UK EITI Multi-stakeholder group (MSG)
The UK EITI multi-stakeholder group (MSG) oversees the UK’s membership of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). EICS recently agreed to be one of two ‘nominating authorities’ in respect of civil society members of the MSG. This is to ensure that civil society representation is fair and proper. It is only an interim arrangement but it ensures the excellent work done by all participants in the UK EITI MSG, including by the UK and Scottish governments, is recognised and maintained.
Outside of the UK MSG most people do not know that a network of powerful international NGOs, led and funded by Global Witness and Publish What You Pay has collaborated to keep control of the process of nominating members to the MSG- to press home their own narrow policy imperatives. Community groups in the UK recognise their ‘right to be heard’, but no one wants an MSG with only white, male staff from London-based NGOs, which have no locus at all in community groups affected by the extractive industries.
EICS in community groups proposed that a single civil society body should be used to nominate members, but it must be guaranteed that not all the nominees would be, as has been before, career staff members of large transnational NGOs. We believe nominees must include genuine representatives of workers, and include women and BAME representation. This simple idea was refused by experts, representatives and consultants from Global Witness and Publish What You Pay. PWYP/GW have refused government advice and boycotted the process. Only PWYP members have withdrawn, other UK based NGOs will be offered places on the MSG by the UK EITI secretariat shortly. Most importantly we should note that the UK EITI Secretariat has advised PWYP/GW that their withdrawal will not affect the UK’s validation process one bit. The UK is due to undergo an assessment for compliance with the requirements of the EITI Standard in 2018.
After a proposal from the UK government, which provides the chair and secretariat of the MSG, members agreed that both EICS and Global Witness/Publish What You Pay (as Civil Society Network) will serve as nominating authorities. EICS will serve to administer the nominations only. Nominations from EICS will come from amongst community organisations and workers’ representatives, and will include women and BAME nominees. These nominations will be for one year in the first instance. New nominees, and EICS if required, will work with the MSG towards establishing a transparent and representative nominating authority. EICS will not extend it’s remit beyond this.
We also believe that NGOs should not be exempt from high standards of transparency in how they operate and what they do. Global Witness is wholly controlled by it’s 3 founders, and has operated without any other board members for almost its whole existence. Publish What You Pay is a former GW campaign. As worthwhile as it was, it was repurposed into a not-for-profit to control civil society groups in different countries through the EITI. It is shocking to see all nominees by Global Witness and PWYP to the MSG have to date been male, white and none have been active in local community groups in areas affected by extractives industries.
The Publish What You Pay (UK) co-ordinator is a former Green Party candidate who has campaigned against the oil/gas/mining industries which are the subject of the EITI. Global Witness has appointed from Greenpeace an official to attack EICS in the media. EICS respects Global Witness and PWYP’s right to campaign against fossil fuels, but not to seek to be the only voices for civil society across the UK which has diverse communities. We take a neutral position on fossil fuels, but recognise that the purpose of the EITI is to help nations and communities benefit from transparent extractive industries and that thousands of jobs in the UK are dependent upon them.
Martin Brown Anti-corruption and Transparency Adviser EICS