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About CorpWatch


Our Mission

CorpWatch: Non-profit investigative research and journalism to expose corporate malfeasance and to advocate for multinational corporate accountability and transparency. We work to foster global justice, independent media activism and democratic control over corporations.

We seek to expose multinational corporations that profit from war, fraud, environmental, human rights and other abuses, and to provide critical information to foster a more informed public and an effective democracy.

Click here for our 2010-2011 Combined Report
Click here for our 2007-2009 Combined Report
Click here for our 2006 Annual Report
Click here for our 2005 Annual report
Click here for our 2004 Annual report

Our guiding vision is to promote human, environmental, social and worker rights at the local, national and global levels by making corporate practices more transparent and holding corporations accountable for their actions.

As independent investigative researchers and journalists, we provide critical information 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.

Guiding Principles

CorpWatch is part of a diverse global movement for human rights, social justice, environmental sustainability, peace, corporate transparency and accountability.

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
  • Public 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 

We oppose:

  • Violations of human rights such as torture, discrimination, political repression, or union-busting
  • Ecologically unsustainable business practices, including those that have an adverse impact on local communities or the global environment
  • Secret and unaccountable corporate and government activities
  • Economic 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.

•    We 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 multinationals. 

The 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.

Crocodyl’s goal
is to create social change through democratizing often hard to find and disparate information on corporations and the impacts of their operations.