CorpWatch works to promote environmental, social and human rights at the local, national and global levels by holding multinational corporations accountable for their actions. We employ investigative research and journalism to provide critical information on corporate malfeasance and profiteering around the world to foster a more informed public and an effective democracy.
We believe the actions, decisions, and policies undertaken and pursued by private corporations have very real impact on public life – from individuals to communities around the world. Yet few mechanisms currently exist to hold them accountable for those actions. As a result, it falls to the public sphere to protect the public interest.
In many cases, corporate power and influence eclipses even the democratic
political process itself as they exert disproportional influence on public policy they deem detrimental to their narrow self-interests. In less developed nations, they usurp authority altogether, often purchasing government complicity for unfair practices at the expense of economic, environmental, human, labor and social rights.
Yet despite the very public impact of their actions and decisions, corporations remain bound to be accountable solely to their own private financial considerations and the interests of their shareholders. They have little incentive, nor requirement, for public transparency regarding their decisions and practices, let alone concrete accountability for their ultimate impact.
is part of a diverse global movement for human rights, social justice,
environmental sustainability, peace, corporate transparency and
We believe that all people deserve:
- The power to make decisions over their own resources, environment and working conditions
- Fair and sustainable trade that rewards workers with just wages and a clean, sustainable environment
services such as education, healthcare, water or electricity available
at an affordable price. No institution should be allowed to profit
unjustly out of the provision of such basic services
- Access to local jobs and services
- Violations of human rights such as torture, discrimination, political repression, or union-busting
unsustainable business practices, including those that have an adverse
impact on local communities or the global environment
- Secret and unaccountable corporate and government activities
rules that adversely impact communities, national governments and
entire regions of the world, such as free trade, privatization and
outsourcing of local jobs.
Finally, we support the
right of people, communities and countries to be compensated for human
rights violations, and environmental and economic impacts caused by
damaging corporate, government or multi-lateral institutional behavior.
Corporations must abide by international law and be directly
accountable to those directly impacted, whether a local community or a
national government to redress damage.Historical Highlights
Since 1996, San Francisco Bay Area-based CorpWatch has been educating
and mobilizing people through the CorpWatch.org website, articles and
publications, and numerous action-campaigns. The organization is a project of the Tides Center
and it is guided by a six-member Executive Committee of our Advisory
Board. In addition, we are an affiliate member of Friends of the Earth International.
Throughout its history CorpWatch has provided journalists,
activists, policy makers, students and teachers with key informational
resources on issues related to corporate accountability.
The foundation from which the organization emerged and evolved was the book, The Corporate Planet: Ecology and Politics in the Age of Globalization, written by CorpWatch's founder Joshua Karliner, and published by Sierra Club Books in 1997.
The scope of our investigations reflects our commitment to pursuing issues of corporate accountability and malfeasance in any manifestation, anywhere in the world -- whether the rights in question are economic, environmental, human, political or social rights.
Human Rights, Economics, the Environment and Transparency
• Corpwatch launched its first major shot across the corporate bow in 1997 when it blew the whistle on working conditions in Nike’s operations in Vietnam, ultimately helping secure greater oversight of their factories and changes in their corporate practices.
• In 1998, CorpWatch had the foresight to start investigating the Enron Corporation, three years before the company’s collapse.
• Our Climate Justice Initiative, organized from 1999-2002 around the CorpWatch report, Greenhouse Gangsters vs. Climate Justice, successfully redefined climate change as an environmental justice and human rights issue, and helped mobilize communities already adversely impacted by the fossil fuel industry.
• In 1999, we broke the story of the United Nations growing
entanglement with corporations, known as the UN Global Compact.
published "Earth Summit.biz: The Corporate Takeover of Sustainable
Development," in collaboration with Food First Books in 2002.
• We also co-produced five live one-hour radio broadcasts from the WTO Ministerial meeting and protests in Seattle in 1999 and from Cancun in 2003.
• In May 2007 we exposed the human and environmental cost of gold mining with Barrick's Dirty Secrets: Communities Respond to Gold Mining's Impacts Worldwide.
• In September 2007 we launched the Wiki project Crocodyl.org, in partnership with the Center for Corporate Policy and the Corporate Research Project.
• In May 2009 we contributed to The True Cost of Chevron: An Alternative Annual Report, led by author Antonia Juhasz. This jointly-produced report documents negative impacts of Chevron's operations around the globe, in stark contrast to the message sent by the company's ubiquitous "Human Energy" advertising campaign.
War & Disaster Profiteering: Afghanistan, Iraq and Katrina
• In the spring of 2002 and 2003, CorpWatch began to track companies like Bechtel, Dyncorp and Halliburton, profiting out of the so-called "war on terrorism." This has led to our fielding several investigative journalistic teams to investigate the out-sourced reconstruction in Iraq. Some of the footage CorpWatch obtained in Iraq was used in Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9-11.
• In May 2004, CorpWatch began a series of alternative annual reports on Halliburton, along with Global Exchange, HallibutonWatch and others. The first was dubbed Houston, We Have a Problem. The 2005 alternative annual report was titled, Houston, We Still Have A Problem, and one in 2006, Hurricane Halliburton: Conflict, Climate Change and Catastrophe. We published the fourth and final in the series in spring 2007, as Halliburton off-shored its headquarters Dubai in the United Arab Emerites, called Goodbye, Houston.
• In November 2004, CorpWatch released Iraq, Inc., A Profitable Occupation - the first book-length on-the-ground account of Year One of the occupation of Iraq. Authored by executive director Pratap Chatterjee, and published by Seven Stories Press, Matt Swibel of Forbes Magazine said, "Iraq, Inc. will introduce you to the entrepreneurs who really understand war profiteering and the price the rest of us will have to pay."
• In May 2006, CorpWatch published Afghanistan, Inc., authored by Afghan-American writer Fariba Nawa, which details the bungled reconstruction effort in Afghanistan.
• Turning our sights closer to home, next was Big, Easy Money: Disaster Profiteering on the American Gulf Coast by Rita J. King, published in August 2006, on the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's devastation.
• We followed this up with Casualties of Katrina: Gulf Coast Reconstruction Two Years after the Hurricane in September 2007, written by Eliza Strickland and Azibuike Akaba.
• In late April, 2008, we released a ground-breaking report on the
impact of U.S. intelligence and translation contracting, Outsourcing
Intelligence in Iraq: A CorpWatch Report on L-3/Titan. Authored by Pratap Chatterjee, we released the report on the
eve of L-3's shareholder meeting. We re-released this report in December 2008, with recommendations from Amnesty International.
Crocodyl -- Collaborative Research On Corporations
In September 2007, we launched the Wiki project Crocodyl.org, in partnership with the Center for Corporate Policy and the Corporate Research Project.
Crocodyl.org puts the power of public oversight into the hands of
the people themselves. As a public platform for change and
accountability, it serves as a global resource to aggregate research
among NGOs, journalists, activists, unions, whistleblowers and academics
from from around the world in order to develop publicly available
profiles of the world's most powerful corporations, particularly
result is an evolving compendium of critical research, posted to the
public domain as an aid to activist campaigns and anyone working to
hold corporations increasingly accountable.
is to create social change through democratizing often hard to find and
disparate information on corporations and the impacts of their