“Land grabbing, corruption, human rights abuse – the exploitation of the global poor”

rubber_baronsJulian Oram is Land Campaign leader at Global Witness.  Many of the world’s worst environmental and human rights abuses are driven by the exploitation of natural resources and corruption in the global political and economic system.  Global Witness campaigns to end this by carrying out hard-hitting investigations to expose these abuses and campaign for change.  Julian will cover the following issues:

  • Why has land grabbing become a major global social issue, and what have been the recent drivers behind the dramatic rise in large-scale land acquisitions over the past 10-15 years.
  • Where are the current major global ‘hot spots’ of land grabbing, and what are the consequences in terms of livelihoods, poverty, culture, social disruption, governance, conflict and environmental destruction?
  • What have been some of the social, political and market responses at local, national and international levels?
  • Focus on the Greater Mekong Region: recent causes and effects of land grabbing in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar; and how GW is working with our partners and allies to address land governance issues in the region?

Recording of event:


Philanthrocapitalism: who really benefits from the Philanthropy Industry?

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 20.17.19Large charitable organisations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, are currently rivalling governments as the providers of social welfare, yet the businesses which generate their charitable largesse frequently contribute to economic instability and compound global inequalities. There are 85,000 of these private foundations in the US, about 5,000 now established each year, and the distinction between profit making and benign activity is becoming increasingly blurred. Linsey McGoey is a senior lecturer in sociology at the University of Essex, and a former adviser to the WHO. She has published widely in the media, and her new book No Such Thing as a Free Gift: the Gates Foundation and the Price of Philanthropy (Verso, 2015) examines the issue, asking whether this market-based philanthropy is actually doing good or simply perpetuating the inequalities it purports to remedy.


THE NEW SLAVERY: Human trafficking and the use of slave labour

kevin_bales_disposable_peoplekevin_balesHigh profit exploitation of people is increasing rapidly with globalisation of markets and millions of people are being subjected to a form of modern day slavery. With millions plunged into economic vulnerability by famine and market forces  and many more displaced and forced to flee because of war, the scale of the problem is huge and often ignored or condoned by corporations, governments and international bodies. At the same time highly organised and sophisticated criminal groups are making enormous profit out of human trafficking that has devastating consequences  for women and children in particular.
Kevin Bales is Professor of Contemporary Slavery and and Deputy Director of the Wilberforce institute for the Study of Slavery at the University of Hull. He is a Co-Founder of Free the Slaves and has for many years been one of the leading campaigners on the issue of modern day slavery, advising governments and the UN as well as writing extensively about the issue. In 2002 his documentary film ‘Slavery: A Global Investigation’ won the Emmy Award for best documentary. He will look at the current situation regarding slavery and human trafficking and what should be done to improve it, in particular in relation to the refugee crisis that is engulfing the Middle East. Professor Bales has written two books “Disposable People” and “Ending Slavery”   See also the link to TED talk on slavery in February 2010


BRAZIL on the verge of crisis? The real depth of ‘impeachment’

In size the fifth largest country in the world and with an economy that is the seventh largest by GDP, Brazil looked set to be a successful rising global power.  However since her re-election last year the President, Dilma Rousseff, has become hugely unpopular and there are calls for her impeachment and removal from power. Against a background of endemic corruption the economy is in crisis with outflows of capital and contracting GDP and the political scenario has been described as the worst since the return of democracy in the 1980s. The social consequences of this meltdown have been felt  with growing social protest and one of the highest rates of death through violence in the world.

Juan Grigera is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow based at the UCL Institute of the Americas and is undertaking research on the long term economic performance of Brazil and Argentina from the 1950s. He will look at the current economic and political situation in Brazil and the longer term prospects for political and economic stability.