Press Release / March 10, 2005

Commission for Africa report offers opportunity to address corruption and impunity in Africa

The long-awaited Commission for Africa report released tomorrow identifies poor governance, corruption, opaque business practices, and lack of political accountability as among the major challenges to Africa’s future prosperity.

The report calls for the international community to help Africa to:

* trace and seize the assets stolen by corrupt leaders;

* promote measures to make such theft more difficult in the first place;

* promote transparency of revenues from the oil, mining and gas sector, which constitutes the bulk of Africa’s foreign direct investment;

* build the capacity of civil society and the media to call their governments to account.

It also calls on the international community to adopt a more ‘joined-up’ approach to tackling the trade in conflict resources. The exploitation of resources such as diamonds, timber, gold and coltan continues to be linked to regional conflict, and the report recommends addressing this by creating an effective sanctioning mechanism and a permanent UN expert panel to monitor such trade.

Global Witness strongly supports these recommendations.

“This is a refreshingly direct report which makes it clear that illicit resource exploitation, often with the complicity of Western companies and banks, has directly contributed to poverty and regional instability,” said Gavin Hayman, campaigner for Global Witness. “Tracking the revenues from the oil, mining and gas sector into national budgets, creating a common system to tackle conflict resources, and making the looting of state assets by corrupt leaders a crime under international law are not rocket science. But they will make a big difference to anti-corruption and peace-building efforts in Africa.”

The crucial question is whether the political will exists to implement the report’s recommendations.

“The first major test of whether the Commission’s report generates a new political will and unlocks new resources comes next week,” said Sarah Wykes, Africa oil campaigner for Global Witness. “The EITI, an international initiative launched by the UK government to prevent the misappropriation of oil, mining and gas revenues, will meet in London. Will the international community come up with funds needed to support African governments trying to do the right thing, and to assist civil society to monitor their efforts?”

For more information, please call Gavin Hayman or Sarah Wykes on +44 (0)207 561 6361/2, +44 (0)7843 058 756 or +44 (0)7971 064 433.

Editors’ notes:

1. Global Witness investigates the links between the exploitation of natural resources and the funding of conflict and corruption. It is non-partisan in all its countries of operation. Global Witness was co-nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for its leading work on ‘conflict diamonds’. Global Witness is one of the founder members of the Publish What You Pay campaign, which was launched in June 2002 and now has more than 250 members (see The coalition calls for stock market and international accounting rules to require oil, gas and mining companies to disclose their net payments to governments for resource access on a country-by-country basis. The coalition believes that revenue transparency is an essential condition for alleviating poverty, promoting just and equitable development, improving corporate social responsibility, and reducing corruption in many resource-rich developing countries.

2. On March 17 2005, over 350 delegates from around the world will meet in London to discuss how to implement the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a UK-led voluntary initiative to improve the transparency of oil, mining and gas revenues paid to government. More information can be found at