Press Release / Dec. 11, 2001

Global Witness congratulates D. Zacarias Kamuenho and seeks further moves to empower civil society in Angola

Global Witness congratulates the European Parliament for its decision to award the Sakharov Prize to Archbishop D. Zacarias Kamuenho of Lubango, head of the Angolan Catholic Church. The award recognises his work in defence of human rights and the promotion of peace in Angola, and it represents the first formal European parliamentary recognition of the effort being undertaken by an increasingly pro-active Angolan civil society in its struggle to achieve peace following the devastation of forty years of conflict.

Global Witness is a UK-based NGO that has campaigned in Angola since 1998 to stop “conflict diamonds” funding Unita’s war effort and to promote accountability and transparency in the oil sector. Global Witness sees Archbishop Kamuenho’s award as a European recognition of the need to empower Angolan civil society, and a sign that initiatives to end the conflict must include civil society in an inclusive partnership for peace.

If Europe is genuinely committed to peace and long-term sustainable development in Angola, the EU needs to take into account the way its companies operate in Angola. Angola’s economy is largely dominated by foreign companies, mainly in the oil sector, which generate approximately 87% of state income. Despite oil revenues of US$3-5 billion each year, Angola is now ranked 146th out of 162 countries assessed by the UN’s 2001 Human Development Index; one in three children die in Angola before they reach the age of five; two thirds of the Angolan people live on less than one dollar a day; and the number of internally displaced people has reached 2.8 million.

Oil companies and banks operate with no transparency in Angola and fail to disclose any public information about their payments or loans made to the Angolan Government. This typifies their double standards over disclosure - equivalent information is routinely available by the same companies in the northern hemisphere. By operating in a non-transparent manner companies create the ideal environment for misappropriation of revenues and large-scale corruption, and acts to prevent civil society from being able to call their Government to account over mismanagement of oil revenues. This is problematic as revenues that should be promoting peace and sustainable development are, instead, being used to perpetuate and intensify the conflict.

Global Witness calls for a European regulatory framework in which the major financial regulators require natural resource companies to publish what they pay to national governments for every country of operation. Such transparency will help to end the extended conflicts fuelled by natural resources in countries such as Angola.