Global Witness exposes the corrupt exploitation of natural resources and international trade systems, to drive campaigns that end impunity, resource-linked conflict, and human rights and environmental abuses.
Global Witness was the first organisation that sought to break the links between the exploitation of natural resources, and conflict and corruption; and the results of our investigations and our powerful lobbying skills have been not only a catalyst, but a main driver behind most of the major international mechanisms and initiatives that have been established to address these issues; including the Kimberley Process and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). Global Witness is largely responsible for natural resources occupying the prominent role in the international agenda that they currently do.
And away from the policy arena, Global Witness'' hard-hitting investigations have had direct and major impacts, such as the IMF withdrawal from Cambodia in 1996 over corruption in the logging industry, the imposition of timber sanctions on Charles Taylor''s Liberia in 2003, and the precedent-setting arrest of timber baron Gus Kouwenhoven, in the Netherlands in 2005.
Despite the great strides made in the first decade of Global Witness'' existence, the struggle to ensure that natural resource exploitation is equitable and sustainable is still in its early stages. Resource-fuelled wars such as those that shattered the DRC, Liberia, Angola and Cambodia could happen again tomorrow, and add to a death toll that has topped over six million since the late 1990''s, because the international community has not addressed the trade in conflict resources.
The competition between the old and emerging powers to secure the world''s remaining oil reserves is escalating, perhaps dangerously so. The scramble by extractive industries to secure exploitation rights over the world''s mineral wealth, whilst at the same time resisting any kind of regulation that would enforce good practice, threatens some of the planet''s poorest populations, whilst the world''s dwindling forests, home to millions of people and reservoirs of biodiversity, continue to face an onslaught by some of the most corrupt regimes and companies, bent on satisfying an insatiable demand for timber regardless of cost.
Natural resources could be the key to ending Africa''s poverty, and making it, and other areas of the developing world, the economic powerhouses they should be. But Global Witness believes that neither governments nor industry have shown the leadership or the vision to create the sea change in the international architecture that is necessary to make natural resources a benefit and not a curse. Global Witness also believes that this sea change is possible, and it is for this reason that we are continuing to deploy the accumulated thinking, experience and skill that we have developed over the past decade, to help bring about this change. There is no alternative