Many of the world’s worst environmental and human rights abuses are driven by the exploitation of natural resources and corruption in the global political and economic system. Global Witness is campaigning to end this. We carry out hard-hitting investigations, expose these abuses, and campaign for change. We are independent, not-for-profit, and work with partners around the world in our fight for justice.
We want a better world -- where corruption is challenged and accountability prevails, all can thrive within the planet’s boundaries, and governments act in the public interest.
For two decades we’ve been campaigning for full transparency in the mining, logging, oil and gas sectors, so that citizens who own those resources can benefit fairly from them, now and in future.
See our Annual Report 2017 (pdf, 4MB) to find out more about our work over the last year.
We believe that the only way to protect peoples’ rights to land, livelihoods and a fair share of their national wealth is to demand total transparency in the resources sector, sustainable and equitable resources management, and stopping the international financial system from propping up resource-related corruption.
Global Witness is the backbone of hope for journalism. I mean fearless journalism, tough and independent journalism, journalism that in a world of increasing oligarchy will tell us the truth about money and power and the corruption that is robbing everyday people of their rights and resources. Just as importantly, Global Witness goes beyond traditional journalism by advocating and helping to deliver systems changing solutions and accountability for injustice around the world. So, yes, the backbone of hope for journalism – and our spine for the future. - Journalist and political commentator, Bill Moyers
How we work
When Global Witness was created in 1993 the founders sourced their first computer from a bin outside their office and relied on friends and family to pay for their international calls. They were pioneers in seeing the link between natural resources, conflict and corruption and began to systematically document and expose how this sustains poverty, fuels instability and destroys the environment. Their early work closed the Cambodia/Thai border to the Khmer Rouge logging trade cutting off the funding to help end the war.
As Global Witness grew they knew that to continue their work they would need courage and tenacity as well as an incredible team. They wanted to create and lead an organisation which empowered and enabled others to achieve impact and change.
We continue to be pioneers and innovators in tackling natural resource misuse, conflict and corruption: issues that are assumed to be inevitable or intractable or which are simply not recognised at all. Our approach is always grounded in rigorous research, as well as intuition. We plot unconventional paths to achieve accountability and change.
Like our early work in Cambodia, the problems we address today are complex and entrenched. Our work requires long-term commitment and expert handling of legal and security risks. At the same time we have to remain agile and adaptive to external threats and opportunities.
We do our best to create an environment where people can work autonomously, be themselves and where they are energised to drive their work forward. But we know that at times they may work in difficult and unstable environments. Because of this we put our employees’ wellbeing at the heart of everything we do and their safety is our priority.
Our ethos is reinforced by a simple leadership philosophy; we are transparent and open with our people and each other. We trust, develop and enable everyone to do amazing work and reach their true potential. We know that the best results are achieved when we work together and we place a strong emphasis on collaboration and team spirit across the organisation and with our external partners.
Our work has led to worldwide changes that have improved the lives of many and helped to protect the planet that we depend on for our survival. We continue to evolve in response to challenges we uncover or confront – this is Global Witness.
The Global Witness team draws on a wide range of skills, from undercover investigations and painstaking financial research, to information gathering on the ground and close cooperation with partners and activists all over the world.
We use many techniques to gather evidence including interviews, secret filming, photography, document research and often just dogged physical presence – our investigators sometime spend days counting logging trucks across borders and through checkpoints to monitor illegal timber trades.
Our reports are known for their meticulous attention to detail and are months and sometimes years in the making. We are proud that when our reports are released, they regularly make headline news. Our undercover films are also increasingly making waves. Sarawak: Inside Malaysia's Shadow State, which exposed 30 years of corruption and illegality, had more than 1.3 million views online.
But exposure is not enough: our goal has always been to achieve system-wide change that will starve corrupt dictators and warlords of looted funds, stop brutal resource-driven conflicts, and protect the planet’s natural assets for the benefit of all.
To achieve our goals, we use our hard-hitting reports and investigations to drive strategic advocacy by targeting decision-makers, campaigning to change laws, demanding accountability from political leaders and justice for perpetrators of crime and human rights violations.
We often work in formal and informal partnerships and coalitions with individual allies and like-minded organisations in Europe, the United States, Africa and Asia.
Together we will continue to expose the shadow systems that enable corruption and conflict, and lift the resource curse that condemns millions of people to lives of poverty and violence.