War on Want

War on Want is an anti-poverty charity based in London, England, which highlights the needs of poverty-stricken areas around the world, lobbying governments and international agencies to tackle problems, as well as raising public awareness of the concerns of developing nations while supporting organisations throughout the third world. War on Want tends to focus on the root causes of poverty rather than its effects, and places importance on enabling people in poverty to solve their own problems.

With the slogan "poverty is political," War on Want focuses on the root causes of poverty rather than its effects, challenging the power structures which they believe keep people poor.

Current work

To achieve its goal of poverty eradication, War on Want works with grassroots partner organisations in the developing world, and campaigns in the UK to raise public awareness and change government policy.

In its campaigning and programmes strands of work, War on Want focuses on
* corporate accountability
* private security companies
* the rights of Palestinians and putting a stop to the separation wall
* the rights of the Saharawi in Western Sahara
* informal economy
* sweatshop and plantation workers
* trade justice
* food justice
* halting the privatisation of vital resources in developing nations

Organisations supported include ones that support child labourers in Guatemala, olive farmers in the Palestinian territories and factory workers in China.

War on Want has released a series of 'alternative reports' highlighing issues such as Coca-Cola's overseas activities allegedly causing poverty and environmental damage. They also recently released research on private military and security companies in Iraq and elsewhere being involved in human rights abuses, and a report highlighting how companies such as Tesco, Primark and Asda sell goods made by sweatshop labour in Bangladesh. War on Want's campaigns on corporations call for the British government to regulate these industries as well as the businesses themselves to take responsibility for their actions.

At the 2006 and 2007 Q Awards the magazine named War on Want its official charity.


The organisation was formed in 1951 after a letter from Victor Gollancz to "The Guardian" was read by the future Prime Minister Harold Wilson, who coined the name. Since then, the organisation has taken part in many campaigns and investigations, including in the 1970s helping to expose baby food companies marketing powdered milk infant formula as a healthier option than breast milk to mothers in the developing world - a dangerous and expensive option for these mothers who had no access to safe drinking water and sterilisation facilities.

In the 1980s, War on Want campaigned on the role of women in the developing world, and supported liberation movements in Eritrea, South Africa and Western Sahara.

From 1983 to 1987, George Galloway was General Secretary of War On Want. The Daily Mirror accused him of living luxuriously at the charity's expense. An independent auditor cleared him of misuse of funds, though he did repay £1,720 in contested expenses.More than two years after Galloway stepped down as General Secretary to serve as a Labour MP, the UK government's Charity Commission investigated War on Want, finding accounting irregularities including that the financial reports were "materially mis-stated" [cite web|date=2003-04-23 |url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/04/24/ngall124.xml |title= Leadership of War on Want marked by turbulence and tension |publisher=The Daily Telegraph |accessdate=2007-02-07] from 1985 to 1989, but little evidence that money was used for non-charitable purposes. Galloway had been general secretary for the first three of those years. The commission said responsibility lay largely with auditors and did not single out individuals for blame. War On Want was found to have been insolvent, and subsequently dismissed all its staff and went into administration. It was rescued and relaunched in 1991.

In the 1990s, it focused on issues that resulted from globalisation, including workers' rights and a call to set up a Tobin Tax on currency speculation.


Their expenditure in 2004/2005 was almost £1.7million, of which £900,000 went towards partners overseas, £450,000 for campaigning and development education, £260,000 towards fundraising, and £58,000 for management and administration.

Praise and criticism of activities

Israeli group NGO monitor has accused War On Want of being "involved in international lobbying to isolate Israel" [cite web|date=2007-01-15 |url=http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/war_on_want_wages_war_on_israel_update_ |title=War on Want Wages War on Israel (Update) |publisher=NGO Monitor |accessdate=2007-02-07] in its campaign material.

Author and Middle East commentator Dr Denis MacEoin wrote to both War on Want and the UK Charity Commission about the Christmas cards. He alleged a lack of context and a political agenda which he says is one sided and seeks to "condemn Israel while lending support to a notorious terrorist organization" [cite web|date=2006-12-30 |url=http://mid-eastplus.blogspot.com/2006/12/new-christmas-myth.html |title=The new Christmas myth |publisher=Dr Denis MacEoin |accessdate=2007-02-07] .

Following a number of complaints to the commission (including one from Teresa Villiers, the Conservative Party's shadow secretary of state for transport) alleging the charity was abusing its status with highly politicized campaigns that demonize Israel, the regulatory body found in favour of War on Want, declaring itself satisfied that the charity's trustees understood the official guidance on campaigning by charities and that War on Want's campaigns on Palestine were linked to its charitable objects, making them perfectly legitimate under charity law [cite web|date=2008-05-16 |url=http://www.thejc.com/home.aspx?ParentId=m11s18&SecId=18&AId=60130&ATypeId=1 |title=Charity’s anti-Israel stance sanctioned by watchdog |publisher=The Jewish Cronicle |accessdate=2008-06-20] .

War on Want's campaign for Palestinian human rights has drawn praise from The Guardian, who named the charity "Campaign of the Week" [cite web|date=2007-07-25|url=http://environment.guardian.co.uk/whatcanido/story/0,,1845068,00.html |title=Campaign of the Week|publisher=The Guardian|accessdate=2007-02-09] . The accolade was in response to War on Want's "Profiting from the Occupation", a report on European corporations who are profiting from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.

References and footnotes

ee also

* The Make Poverty History coalition, of which War on Want is a member
* Nestlé boycott
* Harold John Timperley (secretary and treasurer in the 1950s)
* Solidar, a European network of development and social welfare organisations that War on Want is affiliated to.

External links

* [http://www.waronwant.org War on Want] their main website
* [http://www.waronwant.org/email Latest newsletter]
* [http://www.waronwant.org/download.php?id=443 Profiting from the Occupation] report, which earned War on Want The Guardian's Campaign of the Week.
* [http://www.myspace.com/war_on_want War on Want on myspace]

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