Our History

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. Our organization is a project of the Social Good Fund * and we are guided by our Advisory Board.

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.

Here is a list of some of our notable accomplishments in the last two decades. 

Environment, Economy and Human Rights

  • 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 began 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, with a report titled Tangled Up in Blue.
  • 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 the publication of 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.
  • The EuroZone Profiteers - a 2013 CorpWatch report exposed how reckless lending by Belgian, French and German banks helped precipitate the EuroZone crisis by profiting out of Greece, Ireland and Spain.

War Profiteering: Afghanistan, Iraq and the Drone War

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 Afghanistan and Iraq.

U.S. Government

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