Global Witness (GW)


Country: International


We want a better world – where corruption is challenged and accountability prevails, all can thrive within the planets boundaries, and governments act in the public interest. 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 the facts, and push for change. We are independent, not-for-profit, and work with partners around the world in our fight for justice.

Our work in development finance:

The Global Witness (GW) Defender’s campaign advocates and supports the rights of land and environmental defenders. The central premise of our work is to expose the relationship between governments, corporations, investors and the human rights abuses that emerge through their scramble for natural resources. Primarily, this has taken shape through documentation of killings of land and environmental defenders globally and through country-specific investigations, which includes, but is not limited to the following countries: Peru, Honduras, and the Philippines. By drawing attention to corruption, unethical practices and human rights abuses against land and environment defenders, our research becomes a tool to enable civil society organisations to apply pressure to development banks.

Across the board, development banks lack adequate due diligence to address risks for defenders and human rights risks in general. Most importantly, development institutions have yet to develop effective protocols for ensuring communities are afforded a say in the projects that impact them. Targeting investors plays an informed part of our campaign strategy. After sustained civil society campaigning in Honduras, the Dutch and Finnish development banks – FMO and Finnfund – eventually withdrew their investment in the project in July 2017. The FMO has since reviewed its human rights policies and is developing an “early warning system for risk of oppression or violence towards human and environmental rights defenders and those opposing projects FMO invests in.”


Geographic Focus: Global

Constituency/Partners: Civil society organizations, Land rights, Rural communities, Women

Sector Focus: Agriculture, Corruption, Dams, Mining, Natural resources

Financier Targets: BNDES, FMO/DEG, IFC, World Bank