Lynda Chalker, or ‘Baroness Chalker of Wallasey’ (of Leigh-on-Sea in the County of Essex) began her career as a statistician and market research manager at Unilever’s research bureau (1963-69) also working at Shell Mex, Kodak and BP. She became chair of the Young Conservatives from 1970-71 and shortly after this the Chief Executive of the International division of Louis Harris International and in 1977 a member of the Royal Institute for International Affairs (RIIA) and later the Ditchley Foundation.
She was MP for Wallasey from 1974-92, and following the loss of her seat she was made a Life Peer. During her time in office Chalker was Under-Secretary of State DHSS (1979-82), a time largely remembered for the removal of benefits from the poor; then with the Dept. of Transport (1982-83) and as Minister of State for Africa & the Commonwealth at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 1986-97 — an opportunity which provided very lucrative connections to the exploitation of Africa’s mineral wealth, discussed below.
She is one of only four ministers who served consecutively throughout the 18-year period of the Thatcher and Major governments in the UK. A difficult period to emerge from without criticism, and these have included the observation by John Pilger that:
“Shortly after the  massacre the British Government increased its aid to the Suharto regime to £81 million, a rise of 250 per cent. The Minister for Overseas Aid, Baroness Chalker, claimed in Parliament that this was “helping the poor in Indonesia”. In fact, a large proportion of all British aid to Indonesia is made up of Aid for Trade Provisions (ATP); and much of this is the supply of weapons: British Aerospace, maker of Hawk aircraft, is among the British weapons companies helping Indonesia’s poor.”
“In May 1995 the British foreign office minister Baroness Chalker signed an £80 million loan to Indonesia, saying the country’s human rights record had improved. The 25-year loan, with annual interest of just 3.5%, is the fifth such loan from Britain since 1986.”
In exchanges in the Lords, Chalker argued (no matter what the question) that support — even if it is used for repression — encourages countries to ‘improve,’ and that the ‘aid’ is profitable for certain UK companies. The Conservative administration tied aid to political and commercial considerations — as a sweetener for defence deals — the most spectacular being the 1994 Pergau Dam affair. At the time, Chalker denied any link between British aid and arms sales to Malaysia stating: “There is no question of linking aid and arms “deals”.” The Prime Minister’s office described the timing of the arms sales as “merely a coincidence”.
“A judicial review brought by an NGO led to a High Court ruling in November 1994 that aid for Pergau was in violation of the Overseas Development Act 1980, which allows the Foreign Secretary to make payments “for the purpose of promoting the development or maintaining the economy of a country or territory outside the UK or the welfare of its people.” The High Court ruled that the project was not of economic or humanitarian benefit to the Malaysian people.”
Such transactions have underwritten the expansion of a private conflict management industry as personified by Chalker’s Private Secretary (1991-97), Andrew Bearpark, the current Director General of the British Association of Private Security Companies, recently formed to exploit the UK’s world leadership in “the provision of armed security services” and the almost complete absence of any form of regulation or scrutiny (largely because it contains elements of government sanctioned piracy). Bearpark is currently with Olive Security which is a partner (together with many private security firms) with Chalker’s British Consultants and Construction Bureau. Bearpark and Chalker also operate as Trustees of the FreePlay Foundation which has become part of the U.S. psy-op Commando Solo.
Bearpark is an adviser to governments, international organizations and the commercial sector on ‘post conflict reconstruction’. He is the former (2003-04) Director of Operations and Infrastructure for the Coalition Provisional Authority, Iraq as the occupying power is known, working as a top aide to Paul Bremer — helping distribute the famous shrink-wrapped ‘cash-bricks’.
Bearpark was also EU Representative with responsibility for economic development in Kosovo (2000-03), with a similar role in the Reconstruction and Return Task Force, Sarajevo, Bosnia (1998-00). Bearpark also served as Private Secretary and later Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (1986-91), whose son, Mark proved something of a freelance in the field of ‘private security’ himself.
Bearpark is also part of the Security Management Initiative (SMI) which runs ‘invitation only’ courses to ‘advance the development of policy and information tools on security management in conflict areas.’ Its faculty is dominated by members of Control Risks and the drive of their endeavors can be illustrated by the work of SMI’s James Cameron, Associate Director Governance and Development in Control Risks, formerly Assistant Director Counter Terrorism in the British Ministry Of Defence.
“During his military career Mr. Cameron commanded Infantry units up to Battalion level on operations in several conflict zones, including Northern Ireland, and he established a pedigree of close interaction with development organisations and NGOs whose objectives he was able to enhance and blend with Security imperatives.”
This subtle ‘blending’ of the activities of NGOs with the covert world of the security services, mercenary groups and so forth is not without its history and problems. Leaving aside aspects of subversion and assassination (such as the murder of Greenpeace activists by the DGSE), The tangled intrigue of Government foreign policy may well fuel conflict (as with East Timor above) by offering covert/overt support to oppressive regimes and/or proxy forces — such as the Afghan Mujahideen or the Contras. Agents of a foreign power need a cover from which to operate (illegally and with deniability) and from which to draw intelligence: these and many other factors endangers the work of legitimate NGOs. Similarly if the larger NGOs become de facto agents of Government themselves (as is increasingly the case) their work has been known to go completely against their stated objectives and counter to genuine humanitarian efforts.
In this respect see the entrys for Transparency International and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy particularly in reference to the latter’s formation. However we turn now to Chalker’s work in Africaand her business connections there.
Chalker currently operates as an independent adviser on projects across the mining and investment promotion sector developing links with Governments and other international organizations in Africa via International Investment Councils in Tanzania, Zambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and sub-Saharan Africa, together with business and institutions in Britain (such as the Commonwealth Business Council) and specifically through her own commercial consultancy, Africa Matters Ltd., established in 1997 (after she lost her government position as Minister for Overseas Development) ‘to assist private sector development in Africa by providing guidance and advice on managing the interface between the public and private sectors.’A nice way of putting it.
Chalker uses Africa Matters to extend her role as, for example, co-ordinator of the Honorary International Investor Council for the President of Nigeria alongside a team of former Unilever and FCO people who comprise and run her Chalker Foundation for Africa.
She manages to combine all this discreet consultancy work with a non-executive position with AngloGold Ashanti Goldfields Company Ltd., an African-based international gold mining and exploration group with seven producing mines in four African countries — Ghana, Guinea, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The major shareholder is Anglo AmericanPlc and the company was formerly owned by Lonrho plc whose owner, ‘Tiny’ Rowland was dubbed ‘the unacceptable face of capitalism’ by Edward Heath.
Together with fellow AngloGold Ashanti director, Sir Sam Jonah (see note 1), she is also a Non-executive Director of Equator Energy Limited which was founded in 2000 and listed on the London Stock Exchange in December 2004, raising £60 million to fund its exploration activities in the highly prospective waters of the Gulf of Guinea and the territorial waters of Nigeria. Equator is also currently evaluating other opportunities in West Africa, including Nigeria, Congo and Equatorial Guinea.
As a non-executive Chalker sits on AngloGold Ashanti Corporate Governance Committee, responsible for the monitoring of the general conduct of directors and for the non-financial aspects of safety, health and environmental issues. Soros’ Human Rights Watch’s report, “The Curse of Gold,” provides details of how AngloGold Ashanti “developed links with one murderous armed group, the Nationalist and Integrationist Front (FNI), helping them to access the gold-rich mining site around the town of Mongbwalu in the northeastern Ituri district.” Quotes from the report include:
”Witness of atrocities by the UPC armed group in a village near to Mongbwalu”:
I saw many people tied up ready to be executed. The UPC said they were going to kill them all. They made the Lendu dig their own graves… [then] they killed the people by hitting them on the head with a sledgehammer.
”A Congolese government official”:
“We just watch our country’s resources drain away with no benefit to the Congolese people.”
”Charles Carter, Vice President at AngloGold Ashanti”:
The company has made preparations to “commence exploration drilling on the Kimin prospect [OKIMO] in the Ituri region of the DRC…[W]hile this is obviously a tough environment right now, we are looking forward to the opportunity to fully explore the properties we have in the Congo, believing that we now have access to potentially exciting growth prospects in Central Africa.”
”Local observer to events in the mining regions”:
“Njabu [President of the FNI] now has power due to the gold he controls and [the presence of] AngloGold Ashanti. This is his ace and he will use it to get power in Kinshasa.
Taken as a whole the people who operate Ashanti exploit African resources (not just gold, their other interests spread to diamonds and other rare minerals) and there is little history of a concrete intent to re-invest this wealth in the lives of the common people of Africa. Board members have connections to Cluff Resources Plc (with whom the company operates) part of Algy Cluff’s operations (see David French). With the Council on Foreign Relations’ Dr. Chester Arthur Crocker on the Ashanti board (a professor of strategic studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, Chairman of the United States Institute of Peace, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs between 1981-89, member of the American Academy of Diplomacy and the International Institute of Strategic Studies). In Chalker’s connection to the RIIA and Cluff’s involvement with The Round Table we can see continuities going back to the days of Cecil Rhodes and extend this with Ashanti’s connection to Lonrho (the London Rhodesia Company previously owned by ‘Tiny’ Rowland).
The ‘curse’ of gold alluded to in the title of the Human Rights Watch report seems more a ”culture”.
Unilever and the ‘Triple Bottom Line’
Chalker is also a Non-executive Director of Unilever, where she chairs their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Committee. At conferences she stresses the need for charities to engage with ‘corporates’ — with their objectives and operations rather than just thinking of a cash ‘donation’ — in other words to become subsumed within their exploitative ethos. She makes it plain that there is a: “Shift towards greater degree of partnership even with tough campaigning organisations,” with the ugly insistence that:
“You are dealing with a business which will be thinking every step of the way: What’s in it for me? […] Remember that for a corporate the bottom line of the ‘Triple Bottom Line’ is the financial bottom line: CSR is integral to fulfilling a corporate purpose and must contribute to the drive for business growth and success.”
In the world of CSR there is no responsibility in the sense of giving because of human compassion or empathy or the identification of need and want. Even the days of all those over-sized cheques which employees struggle to present at charity phone-ins seems Francis Assisi-like compared to Chalker’s view: according to her CSR is “Not a philanthropic initiative but a marketing programme with social benefits.” And this is the line we see taken in promotions such as Unilever’s ‘Swasthya Chetna’ campaign.
Initially devised at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the public-private partnership project “Washing Hands” was launched by the World Bank, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, USAID, UNICEF, WHO and the three biggest Multi-National Companies producing soap: Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Colgate Palmolive, and then at a country level the governments who control access to the potential markets — the poor.
In India, half a billion people do not have access to proper sanitation and are scattered around in rural and peri-urban areas. Reaching them is a costly proposition for any soap-selling corporation: and the plan was it would be underwritten and facilitated by the ‘Global Handwashing Partnership,’ with a hygiene and medicine spin.
“However, the programme came unstuck in one place — Kerala […] the partnership began in this state in early 2001 with the Indian Soap & Toiletries Manufacturers’ Association (ISTMA). “Hindustan Lever Ltd, the largest private soap manufacturer in India and a key member of ISTMA, played an active role in developing the public-private partnership,” the document relates. “UNICEF, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and a number of NGOs were also involved.” This correspondent recalled how Hindustan Lever executives were also present at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg the following year to publicise the campaign.”
Analysis of the actuality of Unilever’s campaign in Kerala have found much ‘marketing programme’ but little ‘social benefit’. In several highly critical articles, Vandana Shiva has also spoken out on Unilever and Monsanto’s attempts to control even the water needed for washing, adding that:
Local resistance to the ‘Swasthya Chetna’ scheme has taken the form of environmental and anti-globalisation activists joined by other high-profile groups, including doctors, local newspapers and opposition groups:
“The main points of criticism were: (a) the choice of Kerala for the program in view of its already high human development indicators; (b) unclear linkage between handwashing and health improvement; (c) the potential adverse effect on the indigenous and local soap industry by increasing the market share of multinational soap companies; and (d) the suggestion that the state government was capitulating to World Bank pressure. In the face of media attacks and after a long period of inaction, the state cabinet decided to abandon the program in August 2003.”
Vandana Shiva has added:
“The project is also launched to legitimise water privatisation through private-public partnerships, which are aimed at undermining people’s water rights and the State’s duties to protect water and people’s water rights. The case of Coca Cola destroying water in Kerala by extracting 1.5m litres per day for its bottling plant is an example of how “private-public Partnerships” are a recipe for over exploitation of scarce fresh water resources and a threat to people’s water rights and a recipe for creating thirst and disease.”
It should be noted that Chalker is the chair of the Board of Management of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, cited previously as a partner with Unilever in instigating the project for the benefit of Unlilever’s triple bottom line. They presumably offer some form of academic credence towards the venture but this is somewhat compromised by the fact that the School’s Environmental Health Group is funded by Unilever. One hand washes the other you might say. What is the priority here? According to Unilever:
“Swasthya Chetna is not a philanthropic initiative but a marketing programme with social benefits. In 2005 sales increased by 10%, with particularly strong growth in the eight states where the programme was launched.”
Companies have repositioned their offer of a charitable pittance as a screen for ever decreasing wages and the absence of even this with indentured servant consumer-employees, as those involved in these project become. And this does not change no matter what the circumstances are:
“Baroness Chalker said that through Unilever, a multinational company in which she serves as a Director, “we can create a market place in Rwanda which can provide a good future for the company and the economy of Rwanda.””
Thus Chalker is also patron of RUGO, the Rwanda UK Goodwill Organisation. Chalker is the classic case of theose who ‘do good’ by ‘doing well’.
The Rt. Hon. The Lord Leon Brittan of Spennithorne, QC (Also chairman of UBS Investment Bank, a consultant for Herbert Smith and a member of the international advisory committee for Total)
The Lord Simon of Highbury, CBE (Former chairman of BP, vice president of the European Round Table of Industrialists, a non-executive director of the Bank of England, Rio Tinto and Grand Metropolitan, and a member of the advisory boards of Deutsche Bank and Allianz).
Jeroen van der Veer (Chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell)
As with many of Shell and BP’s directors, Grote is a government ‘advisor’, in this case with the Treasury’s Public Services Productivity Panel. Other outside members include John Makinson, Group Finance Director of Pearson plc, Dame Sheila Masters of KPMG, John Mayo, Finance Director of Marconi, Clare Spottiswoode, Associate Partner at the PA Consulting Group, Andrew Foster of the Audit Commission and John Dowdy, a Principal with McKinsey.
Charles E. Golden (Eli Lilly and Co. (the U.S, Pharmaceutical company which introduced Prozac), Elanco Animal Health Group, Clarian Health Partners, Hillenbrand Industries, Vice President of General Motors and Chairman and Managing Director of Vauxhall Ltd, member of the National Advisory Board of JP Morgan Chase.
Mr Kees J Storm (Executive Board of Directors of AEGON, one of the world’s largest insurance groups, also Chairman of the Supervisory Board of various other international companies, such as Koninklijke Wessanen, a multinational food company based in the Netherlands, specializing in marketing, distribution and production of health products; and of KLM, the airline carrier of the Netherlands.
here’s a suggestion for a Unilever product: ‘Lady MacBeth Soap’ washes blood away from even the most stubborn hands!
The merchant bank Merchant Bridge and Co. Ltd describes itself as ‘the bridge between the Middle-east and the World Financial Markets’, its senior advisors include Chalker, Lord Lamont (British-Iranian Chamber of Commerce, Benador Associates Chairman of Le Cercle), Lord Denman (Consolidated Goldfields and The Research Institute for the Study of Conflict and Terrorism) (see notes) and Andrew Buxton the former chairman of Barclays Bank.
Since 1988 MerchantBridge has been the advisor to British Government of the ‘‘Offset Programme” which is a supposed £1 billion economic investment agreement in Saudi Arabia as part of the notorious Al Yamamah (‘the Dove’) arms deal. When asked by Lord Judd as to “What arrangements they now have in place to ensure that their overseas programme is never directly or indirectly related to arms deals.” Chalker replied:
“Consistent with the Overseas Development and Co-operation Act 1980, the primary purpose of all development assistance budget spending is developmental. All projects must pass the usual tests of developmental soundness. Arms deals never have any connection, direct or indirect, with the provision of British development assistance.”
The company say they provide “Knowledge and access to key decision makers in Washington and Iraq.” The London office is run by Basil Al-Rahim the former Managing Director of The Carlyle Group which, like MerchantBridge is the gatekeeper to foreign investing in Saudi Arabia through the Saudi Economic Offset Program.
“Carlyle had a relationship with the bin Ladens that began in the early 1990s, when they tried to put together a deal for the Italian Petroleum (IP) company. At the time, Basil Al Rahim, a young Carlyle associate, was travelling from Saudi Arabia to Amman to Bahrain, to United Arab Emirates, drumming up support for Carlyle’s forthcoming international funds. One of the clients that Al Rahim helped secure was the bin Laden family, which owned a $5 billion construction business by the name of Saudi Binladin Group.”
In this small world of global do gooders co-incidences abound, there are quite a few here: MerchantBridge was recently appointed Lead Advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Industry and Minerals for their Lease of Industrial Factories Programme, and has has launched an ‘Iraq Construction Materials Fund’ to capitalise on this.
“The first tranche of US$20 million has been raised from cross-border investors for a new US$ 50 million, 5-year, direct investment fund to finance manufacturers and suppliers of construction materials in Iraq. The fund will invest in sub-sectors where strong demand is expected but supplies are limited or uneconomical to import. Four such projects have been launched immediately: Ready Mixed Concrete, Industrial Paint & Coatings, Engineered Steel Structures & Fabrication, and Plastic Pipes.”
Chalker is a member of the international advisory board of Lafarge et Cie — following the acquisition of Blue Circle, Lafarge became the world’s leading cement producer.
Chalker is also a non-executive director of Group 5 (Pty) Ltd. (Group 5 is a South African-based infrastructural company, specialising in construction and engineering projects as well as materials manufacturing), DCI Limited, Landell Mills Limited and the British Executive Service Overseas
She is president of Transparency International in the United Kingdom, the Intermediate Technology Development Group, The British Consultants and Construction Bureau and an adviser to the World Bank.
== Notes ==
1. Jonah is a non-executive director of Lonmin Plc (previously Lonrho Plc). His yearly salary is £450,000 plus enormous bonuses (private health care, private education of his children, a huge pension, a huge amount of shares and so on — see page 83 ), somewhat higher than the average African. Jonah’s family have a trust which holds a majority interest in Metropolitan, which receives Ashanti’s insurance premium. He was one of the defendants in a consolidated class action under the United States federal securities laws in the U.S. alleging nondisclosures and misstatements concerning the company’s hedging position and program. In order to carry out this hedging, a special purpose vehicle, Geita Management, was been established in the Isle of Man.