Anti-corruption campaigner Charmian Gooch presented as Fellow of Aberystwyth University

Charmian Gooch, Honorary Fellow of Aberystwyth University (centre) with Dr Glyn Rowlands, Pro-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University and Dr Engobo Emeseh, Department of Law and Criminology

Charmian Gooch, Honorary Fellow of Aberystwyth University (centre) with Dr Glyn Rowlands, Pro-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University and Dr Engobo Emeseh, Department of Law and Criminology

12 July 2016

Co-founder and director of Global Witness, Charmian Gooch, has been honoured as Fellow of Aberystwyth University.

Global Witness is a non-profit organisation campaigning to end environmental and human rights abuses which are driven by the exploitation of natural resources and corruption in the global political and economic system.

Charmian jointly led Global Witness’s first campaign, exposing the trade in timber between the Khmer Rouge and Thai logging companies and their political and military backers.

She also developed and launched their campaign to combat ‘blood diamonds’, work for which Global Witness was nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize.

An alumna of the University (BA History, 1987), Charmian won the annual TED Prize for 2014, and along with her co-founders of Global Witness, has received a Gleitsman International Activist Award and Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship. In 2014 she was named on Bloomberg Markets’ 50 Most Influential list.

Charmian Gooch was presented as Fellow on Tuesday 12 July by Dr Engobo Emeseh, Department of Law and Criminology.

Presentation of Charmian Gooch:

Canghellor/Dirprwy Ganghellor/Trysorydd, Is-Ganghellor, darpar raddedigion, gyfeillion.  Pleser o’r mwyaf yw cyflwyno Charmian Gooch yn gymrawd Prifysgol Aberystwyth.

Chancellor/Pro Chancellor/Treasurer, Vice-Chancellor, prospective graduates and supporters.  It is an honour and a privilege to present Charmian Gooch as a Fellow of Aberystwyth University.

Charmian Gooch is a foremost campaigner and investigator dedicated to exposing and addressing the deep dark underbelly of natural resources exploitation – the most egregious forms of environmental and human rights abuses- and its intricate links with corruption in the global political and economic system.  She is director and co-founder of Global Witness, a non-profit organisation whose mission it is to campaign to end these abuses.

In the two decades since its establishment, Global Witness has been involved in several ground-breaking investigations, and campaigns that have brought about real change and for which both Charmian and Global Witness has received recognition and awards at the highest levels.  Two of these campaigns that were specifically led by Charmian include:

  • Global Witness's first campaign from 1995-1997 exposing the illegal trade in timber between the Khmer Rouge and Thai logging companies and how it helped fund the conflict. The advocacy leading on from this led to the closure of the border, depriving the Khmer Rouge of $90 million a year, a factor that undoubtedly contributed to their ultimate downfall. 
  • Perhaps by far the best known investigation and campaign by Global Witness is that aptly named “blood diamonds”,  which exposed how diamonds was fueling civil war in Angola and across Africa,  facilitated by the practices of the global diamond industry which turned a blind eye to the sources  of these diamonds.  This led to the development of a whole new governance framework for a certification scheme in the trade in diamonds known as the “Kimberly process”. Charmian it was who developed and launched this campaign.  For this ground-breaking work, Global Witness was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003.
  • Other notable campaigns by Global Witness include that which led to the establishment of the EITI and PWYP in 2002 aimed at addressing corruption in the minerals sector; exposure of the illegal timber trade funding conflict in Charles’ Taylors Liberia resulting UN sanctions, forcing the renegotiation of an unfair Minerals contract by Mittal Steel in Liberia.


Charmian, together with Global Witness co-founders Patrick Alley and Simon Taylor, was also the recipient of the Gleitsman International Activist Award In 2005.  In 2014, they received the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, awarded to ‘transformative leaders who are disrupting the status quo’.

Charmian was also named one of Fast Company’s 100 most creative people in business and appeared on Bloomberg Markets’ 50 Most Influential list. She is also a member of the World Economic Forum Young Global Leader Alumni Group.

In 2014 Charmian was awarded the TED Prize, given to an ‘extraordinary individual with a creative and bold vision to spark global change’.   She is using the million dollar award to campaign against another huge challenge- “to make it impossible for criminals and corrupt dictators to hide behind anonymous companies” otherwise known as shell companies “so that they can no longer be used anonymously against the public good”.  In her words, “Let's ignite world opinion, change the law, and together launch a new era of openness in business.”

As an activist, Charmian is an inspiration.  Her uniqueness and success as an activist is rooted in that rare ability to undertake thorough, well researched investigations, and transform a campaign into tangible mechanisms that can effect change on the ground.  It is therefore all the more humbling when one realises that she and her co-founders at Global Witness started with a “first computer out of a bin outside their office and relied on friends and family to pay for their international calls”.  It shows that she was  really too idealistic to dare to stand on the side of the weak, the poor, the disenfranchised; taking on the powerful corporations, governments and the global economic governance systems.  Example like hers allows all today, especially at the start of our journey after graduation to also dream a little… and hope… and act!

Dirprwy Ganghellor, mae’n bleser gen i gyflwyno Charmian Gooch i chi yn Gymrawd. 

Pro Chancellor, it is my absolute pleasure to present Charmian Gooch to you as a Fellow of Aberystwyth University.

Aberystwyth University Honours 2016

Twelve individuals are being honoured by Aberystwyth University during the 2016 graduation ceremonies, which take place at the University’s Arts Centre from Tuesday 12 July until Friday 15 July.

Eight Honorary Fellowships will be presented to individuals who have, or have had a connection with Aberystwyth or Wales, and who have made an outstanding contribution to their chosen field.

One Honorary Doctorate degree will be presented.  These are presented to individuals who have been outstandingly successful in their field, or who have a long record of renowned research and publication.

Three Honorary Bachelor degrees will be presented.  These are presented to individuals who are members of Aberystwyth University staff without an entry-level degree in recognition of long-service, contribution and dedication to the Institution; and members of the local community who have made a significant contribution to Aberystwyth and the area.

Also being honoured are:

Honorary Fellowships:

Dr Catherine Bishop, triple Olympian, international conflict diplomat and experienced speaker and facilitator

Natasha Devon MBE, writer, campaigner, television pundit, and founder of the Self Esteem Team

Professor Julian Dowdeswell, Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute and a Professor of Physical Geography at the University of Cambridge

Ruth Lambert MBE, former Chairman of the Machynlleth Tabernacle Trust, who organised the Machynlleth Festival and the exhibition programme of MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) Machynlleth for almost thirty years

Dr Mitch Robinson, international law specialist for the US Department of Defense specialising in human rights, and an alumnus of the University

Sir Evans Paul Silk KCB, President of the Study of Parliament Group; formerly clerk in the British House of Commons, Clerk to the National Assembly for Wales and chair of the Commission on Devolution in Wales

A J S “Bill” Williams MBE (1920-2016), RAF pilot and Aberystwyth University lecturer named in 2014 as one of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s 175 Faces of Chemistry.

Honorary Doctorate Degree:

Professor Ken Walters, Distinguished Research Professor in the University’s Institute of Mathematics, Physics and Computer Science, founding fellow of the Learned Society of Wales and a Fellow of the Royal Society

Honorary Bachelor Degrees:

Karina Shaw, Assistant Headteacher at Ysgol Penglais, Aberystwyth, Director of the Penparcau Community Forum, founder member and current Chairwoman of the Penparcau History and Heritage group, and charity volunteer

Aled Haydn Jones, Welsh radio editor, presenter and former radio producer with BBC Radio 1, and presenter with S4C.

Stefan Osgood (1994-2016), who achieved and contributed a great deal while studying at Aberystwyth, including through his involvement in sports, and as an exceptional contributor to Raising and Giving at the University

Charmian Gooch, Honorary Fellow of Aberystwyth University (centre) with Dr Glyn Rowlands, Pro-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University and Dr Engobo Emeseh, Department of Law and Criminology


Charmian Gooch

Charmian Gooch with Vice-Chancellor, Professor April McMahon