Global corporations no longer answer to governments alone, or even to public international organizations like the U.N. Now the NGOs are watching too.
We heard about the reach and influence of one NGO, Global Witness, from people at the State Department. GW, they said, had investigated and reported on natural resource-related corruption in Cambodia. And that GW report led directly to the the United States banning visits by a number of Cambodian officials and businessmen.
Global Witness, according to its website, was founded in 1993 by “three friends working from their front rooms . . . Global Witness now numbers over sixty staff divided between its offices in London and Washington D.C., and has a truly impressive track record of success.”
Here, in its own words, are some accomplishments of GW’s relatively tiny sixty-person staff:
Global Witness is a U.K.-based non-governmental organisation which investigates the role of natural resources in funding conflict and corruption around the world.
In Cambodia, in our first ever campaign, our investigations helped shut down the illegal timber trade financing the Khmer Rouge. In Angola, we documented how the rebel group UNITA underwrote its operations via diamond trading, in defiance of UN sanctions.
We also campaigned against conflict diamonds in West Africa, and helped to establish the Kimberley Process to remove such diamonds from global markets. We were co-nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for this work.
Global Witness successfully campaigned to break the link between the timber trade and conflict financing in Liberia and exposed the role of the international cocoa trade in fuelling conflict in Côte d’Ivoire. Our current work includes promoting equitable sharing of oil revenues as a means of preventing renewed civil war in Sudan and developing solutions to the economic dimensions of the conflict in eastern [Democratic Republic of Congo].
Global Witness was one of the earliest proponents of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international initiative to combat corruption in the oil, gas and mining sectors, and is a member of the EITI board.
GW’s current conflict-minerals campaign calls for more international due diligence by global corporations about their supply chains, in particular the origin of the minerals they purchase. The campaign, focused mainly on West Africa, is intended to prevent the funding of governments and rebel groups that abuse human rights.