The Socio-Environmental Youth Collective of Cajamarca (COSAJUCA)

Tolima, Colombia

The Socio-Environmental Youth Collective of Cajamarca (El Colectivo Socio-Ambiental Juvenil de Cajamarca – COSAJUCA) is a civil society organisation that was born in April 2007. It defends human rights with a focus on the defence of the territory as the essence of a dignified life for permanence in the territory. It develops this work based on five principles: non-violence, non-partisanship, autonomy, horizontality and environmental justice.

On the 26th March 2017, the people of Cajamarca, a municipality in Tolima, Colombia, voted with a 98% majority to ban mining in its territory.

One year on, and Cajamarca’s victory has become a beacon of hope and inspiration for many across Colombia, where the on-going peace process has failed to prevent the country becoming the second deadliest nation globally in which to be an environmental defender.

Following Cajamarca’s example, 54 municipalities across Colombia are now organising similar popular consultations, seeking to reject extractive projects in favour of unspoilt nature and sustainable livelihoods.

We work with COSAJUCA and its allies who are challenging the dominant extractivist model of development in Colombia, Latin America and globally. This process is returning decision-making power over the future of living territories to local people, who are engaging in peaceful, direct, human-scale democracy.

National Coordination for Unemployed people's Rights (NCDUR)

Ouargla, Algeria

Just 85km away from Hassi Messaoud, one of the wealth poles of the country and Algeria’s first Energy Town, where all the big oil and gas companies have offices and bases, the unemployed movement National Coordination for Unemployed people's Rights (NCDUR), that started in Ouargla in 2013, succeeded in mobilising tens of thousands of people in huge demonstrations demanding decent jobs and protesting against economic exclusion, social injustice and the underdevelopment of their region. The unemployed of Ouargla rightly wondered why they are not the beneficiaries of the oil wealth that is lying under their feet. How come they continue to suffer from unemployment and political and economic marginalisation while multinationals thrive and plunder their resources?

The movement has played an important role in bringing an anti-imperialist dimension to the anti-fracking uprising that started in January 2015, following the Algerian authorities’ announcement at the end of December 2014 that drilling would begin in the first pilot shale well in In Salah in the Ahnet Basin, by a consortium of three companies: Sonatrach, Total and Partex.

They did so to express their rejection of yet another project that will rob them of their resources, and that will allow multinationals to plunder their riches and maintain a corrupt caste at the head of a state that should serve them rather than bring destruction to their livelihoods. Their struggle has been for more jobs for the disenfranchised and economically disempowered youth; their struggle has been to confront the authorities and challenge them in order to bring about some kind of justice.

Algeria in the 21st century is blighted by political stagnation. Power rests in the hands of a corrupt military and political oligarchy that denies people the right to self-determination, while effectively operating for the benefit of domestic and international capital.

This ruling elite was relatively untouched during the ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011. This was in part because its diffuse form of dictatorship was harder to dislodge than one that offered a precise target for popular resentment, as with Ben Ali in neighbouring Tunisia. Algeria’s own ailing president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has not been seen in public since May 2012. In addition, the regime has used the country’s significant reserves of oil and gas not only to purchase relative peace domestically, but also to secure international acquiescence to its continued rule – Algeria is, for example, the third-largest provider of natural gas to the European Union. Ironically, it is the recent slump in oil prices that may just open up the cracks in the stagnant political model.

The bankruptcy of party politics in Algiers has meant that the growing dissent and discontent of the past few years have been expressed instead through the emergence of social movements organizing around environmental and other issues. These are particularly strong in the Sahara, which provides most of the country’s natural resources and foreign exchange but whose inhabitants have hitherto been marginalised.

War on Want supported NCDUR with their popular education workshops around issues of extractivism, economic justice and sovereignty on energy systems and natural resources.

Saharawi Campaign Against the Plunder (SCAP)

Refugee camps, Tindouf, southern Algeria

Saharawi Campaign Against the Plunder (SCAP) is a grassroots campaign launched in February 2015 by many Sahrawi activists representing different organisations and volunteer groups. SCAP strongly believes that as long as the Moroccan monarchy continues to benefit – with impunity – from the plunder of Western Sahara's natural resources, it will not be pressured to give up the territories it occupied and will make the Saharawi efforts to decolonise the territories even more difficult. Therefore, SCAP is of the view that targeting multinational companies involved in the plunder is synonymous of targeting Morocco's intransigence and ongoing occupation.

The main objectives of SCAP are:
1. To raise awareness among Saharawis in the refugee camps and occupied territories about continuing illegal plunder of Western Sahara resources undertaken by Moroccan occupation and its impact on the conflict.
2. To mobilize Saharawi people to participate in protests against Multinational companies involved in the plunder of Western Sahara resources, such as Irish San Leon Energy, US Kosmos Energy and German Siemens, Scottish Glencore and Irish San Leon among others.
3. To document protests and sharing them with local media, audiences and organisations in areas where these companies are located, in order to mobilise them to make pressure on those companies to stop their activities in occupied Western Sahara.
4. To work in collaboration with local and international allies towards the immediate stop for the illegal plunder of Western Sahara's natural resources by Morocco.
5. To garner support from the largest possible number of international actors and to ensure their active participation in the legal, political and media denunciation of the plunder.

Since started, SCAP has organized around 70 lectures and presentations on the natural resources plunder for Saharawi audiences in the refugee camps and organized more than 45 mass protests, in the refugee camps and occupied territories, against almost all the involved companies. In one of the most remarkable protest, SCAP gathered more than 4000 persons to protest the Irish company San Leon Energy, which explores for oil near El-Aiun, occupied capital of Western Sahara.

Western Sahara had been a Spanish colony from 1884-1885 till 1975. On 6th November 1975, the King of Morocco, Hassan II, launched the “Green March” where around 350,000 Moroccans crossed the border into the territory claiming it as part of Morocco. A week later, Spain, Mauritania and Morocco signed a deathbed document dividing the Spanish Sahara between the two latter countries. Outraged by this, the Polisario Front declared war with both Morocco and Mauritania and proclaimed the independent state of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) on 27th February 1976. As of 2017, SADR has been recognised by 84 UN member states and no other country in the world recognises Morocco's sovereignty on these territories.

By 1979, the Polisario succeeded in forcing the Mauritanians to declare Saharawi sovereignty over the southern territory but the heroic fighting against Moroccan troops continued till a ceasefire was brokered by the UN in 1991. A UN peacekeeping mission (MINURSO) was set up then to organise a referendum on Saharawi self-determination within six months. However, no referendum has been held and the peacekeeping mission has no mandate for monitoring human rights.

As a result of this unresolved conflict, around 170,000 refugees live in desert camps in southern Algeria while thousands of Saharawi citizens who remained in the occupied zone continue to face ongoing violations of their human rights at the hands of the Moroccan state. These include torture, sexual violence, false imprisonment and unfair trials.

The UK and other members of the European Union alongside multinationals continue to profit from trade deals with Morocco that include the resources of Western Sahara, despite legal opinions stating that this is illegal.

War on Want supported SCAP in the production of a publication in Arabic. The report contains information and figures on natural resources in the occupied part of Western Sahara, an introductive list of multinational companies involved, as well as Moroccan political and economic gains from the plunder. In addition to this, it focuses on the legal aspects of the issue and puts forward guidelines on how to contribute as a Saharawi citizen in stopping this illegal plunder.

ATTAC-CADTM

Morocco

ATTAC-CADTM Morocco is an action-orientated movement for popular education. They are grassroots and very engaged in struggles against capitalist globalisation and the hegemony of International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and big powers. They work in the context of an intense neoliberal assault on every sector of the economy, promoting aggressive privatisations and further undermining of workers’ rights.

Any follower of the general scene in Morocco is dazzled by the stark contradictions of a tale of two Moroccos. On the one hand, a Morocco of mega projects: Tanger-Med Port, highways, high-speed trains (on the Train à Grande Vitesse, “high-speed train” TGV model), luxurious cars, villas, palaces and touristic resorts with large pools and vast golf courses. On the other, one finds a Morocco which ranks very low in the human development index (HDI), where 15 percent of the population lives in poverty and, according to a 2014 survey conducted by the High Commission for Planning, children attend school for an average of 4.3 years compared to a world average of 7.7 years.

Moreover, since the adoption of the International Monetary Fund’s structural adjustment programme in the early 1980s, Morocco gave up its food sovereignty and became vulnerable to price fluctuations of staple goods on the global market. The country has to import increasing amounts of wheat to meet its needs. Morocco has also placed the fate of its energy in the hands of international and local private companies whose main interest is the insatiable accumulation of profits at the expense of Moroccans who are forced to pay exorbitant electricity bills which just keep rising.

ATTAC Morocco strives to be a space for critical reflection in order to understand the mechanisms and consequences of the neoliberal assault on Moroccan people. They fight for an alternative globalisation (far from any logic of isolationism) that is grounded in solidarity between peoples where the future is synonymous with social justice, democracy, dignity and sustainable development in a world that is not equated to a market. They have been working on several issues: debt, microcredits, extractivism, workers’ rights, trade justice, environmental and climate justice as well as food sovereignty.

War on Want has supported ATTAC-CADTM Morocco with several projects including:

  • An anti-COP22 international alternative conference in Oct-Nov 2016 that centred on struggles for popular sovereignty
  • The organisation of a regional gathering around neo-colonial trade deals, agriculture and food sovereignty in December 2017
  • An action-research project on Food Sovereignty in Morocco.
     

Tunisian Observatory of Economy (TOE)

Tunis, Tunisia

The Tunisian Observatory of Economy (TOE) is a collective of young researchers, activists and policy analysts that focuses on issues of economic, tax and environmental justice and works on extractivism, trade deals and debt.

In 2011, just after the drop of Ben Ali regime, TOE was first an informal network composed of activists and researchers interested in acting in shifting the development model of Tunisia thanks to the revolution process. It was driven by the same values, vision and mission: influence economic policies towards more equitable and just development, and especially reduce the negative role of international financial institutions. These values and vision were translated into action in the context of the revolution through active, flexible and successful campaigns which helped strengthen the relationship and vision of the members and inspire others. During this stage, the TOE has developed a strong collective leadership and innovative and flexible ways of doing campaigns.

Following these successes, the TOE network has evolved towards the institutionalisation of TOE as an organisation in December 2013, following the World Social Forum held in Tunis in 2013. From an informal network of young citizens analysing debt issues and campaigning for a debt audit, it has evolved towards an organisation in order to leverage experience and strengthen its work to advocate in the institutional landscape on these issues. TOE's experience has been strengthened by the various campaigns it has launched since it started, like the campaign for a public debt audit, and one on the stand-by agreement with the IMF in 2012. Since then, the organisation was officially established on December 2013.

The Tunisian Observatory of Economy’s main vision is to democratise economic issues and to feed a critical and constructive debate, open to a large public among citizens who contribute to influence these policies. It aims thus to demystify the idea that the economy is an issue that only technocrats or experts have to deal with. The objective is that each citizen can understand, act and participate in the elaboration of public policies, on the local and national level. Economic policies have a direct impact on development, economic and social rights and for which the authorities have to be accountable towards citizens.

The need to raise awareness around the negative role of International Financial Institutions in confiscating policy space to promote harmful policies and to develop a genuine understanding of economic reforms and mechanisms emerged as the central challenge. Such problems were relatively little known and understood amongst CSO and citizens. Initial work undertaken by TOE focused heavily on awareness raising, research and policy influence. A series of innovative communication tools on economic issues, awareness raising and training workshops were held in Tunisia as well as advocacy work based on research to influence policies and reduce IFI negative impacts. 

War on Want is supporting TOE's project around the exploitation of shale gas in southern Tunisia, where the Anglo-French company Perenco is involved. The purpose of the project is to document the political, economic, social and environmental impacts of fracking in the region of Douz. We are also working with them on a research-action project around food sovereignty in Tunisia.

Worker Empowerment (WE)

Hong Kong

Worker Empowerment (WE) is a grassroots labour organisation that has developed a community approach to engaging migrants working in industrial zones in mainland China. Based in Hong Kong, WE focuses on promoting awareness amongst workers of labour rights in a number of Chinese provinces. They organise training, cultural activities and provide practical advice and support.

Labour conditions in China have gone through significant changes over the last five years under the background of China’s rapid recovery from the 2008 global economic crisis. This crisis significantly influenced working conditions and access to jobs, with the closure or relocation of factories. It was estimated that 15% cent of China’s migrant workers, about 20 million, lost their jobs or failed to work in early 2009, since business laid off workers to reduce costs. Many migrant workers have had to return to rural areas, suffering from occupational diseases and lack of local institutional support, with few skills for rural livelihoods.

War on Want supports WE’s migrant worker centre in mainland China, which hosts educational and social activities for workers and organises an outreach program to engage workers in industrial areas. This program covers a range of issues, such as women’s rights, labour rights, how to calculate wages and how to better understand entitlements on hours and benefits.

WE has been successfully raising awareness amongst migrant workers about their labour and human rights at work, and existing pathways toward achieving decent work and improving labour conditions. This success is rooted in the work undertaken by the migrant workers’ centre at the grassroots level, where over 105,000 migrant workers have received training, legal support, outreach and education through collective cases. This is particularly significant because they are the only organisation providing these services for migrant workers in the region.

Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM)

Hong Kong

Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior is a labour-rights NGO based in Hong Kong. They emerged in 2005 in response to the injustice of corporations benefiting from the exploitation of cheap labour and the culture of corporate impunity fuelling labour abuses in mainland China.

SACOM has made rigorous research the cornerstone of their work. They have exposed the disconnect between what has been written in Chinese labour laws, the commitment to conditions made by fashion brands and the reality of working conditions in factories. Working with a close network of researchers willing to pose as factory workers for weeks at a time, SACOM has been able to document the reality for workers in factories. War on Want and SACOM have collectively published reports such as Breathless for Blue Jeans and This Way to Dystopia: Exposing UNIQLO’s Abuse of Chinese Garment Workers. The launch of This Way to Dystopia was accompanied by a speaker tour across the UK to raise awareness and increase engagement of people in the UK with an understanding of international supply chains.

Together within a global coalition, our campaign against Japanese fashion giant UNIQLO has significantly improved working conditions at factories in China, Cambodia, and Indonesia. War on Want and SACOM also partner to raise awareness of the labour abuses in factories producing for Apple, and most recently exposed the exploitation of student interns to produce the new iPhone X.

SACOM’s work has led to significant improvements in the factory conditions for workers in the supply chains of these companies. In the process of holding high profile, targeted campaigns, SACOM has also educated consumers on the social costs of purchasing popular products made in China.

The Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR)

Rajagiriya, Sri Lanka

The Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) is building a people's movement for food sovereignty by mobilising and supporting small farmers and marginalised communities to: protect natural resources and human rights; lobby those in power for positive change; and implement alternative food production policies that are sustainable and just.

Founded in 1990, MONLAR was formed as a network of grassroots farmer’s groups alongside NGOs and progressive organisations in other sectors. They emerged following the devastating effects of neoliberal reforms that took place in the 1970s and 1980s. Efforts to integrate Sri Lanka into the globalised economy caused an unprecedented increase in rural poverty, a breakdown in rural small-farmer agriculture, malnutrition among children, a high rate of anaemia among mothers, low birth weight babies, a large increase in income disparities and loss of livelihoods. Today, Sri Lanka is experiencing another wave of neoliberal reforms that is having a detrimental impact on small scale farmers and workers on tea plantations.

War on Want has been supporting MONLAR’s efforts to give voice to rural communities and campaigns for agricultural and land policies that protect them. The movement also helps to improve the self-reliance of local communities through sustainable agriculture, teaching agro-ecology and seed conservation. War on Want is currently collaborating with MONLAR on a land rights project that will involve groundbreaking new research, campaigns and international solidarity work between allies in the global South.

Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union (FTZGSEU)

Colombo, Sri Lanka

FTZGSEU has worked across Sri Lanka’s 14 free trade zones for the past 30 years, drawing international attention to the way free trade zones have eroded rights for workers across the globe. In Sri Lanka, reduced regulatory frameworks and minimal labour rights mostly affect women working in the garment industry. Workers face unattainable production targets that increase day by day, and the monthly wage in factories inside and outside the Free Trade Zones is about £28.

War on Want and FTZGSEU have been working in partnership for more than ten years. Together we have implemented projects focusing on the promotion of workers’ rights and on securing safe workplaces for garment workers in free trade zones. Most recently, War on Want has supported FTZGSEU’s opening of the first union office in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, supporting Tamil women in the factory areas to learn more about their rights and collective organising.

FTZGSEU have played a leading role in creating new policy on GSP+ through direct engagement with both the EU and the ILO. This has led to unprecedented achievements with regard to the EU’s policy and protections for labour rights monitoring linked to trade policy, which will impact all countries with GSP+ arrangements with the EU in a move that has been widely celebrated. The union has been instrumental in signing collective bargaining agreements in the country and winning compensation for workers who have fought for their rights at the bottom of the garment supply chain. War on Want has been privileged to stand alongside FTZGSEU organisers as they won monumental increases in wages and as they work steadily towards achieving a living wage.

Act Now! PNG

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Act Now! PNG is a small, community advocacy organisation that helps people to make their voices heard. They use the internet, social networking and community engagement to highlight critical issues affecting Papua New Guinea, such as land grabs, corruption, poverty, and corporate impunity. Act Now! also provides a critical pathway for voices of indigenous people across the country to be heard in the formulation of practical, realistic solutions, in line with the existing constitution and laws of the country.

Papua New Guinea has been formally independent since 1975. Land is the most important resource for the peoples of PNG. Most of the land, around 85%, is held communally. All native people have an inalienable right by birth to use and enjoy their traditional lands. In spite of this, the PNG Government’s development policies see customary land as a fundamental impediment to development and economic growth, and a steady stream of policies have worked to privatise land. In just a decade, over 12% of its pristine rainforests have been acquired by foreign companies who have logged enormous amounts of land under the guise of ‘sustainable’ palm oil agriculture.

War on Want works with Act Now! to document and raise awareness around the human impacts of land grabs. With limited access to information about land policy and the rights of affected communities, this project has already proved to be an enormous success. We are currently working together to expose the role of foreign companies in illegally acquiring land under the guise of sustainable palm oil.

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