Angola’s immense oil and diamond resources have fuelled conflict, environmental destruction, and high-level corruption.
In 1998 our seminal report, A Rough Trade, thrust the issue of blood diamonds funding the country’s civil war into the spotlight. Later, our exposure of oil corruption in prolonging the conflict led to the creation of the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative.
Global Witness' very first investigations exposed how the Khmer Rouge movement and the Phnom Penh government were gutting Cambodia’s forests to fund their military campaigns.
Since then, we have revealed how Cambodia’s elite have exploited first forests, then oil, gas, mineral reserves, and land for agribusiness, to shore up their own positions of power. Most recently, we exposed how the ruling Hun Sen family has been pulling the strings of the economy and amassing great personal wealth.
- Central African Republic
- D.R. Congo
Equatorial Guinea is one of the biggest producers of oil in Africa, but this wealth has enriched a small repressive elite centred around President Teodoro Obiang, while most citizens live in poverty.
Our investigations have highlighted the complicity of Western financial institutions and the use of anonymously-owned companies in propping up the regime and enabling the president’s son, Teodorin Obiang, to sustain a playboy lifestyle in Europe and the US.
- European Union
Guyana’s historically low deforestation rates made it a special case in efforts to preserve forests in the fight against climate breakdown, notably via the REDD initiative.
More recently, as we revealed in our report Signed Away, the discovery of oil of the country’s coast led to it signing an exploitative deal with Exxon.
The high-profile murder of environmental activist Berta Cáceres in 2016 was tragically not an isolated incident, in a country that has consistently been one of the deadliest countries in the world for land and environmental defenders. We have also documented threats to Honduras’s forest communities, with criminal activity stripping the country of its natural wealth and causing violent social unrest.
The ‘Kazakhgate’ scandal, in which Kazakhstan’s autocratic former president Nursultan Nazarbayev allegedly received bribes from foreign oil companies, featured in our landmark 2004 report Time for Transparency.Later, we revealed allegations of links between copper mining giant Kazakhmys and President Nazarbayev that were not disclosed to investors, highlighting the need for better checks on companies listed on the London stock exchange.
Rising commercial interest from foreign agribusiness companies keen to cash in on arable land and cheap labour has seen many communities in Laos forced off their ancestral lands, with families losing their livelihoods. Rubber is one of the key drivers of these land grabs, as revealed in our 2013 report and video 'Rubber Barons'.
The systemic mismanagement of Libya’s oil sector has effectively denied billions of dollars to its people, while Colonel Gaddafi’s stranglehold on the country’s oil sector helped him to maintain his grip on power for 42 years.
To avoid a return to the oil-fuelled corruption and conflict of the past, its government must publicly commit to transparency and international oil companies must also play their part.
In 2013, as the Malaysian state of Sarawak was losing its rainforests faster than anywhere else on Earth, we reported how members of the ruling family had cashed in on the state’s timber wealth for over 30 years. More recently, we shone a light on the major banks, lawyers and auditors at the heart of Malaysia’s biggest corruption scandal, 1MDB.
A decades-long oil boom has transformed Nigeria’s economy into the largest in Africa, yet hundreds of billions of dollars in oil revenues are estimated to have gone missing from Nigerian state coffers. Since 2011, we have investigated and exposed oil giants Shell and Eni’s role in the scandalous deal for Nigeria’s OPL 245 oil block.
- Papua New Guinea
The trade in illegal timber in Peru has furthered the exploitation of indigenous peoples’ land and resources, while contributing to the deforestation of the Amazon basin. Our investigations have uncovered timber exporters’ complicity in illegal logging, and contributed to a dramatic u-turn by the Peruvian government to restore the independence of the country’s forest inspection agency.
South Sudan is the world’s newest country and one of Africa’s biggest oil producers. Yet, as our investigations have shown, despite the huge government income generated from oil, most of the revenue is being spent on the military, the war effort and serving debts owed to oil companies.
Our investigations have exposed the financial networks behind one of Sudan's most powerful militia and links between major refiners and Sudanese gold linked to conflict.
- The Philippines
In 2006 we exposed how former president Saparmurat Niyazov controlled most of Turkmenistan’s earnings from gas in off-budget funds. At least US$3 billion of Turkmenistan’s money was held in Frankfurt by Deutsche Bank, in a famous example of authoritarian regimes consolidating their power with the help of western financial institutions.
In 2006, oil was discovered in one of the most biodiverse regions in Uganda. There was a risk that this wealth could entrench corruption, fuel unrest and wreck Uganda’s unique natural habitats without steps to protect local people and the environment and ensure deals were done in the open.
- United Kingdom
- United States
With the discovery of diamonds in the Marange region, Zimbabwe became one of the world’s leading diamond producers. But instead of driving the country’s development, our investigations have shown links between oppressive state security forces and a decade of disappearing diamond wealth.
where we work
All Countries and Regions
We have offices in the United Kingdom, United States, Brussels and China and work with partners across the world - from land and environmental defenders in Latin America to forest communities in Papua New Guinea - on our investigations and advocacy for change.