Press Release / Oct. 22, 2003

Transparency of Iraqi oil money vital for reconstruction

The Iraqi donors’ conference meets tomorrow in Madrid to secure new resources for the country’s reconstruction. However, serious questions remain about the governance and oversight of Iraq’s main source of income – its oil.

Global Witness is calling for the US and UK to require their Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in the country to improve the transparency and accountability of the management of Iraq's oil money. No transparent reporting standards for oil revenues have been implemented in Iraq. This is despite the two governments having agreed, along with the other G8 member states in Evian this year, to an action plan to enhance the transparency of revenues from natural resource extraction and being committed parties to a major policy initiative on the subject, called the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

In addition, although UN Security Council Resolution 1483 established the Development Fund for Iraq in May 2003 as the sole repository for the country’s oil revenues, the fund is not yet being managed in a ‘transparent manner’ as specified in the Article 14 of the resolution. So far, the Fund’s International Advisory and Monitoring Board, mandated by the May resolution, was only agreed yesterday and income to and expenditure from the fund remain opaque.

The US and UK must now implement the transparency standards in Iraq that they have endorsed internationally. This would require public disclosure and double-entry book-keeping to reconcile company payments for oil with government accounts, so that the ordinary citizens of Iraq can see where money from ‘their’ oil is going. President Bush must also endorse legislation approved by Congress requiring the transparent disclosure of the country’s oil money by the CPA as a condition for passing his new US$87 billion Iraq-related funding request. If the financing of the occupation remains murky, it is unlikely to encourage other would-be donors to open their wallets.

Global Witness director Simon Taylor said, “transparency of Iraq’s oil money is a necessary first step towards accountable management of the country’s reconstruction. Given the massive international concern about the conduct of the war, it’s a no-brainer for the allies to be seen to be mismanaging or even avoiding scrutiny of money that rightly belongs to the Iraqi people. The US and the UK must now espouse the same principles of transparent management in Iraq that they have already endorsed internationally.’

Please contact Simon Taylor or Gavin Hayman on +44 (0)207 272 6731 or +44 (0)7957 142 121 for more information.

Editor’s notes:

(1) Global Witness focuses on the links between the exploitation of natural resources and the funding of conflict and corruption. Global Witness is one of the founder members of the Publish What You Pay (PWYP) campaign of over 170 NGOs that are calling for governments, especially those in the G8, to take leadership and promote transparency over resource revenues worldwide (see The coalition is calling for Northern stock market regulators to require resource extraction companies to report their net payments to all governments as a condition for being listed on stock markets. The PWYP coalition is participating in the UK Government’s ‘Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative’, which is exploring options to promote transparency and wise use of oil, mining and gas revenues worldwide (see

(2) Information on the G8 Action Programme on Fighting Corruption and Improving Transparency is available at

(3) A detailed new report ‘Keeping Secrets: America and Iraq’s Public Finances’ is available at from one of Global Witness’ Publish What You Pay partners.