I think it appropriate to share this statement from Publish What You Pay, with whom I have had a long association. The statement provides a shocking indictment of UK government attitudes to civil society, good governnance, engagement and transparency:
The UK EITI Civil Society Network (CSN) regretfully announces its withdrawal from engagement with the UK EITI.
The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is an international standard for openness around the management of revenues from natural resources. It is designed to improve accountability and public trust for the revenues paid and received for a country’s oil, gas and mineral resources.
We oppose the UK Government’s unilateral decision on 26 September 2017 to give one organisation, Extractive Industries Civil Society (EICS), authority over certain civil society nominations to the UK EITI Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG). This decision contravenes sections 1.3 and 1.4 of the EITI Standard and is a breach of civil society’s right to determine its own representatives independently.
The CSN, which represents broad and mainstream civil society engagement with the UK EITI, a number of whose member organisations were instrumental in the establishment of the EITI internationally in 2003, has an agreed and published process for filling civil society MSG places, which was adopted by consensus.
In July 2017 we wrote to Margot James MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility, who is the UK’s EITI Champion, expressing our concern at one organisation’s control of half of the civil society MSG seats and calling for a democratic, fair and transparent process for civil society selection.
In a further effort to find a solution in September 2017, and following consultation with government officials at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the CSN agreed to amend its Membership Principles to make reference to diversity and local UK communities affected by the extractive industries. The CSN also invited EICS to apply to join the CSN, which it refused to do. We have always sought in good faith to find a solution to the challenges faced on the issue of civil society representation.
The decision to give special status to one civil society organisation over its peers goes against the EITI’s founding principles. We withdraw from the process with immediate effect.
Full member organisations of the CSN:
- Article 19
- Christian Aid
- Global Witness
- Green Alliance
- Natural Resource Governance Institute
- Oxfam GB
- Publish What You Pay UK
- Transparency International UK
The network also has more than 20 individual associate members, mostly affiliated to non-governmental organisations or academic institutions.