With the EITI Board’s decision in Brazzaville, the transition from the 2011 Rules to the 2013 Standard is complete.
At its meeting in Brazzaville on 15 April 2015, the EITI Board decided that Afghanistan should join the remaining 47 EITI countries that are already implementing the EITI Standard. As EITI Technical Director Sam Bartlett pointed out following the Board meeting, “The Board’s decision marks the final transition from the basic framework of the 2011 Rules to the more comprehensive 2013 Standard. From now on all countries that implement the EITI have to prove compliance with the Standard, which extends countries’ disclosure requirements beyond the reconciliation of revenues to cover large parts of the extractive value chain.”
The decision to transition Afghanistan to the Standard without first demonstrating compliance with the Rules was never going to be easy, and Board members discussed the implications of the decision in detail. In 2013 the EITI’s quality assurance mechanism, known as Validation, showed that Afghanistan was unable to prove compliance with the 2011 EITI Rules. A second assessment, in October 2014, confirmed that Afghanistan continues to struggle to make progress against the remedial actions that the Board had set to address the challenges identified under Validation. As suspending Afghanistan for failing this second review would have maintained them as the only country still implementing the EITI Rules for at least another year, the Board concluded in the end that they should instead be required to implement the more demanding EITI Standard and be given time to do so.
The Board’s decision means that Afghanistan will remain a candidate country until it can demonstrate compliance with the Standard in 18 months’ time. Experience from other countries shows that this will be challenging, and Afghanistan will need to translate the strong political commitment that President Ashraf Ghani conveyed to the EITI Chair Clare Short in December into concrete actions. Board members noted this strong commitment and recognized that Afghanistan will need time and support in order to develop the necessary systems and procedures.
Successful implementation of the Standard could have important benefits for Afghanistan and help the government carry out its ambitious reform agenda. Experience from around the world shows that countries can use the EITI process to curb illegal mining, to set up and maintain an up-to-date mining cadaster or to increase the revenue base from the industry, all of which are government priorities for the sector.