WWF publishes investigation into allegations it was funding rangers accused of torture and killings

This is an onsite edited excerpt of the G|O Briefing newsletter

In March of 2019, in a lengthy investigation conducted in Africa and Asia, Buzzfeed accused WWF of funding “vicious paramilitary forces to fight poaching.” Buzzfeed accused WWF of having provided “high-tech enforcement, cash, and weapons to forces implicated in atrocities against indigenous communities.” The story made headlines around the world and shocked the conversationist movement.

In response, the Gland-based organization set-up an independent commission chaired by former United Nations High-Commissioner for Human Rights Navy Pillay to investigate the accusations. Nineteen months later, the highly anticipated, 193 pages long report “Embedding Human Rights in Conservation” was published today on the organization’s website and presented during an online press conference.

While confirming the allegations, the report denies that WWF personnel was ever involved in such violations or incited them. “The rangers accused of abuses were employed and managed by governments, not WWF,” write the investigators. In the body of its report, however, WWF recognizes that it “has not fulfilled its human rights commitments with regard to the activities it supports in Salonga National Park” in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The independent investigators’ report makes eleven recommendations and details specific actions that should be taken to correct the shortcomings they identified, main among them the failure to follow-up the complaints about the rangers which were swept under the rug.

Quoted by the Swiss News Agency, WWF Director General Marco Lambertini said its organisation will implement all the report’s recommendations. “We recognize our responsibility, and I am saddened by the fact that people had to suffer.”