Oxfam International describes itself as “a confederation of 12 organizations working together in more than 100 countries to find lasting solutions to poverty, suffering, and injustice.” “We seek to help people organize so that they might gain better access to the opportunities they need to improve their livelihoods and govern their own lives,” says Oxfam. “We also work with people affected by humanitarian disasters, with preventive measures, preparedness, as well as emergency relief.” Oxfam is active in 26 countries representing seven major geographic regions: the United States; Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean; South America; West Africa; the Horn of Africa; Southern Africa; and East Asia.
Oxfam lists the following as the major issues on which it focuses:
Making a Living: “Working largely with rural communities, Oxfam helps people understand their rights, build skills and assets, and find new ways of working—to move beyond poverty towards greater security.”
Natural Resources: “With powerful interests vying for some of the world’s most valuable commodities, many natural resources are being polluted or dangerously depleted. Oxfam empowers farmers, fishers, and others to defend their right to life-sustaining resources.”
Peace & Security: “Oxfam helps communities analyze the root causes of conflict and find creative ways to build peace.”
Equality of Women: “About 70 percent of the 1.2 billion people who live in extreme poverty are women and girls. Oxfam … promotes investments in women as an investment in families and communities.”
Indigenous & Minority Rights: “Diversity should be a social asset, but in many places there is little respect for indigenous people and minorities. Oxfam specializes in strengthening organizations to overcome racism and discrimination.”
Trade: “World trade could be a powerful force for reducing poverty, if poor people could sell their products at a decent price. Oxfam and our partners are joining together to ensure international trade provisions benefit all people.”
Operating with an annual budget of over $300 million, Oxfam regularly issues political condemnations of Israel while remaining silent about Palestinian-perpetrated human rights abuses and acts of terror. The British branch of Oxfam denounces also Israel’s security policies against terror attacks. Oxfam Belgium recently produced a poster, in both Flemish and French, calling on Belgian consumers to boycott Israeli products; the poster declared that “Israeli fruits have a bitter taste,” and depicted blood dripping from an Israeli fruit.
Oxfam International was a signatory to a 1999 petition of so-called “civil society” organizations that opposed globalization, big business in general, and “any effort to expand the powers of the World Trade Organization (WTO) through a new comprehensive round of trade liberalization.” A notable cosigner of this petition was Global Exchange Director Medea Benjamin, who was a chief organizing force behind the November 1999 riots in Seattle, where some 50,000 protesters destroyed millions of dollars worth of property in their effort to shut down the WTO Conference in that city. Oxfam also endorsed a recent “Our World is Not for Sale” campaign similarly condemning the WTO.
Oxfam America was a signatory to a November 1, 2001 document characterizing the 9/11 attacks as a legal matter to be addressed in courtrooms rather than by military means. Ascribing the hijackers’ rage to alleged American injustices against which they sought to strike a blow, this document explained that “security and justice are mutually reinforcing goals that ultimately depend upon the promotion of all human rights for all people,” and called on the United States “to promote fundamental rights around the world.”
Oxfam International is a member of OneWorld Network, an umbrella organization of more than 1,500 leftist groups that, according to the OneWorld website, seek “to promote sustainable development, social justice, and human rights.”
In 2009, Oxfam International participated in producing a multi-NGO publication titled Failing Gaza: No Rebuilding, No Recovery, No More Excuses. This booklet falsely accused Israel of “occupying” Gaza and subjecting the Palestinian people to an “illegal and inhumane blockade” that amounted to “collective punishment.” It also stated that Operation Cast Lead—a defensive military operation in which Israel had targeted Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorists who were firing rockets and mortars at civilian communities in southern Israel—had “left a legacy of destruction and loss” in the now “shattered society” of Gaza. Other contributors to Failing Gaza included such groups as Amnesty International UK, Christian Aid, Medical Aid for Palestinians, and Mercy Corps.
On January 22, 2018, Oxfam’s official Twitter feed stated: “At the moment we have an extreme form of capitalism that only works for those at the top. That is why we are calling for governments to manage our economies so that they work for everyone and not just the fortunate few.” Afdter a number of economists subsequently criticized Oxfam’s remarks, the organization tweeted another message that read: “We recognise the key role that business plays in reducing global poverty but too often our economies are built to reward wealth rather than hard work. That is holding back the fight against poverty. In this shortened tweet we didn’t express this as clearly as we would have liked.”
In February 2018, Oxfam admitted the veracity of recent reports alleging that in the aftermath of a major 2010 earthquakea in Haiti, a number of Oxfam employees in that country had hosted “Caligula”-style sex parties involving Haitian prostitutes.
Oxfam has received funding from: the AT&T Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation; the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Minneapolis Foundation, the Public Welfare Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Rockefeller Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and many others.
This profile is adapted, with permission, from the NGO Monitor.