Mission statement

“Global Witness investigates and campaigns to prevent natural resource related conflict and corruption, and associated environmental and human rights abuses. From undercover investigations, to high-level lobby meetings, it aims to engage on every level where it might make a difference and bring about change.”

Size and organisational structure

More than 60 staff are divided between offices in London and Washington DC. The company has a board of directors that meets quarterly. Day-to-day management is provided by the three founding directors, the director of campaigns and the director of finance and resources. Global Witness also has an advisory board. Its activities in the US are undertaken through Global Witness Publishing Inc, a company registered in Washington DC.

Sources of funding

Grants from private trusts, foundations, charities and governments.

Leadership and key personnel

Charmian Gooch, co-founder and director

Patrick Alley, co-founder and director

Simon Taylor, co-founder and director

Brief history

Established in 1993 by three friends working from home, Global Witness’s first campaign aimed to stop the trade in illegal timber from Cambodia to Thailand that was funding the Khmer Rouge. Within six months it achieved an astounding victory: the overland border was closed. Global Witness has helped the issue of natural resources rise to its current prominent position on the international agenda.

Campaign sectors

Corruption, conflict, environmental governance and maximising accountability and transparency.

Campaigning highlights

1996: Its investigations resulted in the IMF withdrawing from Cambodia over corruption in the logging industry.

2003: Its campaign against blood diamonds led to the creation of the Kimberley Process certification scheme and to Global Witness’s joint nomination for the Nobel peace prize. Three years later it contributed to research and campaigning around the 2006 Hollywood blockbuster film Blood Diamond. In 2011, though, Global Witness left the Kimberly Process.

2005: The precedent-setting arrest of timber baron Gus Kouwenhoven in the Netherlands.

This profile is part of Ethical Corporation's special management briefing on activist NGOs

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