Validation Committee teleconference, 18 September 2019
Validation Committee teleconference, Wednesday 18 September 2019, 15:00-16:30 CEST
- Confirmation of agenda, including observers and recusal
- Second Validation of Iraq (for decision)
- Second Validation of Mozambique (for decision)
- Validation of Myanmar (for discussion)
- Validation of the Dominican Republic (for discussion)
Attendance: Agnès Solange Ondigui Owona, Sonia Le Bris, Timo Voipio, Mariya Lobacheva, Cielo Magno, Brice Mackosso, Cesar Gamboa, Simon Taylor, Carlos Aranda.
Observers: John Brayman (Government of Canada), Elena Drakos (Government of Finland), Moustapha Fall (Senegal EITI).
From the International Secretariat: Lyydia Kilpi, Sam Bartlett, Alex Gordy, Gay Ordenes, Annie Magnus, Pablo Valverde, Francisco Paris, Anna Herbert de la Portbarré, Ines Marques, Mark Robinson.
1. Confirmation of agenda, including observers and recusal.
It was noted that the meeting was quorate. There were no objections to the proposed agenda.
2. Second Validation of Iraq (for decision)
Alex Gordy introduced the case, noting the Secretariat’s response in writing to comments from Committee members on the 26 August teleconference. The Secretariat considered that the conflict between civil society and the national coordinator centred on the ongoing development of the Iraq EITI work plan and was already taken into account in the Secretariat’s assessment of “meaningful progress” on MSG oversight (Requirement 1.4).
Sonia Le Bris expressed concerns over the conflict and asked whether Requirement 1.3 on civil society engagement should be downgraded to “meaningful progress”. Alex clarified that the Secretariat’s assessment had found that the broader civil society constituency appeared fully, actively and effectively engaged in all aspects of EITI implementation and that weaknesses in the MSG’s functioning and relations with the national secretariat were considered under Requirement 1.4. The MSG had met on 17 September to discuss the work plan and constituted a sub-committee to discuss concerns and finalise the work plan. The sub-committee was chaired by civil society and included all civil society members of the MSG.
Cielo Magno supported the Secretariat’s assessment of ”meaningful progress” on Requirement 1.4 but called for reprimand of the national coordinator in the Board’s decision. Alex noted that Board statements did not usually name individuals and highlighted that the International Secretariat was already following up with the national coordinator.
Agnès Solange Ondigui Owona called for the inclusion of recommendations for all three constituencies in Board decisions on all Validations and highlighted civil society’s key role in dissemination and outreach.
Brice Mackosso expressed concern about the high number of outstanding corrective actions for countries undergoing second Validations, such as Iraq and Mozambique, and called for greater technical assistance from the International Secretariat. Carlos Aranda supported Brice’s concerns over countries struggling to meet the 2016 Standard amid the transition to the 2019 Standard. Simon Taylor noted the importance of not lowering the EITI’s expectations even in the face of challenges. He considered that the number of corrective actions was not surprising for a country facing exceptional circumstances like Iraq.
Carlos noted the importance of recognising countries’ efforts to address corrective actions particularly in exceptional circumstances, albeit without weakening the Standard. Alex noted that the proposed Board statement included recognition of Iraq’s exceptional circumstances and that Article 4.b of Chapter 4 of the 2019 Standard (unchanged from Requirement 8.6 of the 2016 Standard) provided the Board with the discretion to consider non-technical factors such as state fragility in agreeing overall assessments of progress.
The Validation Committee agreed to submit the recommendation in VC Paper 06-1 on the second Validation of Iraq to the Board for decision in Addis Ababa.
- The Validation Committee to submit the recommendation in VC Paper 06-1 on the second Validation of Iraq to the Board for decision in Addis Ababa.
3. Second Validation of Mozambique (for decision)
Lyydia Kilpi introduced the case, noting that the Secretariat had responded to Mariya Lobacheva’s question regarding the assessment of Requirement 1.4 via email. As the challenges related to communications between industry MSG members and their broader constituency were directly linked to one constituency, the established practice was to reflect this in the assessment of Requirement 1.2 (industry engagement), rather than 1.4 (MSG oversight). This placed the onus of addressing the corrective action on the constituency that was responsible, with amendments to the draft Board statement to encourage strengthened industry engagement.
The Validation Committee agreed to submit the recommendation in VC Paper 06-2 on the second Validation of Mozambique to the Board for decision in Addis Ababa.
- The Validation Committee to submit the recommendation in VC Paper 06-2 on the second Validation of Mozambique to the Board for decision in Addis Ababa.
4. Validation of Myanmar (for discussion)
Gay Ordenes introduced the case, noting key milestones since Myanmar’s Validation began on 1 July 2018. The Committee was briefed on the developments since the Board had reviewed the case in Paris, including a third letter from the civil society coalition MATA (Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability), a letter to the International Secretariat from the International Center for Not-for Profit Law (ICNL) and an implementation support mission to Myanmar by the International Secretariat on 12-16 August 2019 led by Executive Director Mark Robinson.
Sam Bartlett highlighted the mission’s importance in addressing misconceptions about where Myanmar stood in the Validation process. He noted the general interest from all stakeholders to conclude Validation as soon as possible and the broad agreement on the pertinence of likely corrective actions. The Committee was invited to consider whether to mandate the International Secretariat to update the recommendation on Myanmar in light of all available evidence.
Several civil society Committee members congratulated the Secretariat’s initiative in undertaking the mission to Myanmar, inviting it to provide a briefing in writing on the mission. Reiterating civil society’s position that Requirement 1.3 be assessed as “meaningful progress”, Cielo considered that Myanmar demonstrated the need for different approaches to assessing civic space in countries with weak democratic traditions.
Carlos asked whether the MSG was made aware of the third MATA letter. Awa Marie Coll-Seck asked whether the content of the third letter was handled during the mission to Myanmar.
Mark Robinson noted that the purpose of the visit was to provide support and input to the MSG and government on where Myanmar stood in the process and to highlight the likely corrective actions from Validation. Mark noted that the Secretariat would share a more detailed report from the mission. Brice welcomed the report but expressed concern that the Secretariat had not concluded an action plan with the government to deal with civil society’s concerns. Mark clarified that the mission was not on a mandate from the Validation Committee to investigate claims, but that it had carefully discussed the detail of the third MATA letter with civil society in Myanmar.
The Validation Committee mandated the Secretariat to update the recommendation on the Validation of Myanmar in VC Paper 79-3, on the basis of all available evidence, for discussion at the Committee’s 30 September teleconference.
- The International Secretariat to update the recommendation on the Validation of Myanmar in VC Paper 79-3, on the basis of all available evidence, for discussion at the Committee’s 30 September teleconference.
- The Validation Committee to consider the updated recommendation on the Validation of Myanmar at its 30 September teleconference.
5. Validation of the Dominican Republic (for discussion)
Lyydia introduced the case, recalling the short timeframe in which the MSG had submitted its comments on the draft Validation report ahead of the Board meeting in Paris. The MSG had disclosed new information that directly addressed the three corrective actions identified in the Validation report, which had led the Secretariat to recommend an overall assessment of ‘satisfactory progress’. The Committee was briefed on the two letters from civil society in June and August 2019, noting their lack of support for the MSG’s comments on the Validation report and allegations of breaches of the civil society protocol (Requirement 1.3). In order to ensure that the MSG discussed the Validation report and civil society’s comments comprehensively, the Committee was invited to consider whether to re-open the period for MSG comments on the Validation report.
Cesar Gamboa noted that the lack of MSG consensus highlighted by the civil society letters reflected challenges in MSG governance. He called for the International Secretariat to better communicate the Board’s criteria for considering new information after the start of Validation. He considered that cases like the Dominican Republic highlighted the need for the Board to re-examine its interpretation of linkage to the EITI in the application of the civil society protocol. Cesar supported reopening the period for MSG comments on the Validation report.
Sonia supported reopening the period for comments and noted the importance of reinstating trust within the MSG. She called for the Secretariat to emphasise the need for a common set of comments from the MSG. Carlos asked whether all stakeholders would be invited to comment, or whether these comments would be consolidated by the MSG. Lyydia noted the expectation that the MSG would agree set of comments on disclosure requirements. It was not expected that the MSG would agree a common set of comments on Requirement 1.3, but the Committee could consider either new comments from the constituency or the ones already contained in the two letters received to date.
Carlos considered that civil society could channel its comments through its representation on the MSG. Cesar agreed that the MSG should be invited to submit final comments but noted that civil society should have the option of writing directly to the Committee if its concerns were not adequately reflected in the MSG’s comments. Awa Marie considered that the role of the MSG in providing comments should be reinforced and noted that considering comments from specific stakeholders in certain cases ran the risk of accusations of differential treatment of countries. Brice expressed concern that the voices of civil society could be disenfranchised on the MSG and called for all stakeholders’ comments to be taken into account.
The Validation Committee mandated the Secretariat to reopen the period for MSG comments on the Validation report of the Dominican Republic. The Committee mandated the Secretariat to update the recommendation on the Validation of the Dominican Republic in VC Paper 06-4, on the basis of the MSG’s comments, for discussion at a future Committee meeting.
- The International Secretariat to reopen a single additional period for MSG comments on the Validation report of the Dominican Republic.
- The International Secretariat to update the recommendation on the Validation of the Dominican Republic in VC Paper 06-4, on the basis of the MSG’s comments, for discussion at a future Committee meeting.
The Committee agreed a supplementary teleconference on Monday 30 September at 15:00-16:30 CEST to process a number of country cases including Myanmar.
The Committee took note of its next meeting on Wednesday 25 September at 15:00-16:30 CEST.
There was no other business.