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NGOs cross London Rising Tide picket line to attend BP greenwash meeting

da groom | 25.02.2004 22:19 | Ecology | Globalisation | London

Police ringed the Radisson Edwardian Hotel in Stratton Street, London, on the morning of February 24th as inside, BP prepared to meet and greet specifically invited non-governmental organisations (or NGOs).

The subject on the agenda was the highly controversial Baku Ceyhan oil pipeline, with BP's intention being to celebrate its securing of public funding for the project, as well as to hoodwink its guests that all concerns about it had been addressed. The intention of the guests was to listen politely, perhaps to raise a gentle voice of concern on a small detail or two, but most of all to relax in the luxurious surroundings and consume large amounts of the topnotch nibbles supplied by the world's second largest oil company. Conspicuous by their absence from this event were the Baku Ceyhan Campaign (ie. the Kurdish Human Rights Project, FOE, Platform & Cornerhouse), and the World Wildlife Fund, boycotting this meeting in solidarity with the Campagn but still unfortunately collaborating with BP on its equally controversial Tangguh gas project in West Papua.

Meanwhile outside, a small, hardy and creative bunch of London Rising Tiders had assembled at the doorway, studiously ignoring police attempts to corral them into a pathetic crash barrier-surrounded 'free speech area' across the busy road. Some unravelled a banner which had up to now read 'Oil Fuels Climate Chaos', but which had been modified ingeniously to read 'NGOs Fuel Climate Chaos' for the day. Others gave out leaflets covered in images of the true impact of our oil use, with the text crafted into the shape of a pawn, which was what those accepting BP's invitation surely were.

Then along ambled a wedding party made up of a bride, (being the newly-created NGO 'Co-opted International'), a groom (being BP in beautifully -designed spoof BP logo sunglasses and limited edition BP baseball cap), and a minister (possibly Cabinet as well as clergy).

Conference participants, hotel guests, policemen, BP security, hotel security and a friendly doorman were all witnesses to the ceremony, (see specially modified wedding service below). Or ceremonies, since it was carried out three times during the morning. Throughout the proceedings, Co-opted Int'l wore a tasteful green blindfold with which BP led her up and down the pavement and street. 'I'm going into this with my eyes wide open,' she declared proudly, as BP literally ran rings around her.

After one hitching together of the happy couple, BP wandered over to the protest area and hung his head in shame, asking 'why does (almost) everyone hate me?' and other self-pitying claptrap.

We could really have done with a fossil fuel-free brazier on the picket line, especially when it started snowing, but we kept ourselves toasty with the white heat of improvisation, the gentle hum of adrenalin and the warm glow of knowing that the threat of our presence had probably kept many participants away. And it can't have been much fun for those who had walked through our protest and a ring of fluorescent police jackets to reach their oily junket within. Apparently there were less than ten of them there, so let's hope they're feeling isolated and uncomfortable to have supped with the devil with a dirty green spoon.

(You may be interested to hear that BP are running a similar greenwash event on its Tangguh project in the Smeaton Room at 1 Great George Street, Westminster, London, SW1P 3AA on Wednesday 10th March from 09.30. Who knows - maybe we'll see you there...)

Then, partly to draw some parallels between oil, war and climate chaos, the wedding party headed off (some with a half-hearted police escort) to Bechtel in Pilgrim Street, which was being targeted by Voices in the Wilderness as part of a day of action to Stop the Corporate Invasion of Iraq.

London Rising Tide is part of the wider Rising Tide UK network, which seeks to confront creatively the root causes of climate chaos, while seeking local, community-owned solutions to our energy needs. For more information, see or
62 Fieldgate Street, London E1 1ES
BP-Co-opted Int’l Wedding Service, February 24th 2004

Music: Here Comes the Bride

Minister: Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the name of Capitalism, to join together BP and Co-opted International; to signify the union between the Corrupt and the Corruptible: which Capitalism dost adorn.

Let us be reminded that marriage is not to be entered into unadvisedly or 
lightly; but reverently, discreetly and after considerable thought.

If any person knows any just cause why this couple may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else for ever hold his peace.

Audience: [a rant about how they shouldn’t be wed]

Minister: If either of you know why you should not be joined in Holy Matrimony, you should now confess it.

Minister: BP, will you take Co-opted International as thy wedded wife, to corrupt her? Will you exploit her, weaken her, ignore her and use her for green wash PR spin? Will you continue to have flings with other NGOs and abuse the environment and human rights? Will you love her when your relationship causes her early retirement due to loss of public support?  

BP: I will.  

Minister: Co-opted International will you take BP to be to thy wedded husband, to honour and obey his commands? Will you sell him your good name, comfort, honour, and keep him regardless of how he abuses you, undermines environmental laws and causes social upheaval? Will you forgive him for the loss of public support you will receive as a result of your marriage? Will you love him in times of war and peace and in floods, droughts, heat waves, hurricanes and typhoons so long as you both shall live?

NGO: I will.  

Minister: BP, repeat after me: I BP take thee Co-opted International to be my wedded Wife‚

BP: (repeat the above)

Minister: To use and abuse for as long as I feel like it. In sickness and in health as in profit or bankruptcy.

BP: (repeat the above)

Minister: So long as the world isn’t flooded and I can continue making money out of oil, and for as long as it is useful for me we shall be united.

BP: (repeat the above)

Minister: And this is my solemn vow.  

BP: (repeat the above)

Minister: Co-opted International, repeat after me, I Co-opted International take thee BP to be my wedded Husband.‚

BP: (repeat the above)

Minister: To have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, whatever the weather, till death us do part.

BP: (repeat the above)

Minister: I promise to help BP convince the public that it has the interests of the people and the planet at heart even though this is a blatant lie.

BP: (repeat the above)

Minister: And this is my solemn vow. 

BP: (repeat the above)

Minister: Capitalism dost preserve, and keep you and will look upon you with merciful favour; that ye may allow the oil industry to flourish. You will help suppress information on climate change, pipeline spillages, human rights abuses and general environmental destruction and make climate change and social inequity everlasting. Amen

da groom
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Hide the following 7 comments

Theatre of War

25.02.2004 23:03

Theatre of War did a brilliant workshop at some gathering last year and they are so right. Parodying the ppl we are exposing is very powerful, for the actors and others. It transforms the event. Up till that point, the plc were determined to move us into a pen. Pointing out that their grounds for doing so were unfounded and that the plc have twice recently been criticised for acting beyond their powers etc, had an effect. Then the play acting took over.
Every bit counts!


All else falls away when you look at climate change

26.02.2004 00:47

I wonder which were the NGOs who attended and what their reports will be from the meeting?

Well done, it really seems that climate change is set to eclipse (but include) all other social justice campaigns. What's the point of campaigning for x-issue when so much of the planet and ALL of humanity is threatened? I mean, really what is the point?

If we agree that climate change is happening then we need to be demanding to know just what are governemnts are proposing to do to reduce the negative effects. I suspect it's a question they can't answer. I doubt I could answer it either.

rising tide? bloody tidal wave more like!

Let's Give The World A Helping Pawn

26.02.2004 02:47

NGO mafia.

pongo the penguin

da point

26.02.2004 03:59

hey, i dont undrstand the 'what is the point of x-issue posting'... what is the point what is the point.. im sure ppl can answer this in many different ways.

imagine. a soldier shooting grenades at a crowd. killing dozens everytime. next another one is also killing people, but this time one by one, using a knife. uh, what is the point of trying to stop the bastard with the knife? ask the next person who's throat he's going to slash.

stop as many soldiers, stop the war eventually.then get the general, the arms dealer, the president, the ceo.

re : "we need to be demanding to know just what are governemnts are proposing to do to reduce the negative effects"

i think you mean, "we need to find out by ourselves". when did any government you know of did anything to explain you what they are doing? would you have the time to listen anyway? i have an answer for you tho. they blah blah blah blah blah blah. and do FUCK ALL. on the contrary. this governement and other govs are not about fixing anything. they are about making ppl think they are fixing somethings but there are too many problems anyway so you better keep them in power so they can eventually get around fixing them for you. but they wont. they will just make you think they are fixing them. fixing things would be too complicated, blah, blah, would eventually make them loose power. so they screw things instead so they never run out of shit to make you think they can fix! eventually when ppl get fed up with their bullshit they get jobs with the companies that put them in power. and then they REALLY can fuck stuff up.

Ah! and in my opinion we shouldnt be 'reducing the negative effects'. we should be STOPPING the negative effects. full stop. if we are not good enough to do it, then fuck off and find people that can. START NOW. there are 6 billion people out there. (try the ones that don't put themselves forward for the job) try some women. also, pointing out that there are "negative effects" implies that there are "positive effects" of climate change. television class propaganda. benefits like fucking awful glow in the dark dafadales in january, a flourishing wine industry in england and such humbug. climate change is climate change. NOT NICE.
call it something else, something less mild, less contrived and undercontrol. climate chaos?

what is the point of writting comments on a computer instead of taking action out there?

fight everything all the time. as, when and if you can. go to london rising tide meetings, thursdays 730 @ the london action resource center. they are a brilliant bunch.

love and rage

one -sometimes- lRTer


Don't support corrupt NGO's

26.02.2004 08:25

…Is a supporter of the UN's Global (Corporate) Compact. It has set out both its own "ethical policy and Human Rights Guidelines for Companies - based on the UN agreements [Guardian 19/2/97], which it has been promoting for the past three years, engaging in several forums to this end, and discussions with companies including Shell, BP and Rio Tinto.

Until recently Sir Geoffrey Chandler was chair of AI's UK Business Group. He took up this position when the group was formed in 1991, while he was UK trustee of the US Council on Economic Priorities. For twenty two years previously he worked for Royal Dutch/Shell, as a director, and was the initiator of Shell’s Statement of General Business Practice in 1976.

In 1998 Amnesty launched its "Partners for change" programme aimed at bringing cash to Amnesty in return for the agency's endorsing the commercial operations of specific companies. This followed a motion by Student Action Network at AI's 1997 AGM, attempting to ensure the agency did not bank with companies implicated in human rights violations (the "Ethical Procurement Policy").

In 1999, Amnesty formally linked up with CGU (now CGNU), a major British insurance company (a merger of Commercial Union and General Accident, making it the biggest legal and general insurance provider in Britain), AI recommended its membership to take out policies with the company. This was despite the fact that CGU had shares in British Aerospace (BAe), a supplier (through a subsidiary) of assault rifles to the Turkish army and of war planes (notably Hawk fighter aircraft sold to the Indonesian regime, which has been using them to attack its own citiizens). This link was defended by David Bullon, the chair of Amnesty in early 1999, on the grounds that Amnesty would gain influence over CGU and together they would change its policies to make its investment more ethical.

The Student Action Network deplored the fact that AI had not even informed its members of the CGU link, but failed to get the agency to change its policy [information supplied to the author, by Andy Rowell, 1999]

For information on AI’s programme in West Papua – see Human Rights Watch below.


(Not to be confused with the Clean Air Renewable Energy Coalition, launched in 2000 between companies - including BP Canada and Shell - to "accelerate development of Canada’s renewable energy industry" [Gallon Newsletter, January 21 2001]).

Sometimes called a "Federation" [Dateline, Australia, February 2 2001], the various national CARE agencies are said to "have somewhat different philosophies" [Dateline ibid.]. Nonetheless, as we shall see, several of the biggest CARE groups share the view that they can act as quasi-administrations in the areas where they operate, subtly – or not so subtly – bending some rules in the process.

CARE seems to have been the first "development agency" to directly ally itself with a mining company. This was Sierra Rutile Ltd (SRL) in Sierra Leone, initially owned by Nord Resources of the US and later partially taken over by Consolidated Rutile (Australia). The mine was forced to a halt during the bloody civil conflicts which developed after 1994. Previously CARE-US had joined with SRL in setting up two rehabilitation and resettlement programmes with the company. The first, ECDP (Environment and Community Development Project) was criticised by a government/NGO investigatory team in the early 1990’s. Sullay Kamara of OREINT, a member of the team, pointed out that villagers had been forced to move to inferior land and strongly believed that SRL itself should be fully responsible for their livelihood. [Sullay Kamara "Mined Out: The Environmental and Social Implications of Development Finance to Rutile Mining in Sierra Leone" Friends of the Earth England Wales and Northern Ireland, July 1997]. CARE’s second programme with the company was SAVE (Sustainable Agriculture and Village Extension Project) which aimed at establishing various alternative agricultural schemes. According to Kamara "…the project only disseminates a variety of imposed grains/crops on a small scale,,,in five years the project has failed to answer the urgent need for suitable and adaptive crops in the village level ." Concluded Sullay Kamara: "There is very little community participation and the socio-economic projects have failed to generate any tangible benefit for the local people" [Kamara op cit.; see also "S. Kamara" Analysis conducted by the Organisation for Research and Extension of Intermediate Technology (OREINT) Freetown, 1995],

In 1996, Jean Raymond Boulle - the mining entrepreneur and diamond trader who had financially assisted the late Laurent Kabila in his assault upon Mobutu’s corrupt regime in Zaire - bought a substantial US$10 million worth of Nord - through his Luxembourg-based MIL investments [Mining Journal, London, April 19 1996]. Two years later there was speculation that he would merge Nord with his diamond company American Mineral Fields Nord [MJ July 1998]. This would have put Boulle, a funder of mercenaries, in alliance with a supposed sponsor of humanitarian aid - a demonstration if one were needed - that, when one sups with the devil, one should have an extremely long spoon... ["Mercenaries: an African Security Dilemma" (eds.) Abdel-Fatau Musah and J Kayode Fayemi, Pluto Press, London 2000].

But CARE-Canada obviously didn’t learn its own "lesson of the long spoon". During the Kosovo war in the Balkans, three of its workers were arrested for espionage by the Serbian regime. CARE claims it was mounting nothing more than a "low key administrative support operation: aimed at supporting peace-keeping" [CARE reaction to SBS Dateline programme, Australia February 2 2001]. Leaked evidence supports a different view.

In February 2001 the Australian television programme, SBS, broadcast claims that CARE-Canada had forged an arrangement with the Canadian government (through CIDA – the Canadian International Development Association), to implement the programmes of OSCE, the Nato-linked Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Although not officially "spy masters" CARE nonetheless recruited for OSCE, ex-military personnel and policemen, part of whose task was to identify troop movements, tank positions, minefields etc.

Understandably the Serbs resented this role, leading the government’s deputy Information Minister, Modrag Popovic, to declare that "Care Canada not only had a contract with one of the belligerents [NATO] whose planes would soon be bombing Belgrade, it had a direct role in sustaining the Canadian members of a force passing information directly to Serbia’s enemies" [Dateline ibid.].

Dateline’s revelation caused other aid and development agencies to condemn CARE-Canada - like Fiona Terry of Medecins sans Frontieres:

" I think this whole mission creep (sic) that humanitarian aid organisations are going into at the moment is a hugely retrograde step., I think we need to go back to basics…to look at the fundamental principles of impartiality and be very careful [to preserve] independence from governments" [Dateline ibid]

Ironically, Malcolm Fraser, chair of CARE-Australia, made similar criticisms of his Canadiah counterpart (This is the same Fraser who, as conservative ex-Australian prime minister, beleaguered Aboriginal land rights activists during the 1970’s and 80’s). Ironic because, on February 9 2001 the Sydney Morning Herald revealed that in 1992, CARE–Australia had helped the United States plan its calamitous military operations in Somalia, by playing host to four US officers who had parachuted into the besieged town of Baidoa; CARE allegedly gave these military men strategic information on local conditions.

In 1999 members of the Subanen Peoples in southern Philippines demanded that the Dutch government withdraw more than US$ 8 million from a Care-funded programme called AWESOME which, they said, violated the principles of the 1997 Philippines Indigenous Peoples Rights Act. This was because CARE had usurped Indigenous leadership and not acted in accordance with the principles of "free and informed consent" [Petition from Quirino Parangan et al, Ozamis City, July 7 1999].

Two years earlier, CARE-UK had launched World Trading Day to "bring together financial institutions across the globe to pledge over US$1.2 million to invest in the future of the world’s poor" [Financial Times full-page advertisement November 13 1997]. This was an unprecedented "show case" for corporate destroyers to wear their good intentions on a public sleeve. The worthy line-up included: Cargill Investor Services (a unit of the world’s number one food grain exploiter), the Bankers Trust company, Barclays Capital, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Credit Suisse First Boston, Union Bank of Switzerland (the last five being leading funders of mining projects), as well as the Toronto Stock Exchange.

CARE has also joined with the World Bank in its much-criticised Business Partners for Development programme (BPD), one of whose programmes is with Rio Tinto, in its mismanagement of the Kelian gold mine in East Kalimantan


CAA has had numerous contacts (dialogues) with mining companies in Australia. These aimed at producing a set of "best practices", founded on the principle that Indigenous People must have the absolute right to control the use of their traditional lands..." preceded by fully informed consultation [CAA Benchmarks for the Mining Industry: presentation to the Asia Pacific Mining Skiillshare, Baguio, Philippines April 1998].

In 1999 two consultants prepared a paper on "Earning a Social License" which suggested that CAA had abandoned a confrontational approach to the mining industry, opting instead for accommodation and joint working - and even taking out advertisements in the Australian press praising Rio Tinto for reaching an agreement with landowners ejected from its Kelian mine site [MJ June 11 1999]. CAA reacted vociferously to these suggestions, stating that "We have used and will continue to use both approaches (aggressive and constructive engagement) depending on the judgement or ourselves and our partners in the field about which is most likely at a particular time to produce the changes we seek in company behaviour" [Letter to MJ June 25 1999]. Far from praising Rio Tinto, in late 1999 CAA scaled down its involvement with the company in Indonesia, considering Rio Tinto to be "beyond the pale" of rational and honest discourse [personal communication to author late 1999]. CAA has continued to try to influence other companies, especially Aurora Gold, which the agency has condemned for violent human rights abuses against residents of a prospect in Central Kalimantan

Following adverse public reaction to BHP’s announcement in 2000 that it would close the vastly damaging Ok Tedi mine in Papua New Guinea, the company set up a "Forum for Corporate Responsibility" in which CAA, WWF and the Australian Conservation Foundation participated. Commented CAA Executive Director Jeremy Hobbs (if rather quixotically): "I think it is impossible to build enough trust to have a dialogue but there is no formal prescription [proscription?] on discussing what has happened in the meetings" [Mining Monitor, MPI Sydney, March 2001].


This NGO obtained money from Rio Tinto and the Corporation of London in 1998, to conduct master classes (under the leadership of David Bellamy, a TV "conservationist" associated with other corporate self-promotion). These purported to examine how mnc's could "take on some of the responsibilities for development among communities affected [by corporate operations]" [CF, LEC, Corporation of London publicity handout April 1998]


Conservation International (CI) has set up a joint project with Shell called the Energy and Biodiversity Initiative.

In 1997 it started "mapping" West Papua along with the Indonesian Kehati Foundation. Kirk Talbott, CI’s Indonesian representative, pointed to large scale dams, roads, and mining, oil and gas projects, as posing the biggest threat to the region’s bio-diversity, but also blamed families with small farms in the jungle and over-fishing, especially in their use of cyanide [Asia Pulse, October 5 1999]


This major London-based conservation group is affiliated to IUCN (qv) and has no doubt of the value, not just of corporate sponsorship - but "active [corporate] involvement" in its work. One of its major programmes is a Fellowship Initiative in 15 countries in Africa, aimed at training conservation professionals in scientific techniques and ongoing field research. Rio Tinto is a substantial funder of this initiative, as well as sponsor of another Earthwatch pilot project in Indonesia (West Papua).


One of the major US environmental organisations, EDF has long had concerns about the activities of natural resource extraction companies, and waged significant campaigns against the Guinea (Conakry) Mount Nimba iron ore project during the nineties [see Mount Nimba briefing sheet, Minewatch London 1993 ] and, more recently, the proposed World Bank-funded Tchad-Cameroon oil pipeline of Exxon, Shell and Totalfina-Elf [see "The Congo Basin: le bassin du Congo," IUCN Netherlands, Amsterdam 1998]. (The Environmental Impact Assessment for this project was carried out by Dames & Moore).

Unfortunately – and despite its early promise to "sue the [corporate] bastards" (its 1967 founding motto [Financial Times December 30 1998]) – EDF has long been in hock to multinational corporations. Its most notorious fellowship is with McDonald's which it praised (and took onto its own board), when the world's most insidious fast food chain phased out plastic foam packaging in the 1980's.

"EDF is promoting the idea that polluting companies should be coddled and allowed to buy and sell ‘pollution credits’ rather than forced to stop polluting. EDF has for the most part become part of the problem not the solution" commented John Stauber in Mining Monitor [MPI Sydney, December 1999, quoting from "Toxic Sludge is good for you: lies, damned lies and the public relations industry" Common Forge Press, Monroe, Maine, 1999]


…is allied with Miningwatch Canda (q.v.) but has taken a more conciliatory and cooperative stance vis-a-vis mining companies, while producing some perceptive and well -researched documents tearing the industry apart - especially in Canada. It has collaborated with Oxfam-US on an extensive programme of support for mining-affected communities in Peru.


Friends of the Earth International (FOEI) has a longstanding campaign on mining, hosted by FOE Costa Rica which organised a Central America meeting on Oil and Mining in 1999 COCEIBA. Country FOE Members of this loose network include Accion Ecologica (FOE Ecuador), which also hosts the Oilwatch Secretariat, and helped kick Rio TInto out of Ecuadar, FOE Ghana, FOE Indonesia (Walhi) FOE Australia, FOE Czech Republic (Hnuti Duha) - which also succeeded in getting Rio TInto withdraw from a gold project on the Vltava river in 1997, FOE England Wales and Northern Ireland (whose main target has been Rio Tinto but only in Madagascar until recently) FOE Netherlands (MIlieudefensie) - yet another FOE group which took on Rio TInto and Freeport in West Papua, Foe Philippines (LRC), and FOE USA (which has recently taken up the challenge to the World Bank to cease all funding for oil gas and coal mining projects). Once again its chief targets have been those run by Rio Tinto (Lihir and the Madagascar project) or in which Rio TInto is heavily implicated (West Papua). Given the predominance of concerns and campaigning against Rio Tinto, it is not surprising that, at a 1999 meeting, FOEI groups agreed to "target destructive corporations such as Rio Tinto Zinc".

Nonetheless, the network has not effectively arranged any joint initiative against the company - such as a massed presence at its AGM’s, or funding a comprehensive study of the company’s damaging activities.

The 1999 International Mining Campaign Plans were drawn up by a working group consisting of FOE national groups from Australia, Cameroon, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Philippines, and Togo, and which identified active groups as: FOE Bangladesh, Benin, Canada, Chile, Ghana, Macedonia, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Poland and Uruguay, with support from FOE Germany, Grenada, Haiti, Netherlands. This campaign was to include all the FOE's mentioned above and its demands were for:

An end to military, paramilitary and mercenary activity used to repress people and secure mines
An end to IFI's (International Funding Institutions) funding of new mines or mining companies
No government support or subsidies for mining companies
Sustainable alternatives for communities in place of mining...
Respect for the complete territorial rights of campesinos, Indigenous and tribal peoples
Strict regulation of operating mines
Direct action against mine projects
Coordination with overlapping campaigns (forestry, climate change, wetlands, IFI’s)
There are no specific policy guidelines for FOE groups worldwide on engagement with multinational corporations, and they seem to take offers of corporate dialogue/engagement pragmatically (For example FOE England Wales and Northern Ireland boycotted Rio Tinto's 1998 Forum, but decided to participate in the 1999 one, even while quickly signing on to the Cordoba Declaration which implicitly eschews contact with the "enemy").

However, to date no FOE national group (or FOEI itself) appears to have done more than dialogue with companies whose activities concern them (for example accepting substantial funding). Milieudefensie (FOE Netherlands) had a campaign during the late nineties, which concentrated on attacking ABN-AMRO (the country's biggest retail and investment bank) for its investments in Freeport McMoran, and yielded the report "Taking Responsibility: Metal mining, people and the environment" [Amsterdam December 1997]. This was launched at a public meeting in Amsterdam in December 1997, to which mining company and investment banks were invited.

A network of FOE groups concerned about mining still functions, mainly in Latin America, if rather fitfully. While they have steered clear of direct involvement with corporate strategy, the same cannot be said of former key FOE personnel, several of whom have been corporately "head hunted" or closely cooperated with companies. Richard Sandbrook, a founder member of FOE and former director of the IIED was heavily involved in engineering the MMSD; Charles Secrett, the current director of FOE England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is on the MMSD's Assurance group; Tom Burke – yet another former FOE director - was recruited by Rio Tinto to smooth its appalling relationships with environmental and other NGO’ (a task in which he was eminently unsuccessful). Jonathon Porritt, the best-known FOE personality in its history, who is now chair of the British Sustainable Development Commission ,set up by rightwing Labour leader Tony Blair, attended the 1999 Bilderberg Group meeting [Lobster number 40, London, Winter 2000/2001]. This is the elite "think tank" which is believed by some observers to be behind many retrogressive and undemocratic policies within Europe [see George Draffin "The Corporate Consensus" November 2000; downloadable from].


Solidly "blue" (conservative) in its courtship of multinationals, Green Alliance was originally set up by Tom Burke (ex head of Friends of the Earth) before he went on to become a key adviser to Rio Tinto on how to handle the growing opposition from respectable environmental groups. Not surprisingly GA has since then organised the Rio Tinto Social and Environmental Forums (the last in late 1999). Although purportedly a neutral agent in the forum process, GA was happy to accept money (a reported 7,000 pounds sterling) to put the forum together. Its secretary, Peter Madden, refused to read out a letter addressed to members of the 1999 forum by Down to Earth (the British-based Campaign for Ecological Justice in Indonesia), explaining why it chose not to attend. (DTE had participated in the previous year's exercise, thus making it even more valid to broadcast its opposition the second time around).


Not averse to corporate "dialogue" Greenpeace has nonetheless refused to join Kofi Annan’s "Gobal Compact" (q.v.) warning the UN Secretary General he risked undermining the agency’s integrity by cooperating with companies such as Nike, Shell and Rio Tinto [Financial Times "Responsible Business in the Global Economy" November 8 2001].

Although individual Greenpeace staff have "taken the shilling" (notably at Greenpeace Australia) – and in 1998 Greenpeace UK became what the Financial Times called "the unofficial marketing arm for BP Solar" [FT December 30 1998], as a global organisation claiming 2.5 million members, Greenpeace International has been both critical of corporate power and initiated campaigns against natural resource projects: the first being against uranium mining and nuclear transport in the 1980's and early 1990's, but the best publicised being its attack on Shell over the company’s plans to dump its Brent Spar oil rig into the North Sea . Last year (2000) Greenpeace sent a fact finding mission to investigate the impacts of the Aurul gold mine, whose tailings dam burst in Romania earlier that year. The team concluded that the disaster had killed virtually all life in the Tisza river system and caused damage throughout much of the country [Andras Berstoff and Judit Kanthak "The real face of the Kangaroo: Greenpeace International, Amsterdam, March 2000].


Human Rights Watch (HRW) began deploying its programme on corporations and human rights in the 1990's. This has involved several field investigations, including one of Grasberg, the West Papuan mine operated by Freeport-Rio Tinto. Together with Amnesty International (qv) HRW drew up a code of principles for human rights for Freeport/Rio Tinto in 1999. This failed to recognise Indigenous rights to the area exploited by the mining company since the 1970’s, or the increasing opposition on the part of West Papuan independence fighters and students to the companies’ presence in the territory. Although the agreement pledged Freeport not to employ (as it had done – and notoriously) the Indonesian armed forces to protect its interests, it said nothing about the companies’ cooperation with the army (for example, in constructing barracks for its use).

During the year following the agreement, human rights violations in West Papua escalated, and in April 2001, Freeport was indicted by Augustin Iwanggin, chair of the Irian Jaya (West Papuan) Forum on human rights and the environment, for causing long-term conflict in the territory, refusing to employ local people in key positions (and sacking 300 others unjustly), as well as increasing local peoples’ poverty through the cutting-down of their sago palms and pollution of their water supplies. "Freeport has never recognised its own wrongs and improved the management of the company" declared Iwanggin [Kompas Cyber Media website report, April 2 2001].

HRW, Amnesty International, the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights and International Alert (qv) were among the human rights advisers to the US and British governments who promulgated "Human Rights Principles for Oil and Mining Companies" in late 2000. BP, Shell, Rio Tinto, Enron and Freeport quickly signed on, though HRW cautioned that this "only the beginning of the process" [HRW statement, HRW website, New York, December 21 2000 HRW].


This human rights group, based in England, participated in the 1998 conference organised by the Royal Institute of International Affairs, aimed at "forging a consensus" between non governmental organisations, other agencies and multinational companies - specifically those exploiting natural resources - on the recognition of human rights. Its Secretary General, Dr Kumar Rupesinghe left the audience in no doubt that he regarded mnc's as a "potential...instrument of conflict prevention" [Dr Kumar Rupesinghe "Multinational Investment and Human Rights: Forging a consensus", Royal Institute of International Affairs, London April 20 1998]. In 2000 IA published a primer for better relationships between private companies and public agencies, in order to avoid conflict. Its co-publishers were the Council on Economic Priorities (US) and The Prince of Wales Business Forum – both known for their partisan role with industry.

IN 1999 the British foreign minister, Robin Cook set up a unit to promote "ethical foreign policy", asking IA, as well as aid charities and Amnesty International , to work with it [FT October 16 1998]. However, Cook’s bias towards unethical big companies is well attested – in 1999 he declared that it was "easy" for BP and Shell to become "active global citizens" but much less easy for smaller companies which didn’t have their capacities [FT 2-3/1/1999]. This is a view which stuck in the craw of many who had deplored BP’s recent violations of human rights in Colombia and those of Shell in Nigeria. The following year Cook announced that the ethical foreign policy in Britain was no longer being followed. – perhaps the least hypocritical statement Cook made while foreign secretary. (In early 2001, Cook was accused by a veteran BBC journalist of lying three times to the British parliament about the covert role of mercenary group Sandline in arming the Sierra Leone regime [Guardian March 12 2001]).

After the 2001 British General Election, the new foreign secretary, Jack Straw, finally confirmed that the "ethical foreign policy" was dead and buried [FT June 28 2001].

IIED - see MMSD (above)

IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature)

Based in Switzerland, the IUCN is an umbrella for a large number of conservation groups throughout the world. These groups have their own agendas – for example IUCN-Netherlands has funded ground-breaking research into mining, environment and Indigenous Peoples – and they meet annually to decide policy. However, the IUCN bureaucracy doesn’t always consult or follow their lead. For example, the US Environmental Defense Fund, Minewatch and a Guinee-Conakry environmental group campaigned vigorously to halt exploitation of Guinee’s Mount Nimba iron ore deposit in the early nineties. Despite the annual IUCN conference supporting their stand, the IUCN committee itself scandalously agreed to allow the boundaries of this site of special scientific significance to be re-drawn in favour of the mine.

The IUCN along with WWF and UNESCO designate World Heritage (WH) Sites. Until late 2000, their policy was to vigorously oppose mineral extraction at these sites.

However, in September last year, the ICME (q.v.) met with IUCN, seeking to convince it that "Responsible mining can contribute to biodiversity conservation and broader sustainable development objectives…" [Report on the Technical Workshop on World Heritage and Mining" IUCN HQ, Gland, 21-23 September 2000]. Although IUCN had stated that "…the exploration and extraction of mineral resources and associated activities are incompatible with the values for which the World Heritage sites were established…and in principle should not be permitted" [Report, Gland ibid.], the workshop concluded that a "sound scientific assessment of natural and mineral values" (author’s italics) should precede any future designation of World Heritage sites.

In a significant compromise of its previous position on WH sites, IUCN agreed that, once they secured an exploration licence in these areas, companies should be allowed to develop any economic mineral deposit [Bob Burton, Mining Monitor, MPI Sydney, March 2001]. Shortly afterwards, IUCN refused to come out in opposition to Rio Tinto’s threat to exploit the Jabiluka uranium deposit, located in a designated WH site in northern Australia.

The World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge, Britain - whose task is to assist in the designation and monitoring of WH sites - is now funded by UNEP.

MERN (Mining and Energy Research Network)

Established by Dr Alyson Warhurst of the Science Policy Research Institute in Sussex, MERN now operates out of the University of Warwick, as part of the Corporate Citizenship Unit (CCU) and the Centre for Creativity, Strategy and Change (CCSC). Its coordinated research programme is the most concerted and detailed of its kind anywhere [see MERN Research Bulletin, no 15. 1999/2000]. The organisation has worked with a large number of mining companies directly (as part of its programme) and, joined by various partner NGOs is developing so called "key sustainability indicators" along with Placer Dome. MERN is funded by a number of major mining companies, including Rio Tinto.


Set up to abolish the notorious US 1872 Mining Act (which has enabled the surrender of millions of acres of public lands into corporate hands), the MPC broadened its scope during the early 90’s, to take in international mining activities. It is avowedly reformist, seeking change in mining practices, rather than any major moral shifts within (or out of) the industry. It therefore offers plaudits for supposed changes (see statement by Steve D’Esposito in "Mining Environmental Management," July 2000) while continuing to castigate the industry for its failures. It has informal, rather than formal links with mining company representatives, though in 1998 it did organise a forum for critics of Placer Dome with the company (Not all critics chose to attend).


MPI, based in Sydney Australia, has a policy of supporting the rights and struggles of mining-affected communities throughout the Pacific region, having organised inter alia, skill shares in the Philippines and, in early 2001, assisting in the international conference on submarine tailings disposal held in Indonesia. Its invaluable magazine, Mining Monitor, has featured (and continues to cover) the debate on the pro’s and con’s of corporate "engagement", while becoming increasingly critical of alliances between NGO’s and mining companies. (In 1999, the MPI director Geoff Evans accepted an invitation from BHP to visit the company’s Ok Tedi mine in Papua New Guinea, after prolonged discussion on the wisdom of doing so by the MPI board. This prompted dissent from some of the community groups affected by the mine and MPI later regarded acceptance of the corporate funding as inappropriate).


The MPRI was set up in 1998 by the International Development Research Council of Canada, as a "coalition of the willing" to develop a Canadian perspective and strategy "in favour of sustainable development and mining in the Americas". It also offered to act "as a link between communities and external forces" (over mining issues) [MPRI forum 1998]. It is linked with MERN (qv).


This is by far the most famous and broadly-based of the post-World War Two famine relief groups (although it was actually set up in 1942 to break a blockade on food aid to civilians in Greece). Oxfam developed into a strategic, policy-making body on the roots of hunger and want, during the 1970’s and early 1980’s (At this point, thanks to the pressures of junior staff, who were stung by Rio Tlnto’s exploits in Brazil, the charity rejected an annual £50,000 grant from the company for computer programming facilities). However, it was not until the mid-nineties that Oxfam concerned itself with the negative impacts on development of natural resource exploitation. It set up a business affairs unit which has "dialogued" with the British companies Shell, BP and Rio Tinto. Oxfam was criticised in 1998 for allowing itself to be involved in discussions with Rio Tinto (one of which was kept secret at the time), without reference to the communities it is supposed to serve and consult with.

This faux pas triggered the calling of a forum on "engagement" with resource multinationals (primarily the three mentioned), which proved splendidly inconclusive, due to the disparate nature of the NGO’s represented. The one modest strategy agreed by those present was that none of the participants would engage in any way with multinational companies, without at least informing others concerned about their activities. This promise has never been fulfilled. (Indeed Oxfam itself has gone on to break it, conducting talks with BP over its Camena project in Colombia, without full co-ordination with domestic NGOs) Oxfam’s flirtation with corporate lobbyists may be mild compared with that of WWF or CARE (qv), but is in some respects of more concern, since Oxfam is a trusted household name in Europe, south Asia and much of Latin America and appears to pursue its business programme (or lack of it) without proper reference to its broad membership.

In September 1999 Vandana Shiva condemned Oxfam-UK for advocating the seeding and promotion of genetically modified food crops: later the agency revised its views. Oxfam again prompted raised eyebrows when, the following year, it issued a statement supporting the development of an armed rapid reaction force within the European Union.

Both Oxfam America and CAA - Oxfam Australia (qv) - have developed their own policies and processes in collaboration with community groups concerned about mining but, despite a meeting of Oxfam groups in 1999 ostensibly to discuss the implications of such policies, little unity on the issues appears to prevail within Oxfam lnternational (a coalition which was formed in 1994).


SCF operates in more than 70 countries and is one of the five big aid charities in Britain benefiting from public largesse. It was one of the first NGOs to join with Rio Tinto in its re-furbishing of the company’s tarnished image in the late 1990’s. Though not the only well-known NGO to join the exercise (see CARE and Oxfam), it promised more than any other. It promised, for example, to assist the company in a model rehabilitation project (an idea which since seems to have been abandoned). At the time SCF was believed to have a cross-directorship with Rio Tinto.

In late 2000 SCF was criticised for funding a well-known children’s nutrition unit (CNU) in Bangladesh, run by the Akiz family. Through their Ad-din Trust, the Akiz’s have major interests in bidi (unrefined cigarette) manufacture, employing hundreds of young children in its factories. Conditions there were described in 2000 by former SCF employee and child nutrition expert Dr Nicholas Cohen as "appalling", involving the ingestion of toxic fumes. Cohen also described conditions at the CNU itself as "callous and disgraceful" [The Big Issue, London date unknown].

When alerted to the connection between the CNU and the Akiz clan, the British charity said it would not now hand over the unit to the Ad-din Trust, but nonetheless continue to fund the Trust’s work.

(Not to be confused with War Resisters International)

In 1998 WRI hosted a workshop on Placer’s sustainable development report when it was issued in Canada.


This British campaigning organisation for appropriate development has a large active membership which, from 1996 until 1998, was recruited specifically to fight Rio Tinto’s complicity in the Grasberg mining operations in West Papua. WDM supports stringent enforceable rules on multinationals and, although it has dialogued with companies, has never accepted funding from them or joined in any corporate-led initiative. It was among the half dozen NGOs which refused to join the Rio Tinto Environment and Social Forum process started in 1998. It now campaigns against the WTO.

World Social Forum (WSF) / Forum Social Mundial

Established as "an open meeting space" at the same time as the World Economic Forum in Davos, the WSF aims to provide "in-depth reflection, democratic ideas, formulation of proposals and free exchange of experiences…" in opposition to "a world dominated by any form of imperialism".

The organising committee is comprised of Brazilian human rights and social justice NGOs, as well as trade unionists and the MST (Movement for Landless Rural Workers) [information from:]

(not to be confused with WRI)

One of the major US NGOs endeavouring to analyse the impacts of multinational investment on the poor and the global environment, WWI produces invaluable special reports and an oft-quoted annual survey of the world’s environment. In the early nineties John Young of WWI produced what was probably the first attempt anywhere to evaluate the global impacts of the mining industry and more recently the WWI has joined the call for the phasing-out of oil and coal - whose production, it claimed, caused half a million premature deaths each year.

[see Seth Dunn "King Coal’s weakening grip on power" in World Watch magazine Sept/October 1999]

WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature)

This is the world’s largest public-subscription conservation organisation and perhaps the most susceptible to the criticism that it has become bureaucratically obese (its budget is three times that of the WTO [FT November 11 2000]) and as undemocratic as those it criticises. With little doubt the WWF has recently devoted more time and attention than any other environmental organisation to the impacts of mining – while associating itself most firmly with the industry itself in this endeavour.

In 1999 it issued a report on tailings disasters, urging massive site clean-up in Europe [MJ April 23 1999], which was widely quoted in the specialist mining press. The following year it declared that 80% of fish had been killed in the Tisza river system after the Baie Mare tailings disaster hit Romania in early 2000 - a point disputed by the companies involved [Mining Environmental Management March 2000]. At the same time, WWF clearly believes such disasters to be, not only "predictable", but also "preventable" (a comment it made about Bale Mare) and that the technology already exists, either to eliminate or drastically reduce the environmental impacts of mining [MEM ibid]. Although WWF says far less about the socio-economic aspects of the industry, on paper at least it fully endorses the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ILO Convention 169. [see "Principles of Partnership between WWF and indigenous peoples organisations in conserving bio-diversity within indigenous peoples lands and territories and in promoting sustainable use of natural resources", May 1996]

Indeed, Principle 27 of the WWF’s "Principles of Partnership" between the organisation and Indigenous peoples states clearly that:

"WWF will not promote or support, and may actively oppose, interventions which have not received the prior, free and informed consent of affected indigenous communities and/or would adversely impact…the environment of indigenous peoples territories and/or would affect their rights. This includes activities such as…natural resource exploitation" ["Principles" ibid].

These are high-sounding precepts, but WWF’s practice has tended to belie them.

Its confidence in the ability of the industry to right itself has certainly been guided by some important work carried out in the past few years, and the few concessions it believes it has gained from some companies. But, arguably, its "cosying up" to the miners has also been influenced by the readiness of the companies to throw large sums in WWF’s direction. (When challenged earlier this year to state one instance where WWF-UK had taken Rio Tinto to task, since entering a partnership with the world’s biggest mining company, its director couldn’t come up with a single example [private correspondence]).

In the 1980’s WWF angered Indonesian human rights and environmental campaigners when it advertised for support for its West Papua conservation programme, while blaming local people for their swidden forms of agriculture [source TAPOL UK]. In early 2001 it formally contracted a Memorandum of Understanding with Freeport/Rio Tinto, and BP Indonesia, along with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and two Indonesian organisations, to implement an array of programmes for environmental management, human resources development and information systems in the colonised territory [Press statement, Petromindo, March 10 2001]. Local peoples once again were left out of the driver’s seat.

WWF also allegedly accepted money from Rio Tinto for work in Madagacar (location of its biggest single investment), after the WWF UK branch had joined FOE UK in calling for Rio Tinto’s Madagascar mineral sands project at Toalognaro to be abandoned [private communication from FOE-UK to author].

WWF Australia has less problems than most branches in accepting corporate sponsorship – it has done deals with BHP, Placer Dome, Alcoa and Rio Tinto [Mining Monitor, MPI Sydney, March 2001]. In early 2000 the organisation gratefully received Aus$ l million from Rio Tinto in order to save domestic frogs - a move which prompted stinging criticisms from a number of domestic NGO’s and, in particular, the CFMEU mining and engineering Union:

"Rio Tinto is currently the focus of an international campaign regarding its human rights, environmental record and occupational health and safety performance…it is stunning that WWF could choose to be associated with the company. The WWF frogs program has a budget equivalent to about 1-2 days of revenue from one major coal mine in Australia... Those of us who are fighting for our rights and in some cases our very existence against Rio Tinto will now be confronted with the PR machine of Rio Tinto smoothly asserting how wonderful the company is because it has a partnership with WWF. ... the partnership may well produce some benefit for frogs, but will result in a net loss for the environment, for indigenous people and for working people and their communities...."

[John Maitland, letter to Dr David Butcher, CEO WWF, Sydney, January 18 2000]

In mid-2000 WWF participated in the joint ICME-UNEP workshop to determine industry responses to the Baie Mare gold mine tailings containment collapse – declared at the time by a Romanian government spokesperson to be the worst environmental disaster to hit the country. The only NGOs which attended were the Sierra Club, the US Mineral Policy Center (qv) and WWF, while the 40-strong meeting was loaded with nearly twenty mining company representatives. At this event Frank Almond on behalf of WWF disassociated the organisation from other NGO’s which he said (in terms which could have been taken directly from a briefing by Rio Tinto) "..are well regarded but have not come to terms with the need to reconcile environmental protection with economic activity" [see Parting Company, Partizans, Spring 2001]

A year later, as the international campaign to halt STD (submarine tailings disposal) grew almost irresistible, Michael Rae, WWF-Australia’s Program leader for Resource Conservation sat down with BHP and a "select list" of other environmental groups, to determine how to continue "dialogue" over the possible use of STD by the industry [Mining Monitor, MPI Sydney March 2001 op cit.]. This included discussing when STD (or DSTP as they prefer to misnomer it) "…may be considered appropriate for further consideration as an alternative to land based disposal" [Mining Monitor ibid.].

At the same time WWF-US was coming under fire for accepting a million dollars a year from Chevron-Texaco, one of the world’s biggest oil companies, to set up sustainable forestry projects in Papua New Guinea. Channel Four news of Britain discovered that the project actually involves chopping down and logging mangrove trees - an act which is illegal in the country. When challenged on this, WWF-US board member, Dr Jared Diamond (a winner of the Pulitzer Prize) defended the practice, saying:

"If it is illegal, it would be illegal on paper (!) and there are things infinitely worse than chopping down one mangrove tree. If it can be done on a sustainable basis then by all means do it".

Added Diamond: "If conservation organisations are going to criticise big businesses when big businesses make a mess, we incur an obligation also to praise big businesses when they are doing a fantastic job, and that is the case here". This comment was made despite the fact that Chevron has been castigated by Indigenous Papua New Guinea conservation NGOs for its domestic pipeline project [Channel Four New Special Reports, February 22 2001].

The unholy deal with Chevron was revealed in internal WWF documents — as was a backroom deal between Shell and WWF New Zealand, to promote a costly advertising campaign for an educational programme, which linked the two in the public mind — and worse, (ab)used children to do it. The leaked documents reveal that the chair of WWF NZ, Paul Bower, even wanted Shell to become a trustee of the organisation - "due to their great commitment and contribution to the WWF education programme" [Sunday Star Times, October 8 2000]. The alliance between Shell and WWF New Zealand originated during the very period that the oil company was being indicted around the world for its complicity in the Nigerian regime’s destruction of Ogoniland and the consequent judicial murder of nine Ogoni leaders, including Ken Saro-Wiwa. At that time WWF refused to join a host of others in condemning the actions of the oil company, a gesture for which Shell thanked WWF in these terms:

"We very much appreciate your balanced and considered view on this issue... As you can imagine your approach is very welcome to us at the moment" [quoted in Mining Monitor, MPI, Sydney November 2000]

Jason Clay, a Senior WWF fellow (sic), spoke at the Biodiveristy and Business conference sponsored by the Royal Institute of International Affairs (qv) in London in Spring 2000 - he was for several years the editor of Cultural Survival’s magazine in the US.

tragic torment

Amnesty a tale of confusion

26.02.2004 18:21

Further info on Amnesty International's corporate strategy, post 1999.

Following pressure from the grass roots membership Amnesty International UK receeded it's sponsorship with CGU and reevaluated many of it's corporate ties, and for example moved its banking to the CO-OP. Since then the organisation has taken an ad-hoc approach to dealing with companies, it has no genuine ethical or environmental purchasing policy evident in the Nescafe coffee abounding in the offices.

The Business team has grown in importance and recently they have produced reports detailing the potential Human Rights abuses of the BP pipeline. However their stance is one of engaging (read coopted?) with Companies which may be a nice pragmatic approach on paper but evidence suggests changes little and simply plays into the greenwashing tactics of such organisations who are more than ready to sit down and discuss matters with NGOs who have thousands of supporters (but change very little).

Further examples of such tactics include the recent international conference on the trade of conflict diamonds whereby Amnesty and other NGOs sat around the table with many of the worlds biggest mining organisatioins and debated how to make their trade nicer. Again nothing concrete came of this except vague pledges to be better in future and the ability of the Diamond trade to tell everyone how good they were being while supporting death and destruction around the globe.

These organisations rely on people to feel guilty enough to give them money but not engaged enough to care what happens to that money.


3 NGOs taking BP's tainted dollars

27.02.2004 00:00

By the way, the NGOs carrying out 'Community Investment Programme' work for BP's pipeline are Mercy Corps, Save the Children (US) and Care (US. The deal(s) are reputedly worth $5m.

Boris Berezos

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