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Global Witness

Global Witness

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Global Witness is an international NGO established in 1993 that works to break the links between natural resource exploitation, conflict, poverty
Poverty
Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live...

, corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

, and human rights abuses worldwide. The organisation has offices in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 and Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

. Global Witness states that it does not have any political affiliation. In 2003 it was co-nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for its work on conflict diamonds.

Profile


Global Witness states that its goals are to expose the corrupt exploitation of natural resources
Exploitation of natural resources
Main article: OverexploitationSome exploitation of natural resources is an essential condition of the human existence. This refers primarily to food production and necessities...

 and international trade systems, to drive campaigns that end impunity
Impunity
Impunity means "exemption from punishment or loss or escape from fines". In the international law of human rights, it refers to the failure to bring perpetrators of human rights violations to justice and, as such, itself constitutes a denial of the victims' right to justice and redress...

, resource linked conflict, and human rights and environmental abuses. The organisation explores how diamonds and other natural resources can fund conflict or fuel corruption. It carries out investigations into the involvement of specific individuals and business entities in activities such as illegal and unsustainable forest exploitation, and corruption in oil, gas and mining industries.

Global Witness’ methodology combines investigative research, publishing reports and conducting advocacy campaigns. Reports are disseminated to governments, intergovernmental organizations, civil society
Civil society
Civil society is composed of the totality of many voluntary social relationships, civic and social organizations, and institutions that form the basis of a functioning society, as distinct from the force-backed structures of a state , the commercial institutions of the market, and private criminal...

 and the media
News media
The news media are those elements of the mass media that focus on delivering news to the general public or a target public.These include print media , broadcast news , and more recently the Internet .-Etymology:A medium is a carrier of something...

. This is intended to shape global policy and change international thinking about the extraction and trading of natural resources
Natural Resources
Natural Resources is a soul album released by Motown girl group Martha Reeves and the Vandellas in 1970 on the Gordy label. The album is significant for the Vietnam War ballad "I Should Be Proud" and the slow jam, "Love Guess Who"...

 and the impacts their corrupt
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

 and unsustainable exploitation
Exploitation
This article discusses the term exploitation in the meaning of using something in an unjust or cruel manner.- As unjust benefit :In political economy, economics, and sociology, exploitation involves a persistent social relationship in which certain persons are being mistreated or unfairly used for...

 can have upon development
Human development (humanity)
Human development in the scope of humanity, specifically international development, is an international and economic development paradigm that is about much more than the rise or fall of national incomes. People are the real wealth of nations...

, human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 and geopolitical and economic stability
Economic stability
Economic stability refers to an absence of excessive fluctuations in the macroeconomy. An economy with fairly constant output growth and low and stable inflation would be considered economically stable. An economy with frequent large recessions, a pronounced business cycle, very high or variable...

.

Investigations and advocacy
Advocacy
Advocacy is a political process by an individual or a large group which normally aims to influence public-policy and resource allocation decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions; it may be motivated from moral, ethical or faith principles or simply to protect an...

 campaigns conducted by Global Witness have led to arrests and international policy change. They have been both a catalyst for and a driver of a number of international mechanisms and initiatives established to regulate natural resource trading and promote accountability
Accountability
Accountability is a concept in ethics and governance with several meanings. It is often used synonymously with such concepts as responsibility, answerability, blameworthiness, liability, and other terms associated with the expectation of account-giving...

 around revenue
Revenue
In business, revenue is income that a company receives from its normal business activities, usually from the sale of goods and services to customers. In many countries, such as the United Kingdom, revenue is referred to as turnover....

s raised.

Work


Global Witness has worked on diamonds, oil, timber, cocoa, gas, gold and other minerals. It has undertaken investigations and case studies in Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

, Angola
Angola
Angola, officially the Republic of Angola , is a country in south-central Africa bordered by Namibia on the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean with Luanda as its capital city...

, Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

, DR Congo, Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea, officially the Republic of Equatorial Guinea where the capital Malabo is situated.Annobón is the southernmost island of Equatorial Guinea and is situated just south of the equator. Bioko island is the northernmost point of Equatorial Guinea. Between the two islands and to the...

, Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

, Burma, Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in the southern part of the African continent, between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. It is bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the southwest, Zambia and a tip of Namibia to the northwest and Mozambique to the east. Zimbabwe has three...

, Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

 and Ivory Coast. It has also helped to set up international initiatives such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the Kimberley Process, and the Publish What You Pay coalition.

Global Witness argues that natural resources can be, and have been, exploited to fund armies and militias who murder, rape and commit other human rights abuses against civilians. It says that “natural resources can potentially be used to negotiate and maintain peace” and “could be the key to ending Africa's poverty.” Global Witness has been recognised for its instrumental role in documenting the trail of natural resource exploitation in countries across the globe.
Cambodia

Global Witness’s first campaign was in Cambodia in the 1990s where the Khmer Rouge was getting money by smuggling illegal timber across the border into Thailand. Global Witness’s campaigning resulted in the border being closed. The Observer newspaper attributed the shut down of the border to Global Witness’s “detailed and accurate reporting.”

In June 2007 the Cambodian government banned the distribution of the organisation’s new report 'Cambodia's Family Tree s: Illegal logging and the stripping of public assets by Cambodia's elite'. This report details the activities of Cambodia's most powerful illegal logging syndicate and implicates relatives of Prime Minister Hun Sen and other senior government officials. The prime minister's brother, Hun Neng, who is also a provincial governor, was quoted in a Cambodian newspaper as saying if anyone from Global Witness returned to Cambodia, he would “him them on the head until it broke." In 2009, Global Witness released 'Country for Sale', a report on corruption in the allocation of Cambodia’s natural resources licenses. In 2010 the report, 'Shifting Sand' was published which looked at sand dredging for export to Singapore. The report claimed that the trade was "monopolised by two prominent Cambodian Senators with close ties to Prime Minster Hun Sen".
Blood Diamonds

Global Witness was one of the first organisations to bring the world’s attention to the problem of conflict diamonds, or blood diamonds. In 1998 Global Witness released the report ‘A Rough Trade – The Role of Companies and Governments in the Angolan Conflict’ uncovering the role of the international diamond trade in funding the Angolan Civil War
Angolan Civil War
The Angolan Civil War was a major civil conflict in the Southern African state of Angola, beginning in 1975 and continuing, with some interludes, until 2002. The war began immediately after Angola became independent from Portugal in November 1975. Prior to this, a decolonisation conflict had taken...

. This report, and further Global Witness campaigning, helped bring about the creation of the 2003 Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). The KPCS, an international agreement to prevent the trade in conflict diamonds, counts 71 countries as voluntary participants. As an observer of the Kimberley Process
Kimberley Process
Kimberley Process Certification Scheme is the process designed to certify the origin of rough diamonds from sources which are free of conflict funded by diamond production....

, Global Witness meets once a year with participating governments and other observers, such as the diamond industry and other NGOs, to inform the development of the scheme. Global Witness is also active in numerous working groups which monitor participants' implementation of the scheme, assess applications to join, gather and analyze statistics and discuss technical issues.
Oil, gas and mining

Global Witness campaigns for more transparency in the oil, gas and mining sectors. It is a founding member of the Publish What You Pay (PWYP) coalition, which campaigns for “the mandatory disclosure of company payments and government revenues from the oil, gas, and mining sector”[30]. Over 300 civil society groups worldwide are member of PWYP. Other PWYP founders include CAFOD, Oxfam
Oxfam
Oxfam is an international confederation of 15 organizations working in 98 countries worldwide to find lasting solutions to poverty and related injustice around the world. In all Oxfam’s actions, the ultimate goal is to enable people to exercise their rights and manage their own lives...

, Save the Children
Save the Children
Save the Children is an internationally active non-governmental organization that enforces children's rights, provides relief and helps support children in developing countries...

 UK, Transparency International
Transparency International
Transparency International is a non-governmental organization that monitors and publicizes corporate and political corruption in international development. It publishes an annual Corruption Perceptions Index, a comparative listing of corruption worldwide...

 UK and George Soros
George Soros
George Soros is a Hungarian-American business magnate, investor, philosopher, and philanthropist. He is the chairman of Soros Fund Management. Soros supports progressive-liberal causes...

, Chairman of the Open Society Institute
Open Society Institute
The Open Society Institute , renamed in 2011 to Open Society Foundations, is a private operating and grantmaking foundation started by George Soros, aimed to shape public policy to promote democratic governance, human rights, and economic, legal, and social reform...

.

Global Witness also helped set up the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative
Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative
The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative increases transparency over payments by companies to governments and to government-linked entities, as well as transparency over revenues by those host country governments...

, which was announced by then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in September 2002 and formally endorsed by the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

 in December 2003. The EITI is a result of the efforts of the PWYP campaigners. It is now supported by a majority of the world’s oil, mining and gas companies and institutional investors - in total worth US$8.3 trillion.. Global Witness is a member of the EITI International Advisory Group[31] and sits on the EITI Board.
Democratic Republic of Congo

Global Witness is active on a range of issues in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their website section on DRC reads; “Politicians, military and militia groups have plundered the country's natural wealth and used it to enrich themselves at the detriment of the population.” Global Witness has lobbied the UK government and the UN Security Council to stop the trade in minerals fuelling war in Eastern Congo.

Global Witness defines conflict resources as “natural resources whose systematic exploitation and trade in a context of conflict contribute to, benefit from or result in the commission of serious violations of human rights, violations of international humanitarian law or violations amounting to crimes under international law.”
Forests

Global Witness has done a lot of work on forests. They produced reports on how timber helped to fund the civil war in Liberia and also looked at timber smuggling from Burma into China. The work on the Burma-China trade was instrumental in getting the border closed. Recently, Global Witness launched a court case in France against DLH, a company that they allege bought timber from Liberian companies during the civil war between 2001–2003, thereby providing support to Charles Taylor's regime.

Global Witness describes forests as the “last bastion against climate change”, with deforestation accounting for 18% of total global carbon dioxide emissions. On UN efforts to agree a deal on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) Global Witness said: "REDD carries considerable risks for forests and local communities and will only succeed if civil society is engaged as an independent watchdog to ensure that the money is used in accordance with national laws and international guidelines."

Global Witness criticizes the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

 endorsed approach of encouraging industrial export-based logging as a means to economic growth in developing countries, which it argues has been repeatedly shown to fail. Instead, Global Witness advocates management strategies which benefit the communities who are dependent on forests, the home countries and the environment and treat forests as an “international asset”.
Banks

In 2009 Global Witness launched a campaign on the role of banks in facilitating corruption. Its report, Undue Diligence, names some of the major banks who have done business with corrupt regimes. It argues that 'by accepting these customers, banks are assisting those who are using state assets to enrich themselves or brutalise their own people' and that 'this corruption denies the world's poorest people the chance to lift themselves out of poverty and leaves them dependent on aid.'

Global Witness is on the Coordinating Committee of Taskforce on Financial Integrity and Economic Development, and is a member of BankTrack
BankTrack
BankTrack is a global network of non-governmental organizations cooperating on the field of private banks and sustainability. BankTrack uses direct action, lobbying and research to achieve it goals...

, and the UNCAC Coalition of Civil Society Organisations. In May 2009, Global Witness employee, Anthea Lawson, testified before the U.S. House Financial Services Committee on 'Capital Loss, Corruption and the Role of Western Financial Institutions'.. In a letter to The Guardian dated 9 February 2010 Ms Lawson accused UK Banks of “demonstrated complicity” in corruption.
Sudan

Global Witness has campaigned for transparency in Sudan’s oil industry. Global Witness published 'Fuelling Mistrust' in June 2009, a report that detailed discrepancies of up to 26% between the production figures published by the Sudanese Government and those published by the main oil company operating in the region, CNPC. This peace deal between the north and the south was predicated on an agreement to share the revenues from oil.
Zimbabwe diamonds

In June 2010 Global Witness criticized Zimbabwe for large-scale human rights abuses committed in the Marange diamonds fields. It published a report 'Return of the Blood Diamond' which criticised the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme for repeatedly failing to react effectively to the crisis in Zimbabwe.. In July 2010 Tendai Midzi, writing in The Zimbabwe Guardian, accused Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada of being “but a figment of the western governments they represent'.

Honors and awards


Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada were jointly nominated by U.S. House of Representatives and Senate members for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

 for work on links between conflict and diamonds in several African countries.
  • Winner of the Gleitsman Foundation prize for international activism (2005)
  • Winner of the Center for Global Development/Foreign Policy Magazine Commitment to Development Ideas in Action Award (2007)

Income


The majority of Global Witness’ funding comes from grants made by foundations, governments and charities. One of their main funders is the Open Society Institute
Open Society Institute
The Open Society Institute , renamed in 2011 to Open Society Foundations, is a private operating and grantmaking foundation started by George Soros, aimed to shape public policy to promote democratic governance, human rights, and economic, legal, and social reform...

, which also funds Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

. They also get money from the Norwegian and British governments, the Adessium Foundation, and Oxfam Novib.

In an interview in The Guardian newspaper in 2007, Patrick Alley, one of the Founding Directors, rejected the claim that receiving money from governments could bias their campaigns: "Being campaign-led, rather than funding-led, means that our independence is never comprised," he argued. "The Department for Trade and Industry did once ask if we'd like to sign a confidentiality clause. We said we wouldn't take the funding under those conditions. No other government has ever tried to impose any restrictions."

From December 2008 to November 2009 Global Witness's income was £3,831,831. Of this, approximately 61% came in the form of grants from private trusts and foundations, 33% from governments, 3% from multi-lateral and non governmental organisations, and 3% from bank interest and other. Global Witness says it spends 75% of its funds on campaigns, 7% on communication and fundraising, and 18% on support and governance.

External links