Africa’s longest running civil war may be coming to an end. A chance for a lasting peace in Angola now exists with the signing of a ceasefire agreement between the Angolan Government and UNITA rebels on 4th April. Angola’s oil and diamond wealth must now be transparently and accountably managed to reconstruct the country and to remove the vested economic interests in maintaining the conflict to loot Angola’s natural resources.
“The civil war has been ruthlessly exploited by the warring factions to embezzle Angola’s resource wealth and to fund covert military budgets whilst the ordinary Angolan citizens have been left dispossessed,” said Global Witness campaigner Alex Yearsley. “Lasting peace will be founded on dismantling the web of secrecy around Angola’s resource revenues through transparent and accountable management”.
Last week (Monday 25 March), Global Witness unveiled an in-depth report into Angolan oil sleaze - ‘All the Presidents’ Men’ - which showed how the economic and political disorder from the war has been exploited to embezzle Angola’s oil revenues through unaccountable bank loans, kickbacks on arms trafficking and a highly over-priced military procurement process.
The report showed that between US$1-3 billion, between one-third to one-half of all state income - went missing from the Angolan State in 2001. Meanwhile, one Angolan child dies every three minutes from preventable diseases and the UN is left to find US$200 million to feed Angola’s one million internally displaced people dependent on food aid.
International oil companies, such as ChevronTexaco, TotalFinaElf and ExxonMobil, are complicit in this process because, although they routinely provide information about their tax payments in developed countries, they refuse to publish what they pay to the Angolan Government. This means that ordinary Angolan citizens have no information to call their Government to account over the misuse of state resources. As a result, Global Witness is calling on stock market regulators to require resource companies to report their payments to all national governments as a condition for being listed.
Diamond trafficking remains a lucrative source of revenue for UNITA fighters. UN sanctions must be maintained on all non-certified Angolan diamonds until UNITA fully abandons its war effort and until the Government demonstrates that it is in full control of a transparent and accountable diamond trade. The diamond industry and the international community must now implement the Kimberley Process diamond certification system, which is designed to end the trade in conflict diamonds.
Please contact Alex Yearsley or Gavin Hayman
on +44 (0)207 272 6731 or ++44 (0)7968 799 815.
(1) Global Witness investigates how natural resources fund conflict and corruption and was nominated last month for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for its work on conflict diamonds. It is non-partisan in all its countries of operation. In Angola, Global Witness has highlighted how the traffic of conflict diamonds funds UNITA, as well as questioning management of oil revenues by the Government.
(2) In December 1998, Global Witness released the report “A Rough Trade” which highlighted the dangerous failure of the international community and the UN to implement controls on unofficial Angolan diamonds and role of the international diamond industry in buying hundreds of millions of dollars worth of diamonds from UNITA territory. Since then, Global Witness has pushed governments and the diamond trade to adopt binding controls on conflict diamonds through the Kimberley Process. The diamond industry and 37 governments involved in the production, trading, polishing and importation of diamonds subsequently reached agreement on a certification system; however, the Kimberley Process is not yet a credible and verifiable chain-of-custody system as it currently lacks an independent monitoring body to conduct regular monitoring missions.
(3) Global Witness’ new report on oil and corruption in Angola, ‘All the Presidents’ Men. The Devastating Story of Oil and Banking in Angola’s Privatised War ’ is available in English, Portuguese and French from the Global Witness website – www.globalwitness.org.
(4) Despite earning around US$3-5 billon from oil last year (an estimated 87% of state revenue), social and economic development in Angola has continued to deteriorate. The latest figures from the UN show that three-quarters of the population are forced to survive in absolute poverty on less than one dollar a day; over 30% of all children die before reaching the age of five and one child now dies of preventable diseases and malnutrition every three minutes (480 every day); overall life expectancy is a mere 45 years; and some 4 million civilians have had to flee their homes since the war resumed in January 1998.
(5) Major oil companies operating in Angola are: Chevron-Texaco, TotalFinaElf and ExxonMobil, BP-Amoco, Norsk Hydro, Statoil, Shell, Agip, Petrobras and Petrogal. BP-Amoco created a precedent on transparency in February 2001 by stating that it will publish what its pays in Angola, although no information has been provided to date regarding tax payments to the Angolan Government from the company’s shareholding in Angola’s Block 17, which commenced commercial operations in December 2001.
Press Release / April 4, 2002