What and who we are, our partnerships and our purpose
We were founded by a group of volunteers with experience of issues the extractive industries in Scotland and the rest of the UK; and of governance, transparency, security and commerce in developing economies. We help co-ordinate and advise, where appropriate, civil society bodies and in this way to further the economic rights of communities who may benefit from well-run, efficient and transparent extractive industries.
Our approach is informed by emerging research patterns and themes. In order for us to provide impartial advice, we no longer nominate our own volunteers as members of official bodies. Instead, we help our associates to make such nominations and help set up structures which ensure the fair representation of civil society, including gender equality and ethnic diversity. At present, for example, we are a civil society nominating authority to the UK Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) multi-stakeholder group.
Our volunteers include people who help organise communities affected by the extractive industries, active trades unionists and students. Our central principles are that genuine civil society representation must extend from the lived experience of people in their own communities, and must have appropriate gender and BAME balance. We recognise the importance of London and Washington based international corporate NGOs, but believe that authentic civil society representation cannot come through paid staff in distant capitals following policy set by unaccountable NGO owners and boards.
In the UK, we are a not-for-profit civil society organisation under the definition and terms of the UNDP and the UN DPI. We work in partnership with other bodies; governments, industry groups and NGOs. We have helped a number of civil society organisations abroad co-ordinate their own representation on similar bodies.
We also provide other advice to civil society organisations abroad. The UK is of course a world leader in the fields of both international investment and development. Aid has an important, stop-gap, role to play where countries lack the capacity to provide the most basic services for their people. Carefully-structured sovereign debt cancellation, too, can help move the poorest countries on to a better economic footing. However, we believe it is the assertion of their own economic rights which will bring developing states fully into the first world. We believe solid, commercial, inward investment, coupled with appropriate transparency measures, is the way the ‘bottom billion’ will close the gap on the rest of the world.
Public dialogue and iniatives around developing countries such as those in Africa are often dominated by matters of aid and debt cancellation, and by ‘northern’ imperatives which are primarily responses to demand in developed economies rather than an attempt to put people in developing economies front and centre.
We seek to help shift debate and action towards issues of good governance, investment and the rule of law. We advocate across the media and politics for the economic rights of developing states, and we do this by working closely with civil society alliances.
Eddie Holmes leads in Scotland and is based in Dundee. He is a former civil servant and has completed a Masters programme at Dundee Universities Centre for Energy, Petroleum, and Mineral Law and Policy. Martin Brown, formerly also of Dundee, leads in the South of England. Martin has worked on African policy and security in the UK Parliament and has completed the MA programme at the University of Sussex’s Centre for the Study of Corruption. In London, Danielle Foe, has strong links with the Cameroon and experience of government affairs in the UK. Eric Joyce, like Martin and Danielle has worked on transparency and African development issues in the UK parliament before helping found EICS.
EICS is registered as a not-for-profit in the UK in order to comply with normal UN recognised requirements. Our volunteers are based across the UK; many are presently undergraduates and postgraduates. At present, we are self-funded and do not rely on external funding of any sort.
We are presently conducting a review of our governance arrangements which is designed to take into account our relationships with partner CSOs in developing states. We will shortly appoint a small number of new directors.