Civil society participation is key to successful implementation of the EITI. In accordance with EITI Requirement 1.3, civil society needs to be fully, actively and effectively engaged in the EITI process. The relationship between companies, civil society organisations (CSOs) and the government is formalised in the multi-stakeholder group (MSG).
The EITI protocol on the participation of civil society is an integral part of the EITI Standard and further specifies the EITI's interpretation of this provision.
Civil society often plays a key role in advocating for a country to join the EITI. Civil society should be able to nominate its representatives for the EITI MSG freely and to influence the objectives of the EITI process. In 2020, the EITI Board clarified how civil society engagement in the EITI sign-up process is assessed.
In Uganda, which joined the EITI in 2020, civil society undertook advocacy efforts to ensure that the government followed up on its commitment to implement the EITI. A report on civil society’s participation in Uganda’s sign-up process documents how the constituency was organised and nominated members to Uganda’s MSG.
In Ecuador, civil society campaigned for more than eight years for their country to join the EITI. Civil society groups liaised with government decision-makers and international partners on the EITI and organised capacity-building activities. They also participated in peer learning in other EITI countries in the region. Ecuador became an implementing country in 2020.
Participation in the MSG
The MSG decides on the objectives and scope of EITI implementation in each country. Active civil society participation in the MSG’s work is critical for ensuring that these reflect civil society’s views. The annual EITI work plan is an important tool for influencing the scope of EITI disclosures and activities.
Civil society can also propose that the MSG reviews the environment for citizen participation in extractive sector governance. The EITI work plan can include objectives and activities aimed at strengthening engagement, as well as disclosures.
In Mexico, environmental and social disclosures are a priority for the CSOs engaged in the EITI. Through civil society’s active engagement in the MSG’s work, this has been reflected in the scope of the EITI process. The MSG agreed in its 2017-2018 work plan that Mexico’s EITI reporting would include social and environmental information. The MSG has undertaken a scoping study on environmental and social disclosures and has disclosed information beyond the EITI Requirements in its EITI reporting.
In Malawi, civil society’s advocacy led to the publication of oil, gas and mining contracts and to the government publicly stating its commitment to address allegations of corruption in the mining sector. CSOs leveraged the MSG to convince government and company representatives of the benefits of contract transparency and to follow up on the government’s commitments.
Use of data and outreach to citizens
Civil society has an important role as intermediaries between the EITI process and citizens. CSOs often translate data into analysis and actionable recommendations for improved extractive sector governance. They also help to ensure that the information reaches citizens affected by extractive activities.
In Indonesia, the Publish What You Pay (PWYP) coalition has built activists’ capacity to use extractive sector data for financial modelling of government revenues.
In Mozambique, Oxfam commissioned an independent forecast of government revenues from a gas project.
In Nigeria, Policy Alert and PWYP UK used EITI data to assess the impact of oil companies’ payments to the Niger Delta Development Commission on the livelihoods of people. Order Paper, a government media organisation, also developed RemTrack, a mobile application which enables citizens to monitor the implementation of the recommendations of the EITI Reports.
In the Dominican Republic, civil society groups engaged in the EITI have shared data on subnational revenue transfers with communities affected by mining and conveyed the communities’ concerns to the MSG.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, local civil society groups demanded that the MSG discuss reports by international CSOs regarding the management of extractive revenues by state-owned enterprises. The MSG agreed to establish a special committee to investigate the issue and make recommendations. In 2018, the MSG produced a special report, which addressed gaps in SOE reporting. A study published by ITIE-RDC in 2020 further examined financial statements of state-owned enterprises.
Building a diverse and inclusive civil society constituency
Civil society members of the MSG are accountable to the broader civil society constituency. Building a strong and diverse constituency can make civil society participation in the EITI more effective and ensure that a wide range of different views are heard.
In Guyana, indigenous peoples have a designated seat on the MSG. Local civil society groups have undertaken EITI outreach activities in indigenous communities affected by mining. As a result, the communities are now monitoring water quality in local rivers.
In the Philippines, civil society coalition Bantay Kita includes members from across the country. Bantay Kita regularly organises workshops and other events virtually and in mining regions. Civil society MSG members represent different regions of the country.
Governments should safeguard an enabling environment for civil society engagement in the EITI in accordance with the EITI Protocol: Participation of civil society. They can also leverage civil society participation in the EITI process to canvass views on extractive sector governance and planned reforms.
Governments can also facilitate civil society participation in the EITI by providing capacity-building and resources. This could include covering travel costs to attend MSG meetings. Stakeholders should consider any risks related to the independence of civil society participation if civil society receives support from the government. Governments should be careful not to interfere in civil society’s process for nominating MSG members or coordination within the constituency, as per EITI Requirement 1.4.
The government should ensure that any rules or practices related to, for example, the registration of non-governmental organisations, access to funding, organising activities or undertaking research do not restrict civil society from undertaking EITI-related activities. Addressing challenges related to the enabling environment sometimes requires coordination with government agencies that are not involved in EITI implementation, such as authorities responsible for internal security.
In the Republic of the Congo, civil society brought concerns related to civic space to the attention of the EITI National Coordinator. This helped to overcome administrative delays and barriers related to holding public events related to the EITI.
In Myanmar, civil society MSG members and the responsible government agency agreed that civil society could undertake EITI-related activities in Kayah state without the permission that was normally required under normal procedures.
In Ethiopia, the MSG agreed in its 2019 work plan to follow up on the approval of a new CSO law and to monitor its implementation.
In Armenia, stakeholders have worked together to develop a roadmap for responsible mining. In Ukraine, civil society has through the EITI process contributed to extractive sector reforms, including beneficial ownership transparency.
Oil, gas and mining companies can support civil society’s participation in the EITI. Where there are challenges related to the enabling environment for civil society engagement, companies can facilitate addressing these at the multi-stakeholder group. Sometimes civil society’s concerns are related to the operations of a specific extractive company or the government’s approach to them. The MSG can provide a platform for constructive dialogue between stakeholders.
Companies can strengthen trust and their social license to operate by openly sharing information about their activities and plans with civil society engaged in the EITI.
Many extractive companies have made commitments related to respecting human rights, for example, through the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and The Business Case for Protecting Civic Rights. Implementation of these principles involves mapping, disclosing and mitigating human rights risks in the company’s operations.
In some cases, companies engaged in the EITI may be able to use their influence to encourage the government to safeguard space for civil society participation in the EITI. The Business Network on Civic Freedoms and Human Rights Defenders provides guidance on supporting civil society and human rights defenders.
Validation assesses a country’s progress in implementing the EITI Standard, including adherence to the civil society protocol. The 2021 Validation Guide includes a framework for assessing Requirement 1.3 on civil society engagement.
The 2021 Validation procedure includes a public call for stakeholder views, which is launched ahead of Validation. It is an opportunity for any stakeholder to share views related to civil society engagement before Validation starts.
There are two reasons why Validation may conclude that a country has not fully met EITI Requirement 1.3 on civil society engagement: (1) weaknesses in the capacity, coordination, engagement or representation of civil society, and (2) breaches of the civil society protocol.
For a review of Validations of Requirement 1.3 in 2016-2020, see section 3.3 of Board paper 46-6-B: Update on the review of Validation.
- Publish What You Pay (2018), EITI Guide: Leveraging the EITI for reform in oil, gas and mining governance.
- NRGI (2019), EITI Mainstreaming: Opportunities and Risks for the Role of Civil Society in EITI.
- EITI (2020), Empowering communities in EITI implementing countries to participate in the oversight of the extractive sector.
- Publish What You Pay (2016), “EITI Civil Society Infographic: Protecting Civic Space”.
- CIVICUS (2017), Civic space under threat in EITI countries.
- Publish What You Pay (2019), PWYP members’ experiences of closing civic space.
- United Nations Human Rights Council (2015), Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.
- CIVICUS, “Monitor: Tracking civic space”.
- Freedom House, “Freedom in the World”.
- International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, “Civic Freedom Monitor”.
- MSI Integrity (2015), Protecting the Cornerstone: Assessing the Governance of EITI Multi-Stakeholder Groups.