Although the rules of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) include safeguards to protect civil society’s meaningful participation in the initiative, in many EITI-implementing countries, natural resource governance activists continue to risk persecution, intimidation, and harassment for their EITI-related work. At present, many advocates lack robust mechanisms to report and respond to these breaches.
On August 16 and 17, 2016, MSI Integrity convened the “EITI Accountability Mechanisms Design Workshop” in Barcelona, Spain. The workshop aimed to address the absence of safe and reliable mechanisms for civil society stakeholders to raise concerns about breaches of the EITI Standard, and brought together leading human rights and accountability mechanism experts, civil society representatives from the EITI International Board, and natural resource governance advocates from EITI countries.
MSI Integrity’s report, EITI Accountability and Grievance Mechanisms: Perspectives from Civil Society and Natural Resource Governance Advocates, details discussions from the workshop, which culminated in design sessions to develop proposals for how EITI could close accountability gaps. Over the course of the two-day workshop, participants reported that:
- Threats to individuals and civic space are not being comprehensively detected by the EITI validation system, while the initiative lacks trusted processes for raising civic space-related complaints;
- EITI Board committees, such as the Rapid Response Committee, are underutilized and largely unknown outside of the EITI Board, and are not seen as effective tools for addressing either time-sensitive breaches of the EITI Standard or threats to civil society;
- Any new or reformed grievance or accountability mechanism should be designed to ensure that complainants are not exposed to further risk, while enabling and empowering stakeholders to raise concerns with EITI; and
- Any new or reformed processes must draw on good practice and lessons learned from other initiatives, which are presented in summarized form in the report.
Notably, some participants favored modifying existing EITI processes such as the Rapid Response Committee and improving the validation process to address accountability gaps, while others in the group believed these processes, by themselves, could not be sufficient to address harms experienced by individuals. As a result of these workshop discussions, participants agreed upon three mutually-reinforcing proposals for improving EITI’s accountability mechanisms:
- Prevention Mechanism – Establishing a system of national-level civil society monitors who report to a new Working Group on Civil Society Protection. The working group would proactively monitor the condition of civil society in EITI-implementing countries and respond to or provide feedback on in-country developments that threaten civic space and undermine the EITI Civil Society Protocol, which is part of the EITI Standard.
- Reforming Existing Oversight and Outreach Mechanisms – Strengthening existing EITI bodies and processes with a focus on updating the member application and validation processes, as well as the Rapid Response Committee, to better address civil society-specific needs and provide civil society protections.
- Remediation Mechanism – Developing a non-judicial complaints-filing process designed to address stakeholder grievances related to egregious breaches of the Civil Society Protocol such as rights violations resulting from natural resource governance advocacy.
The workshop was facilitated by Shape the Law, with assistance from MSI Integrity and financial support from the Open Society Foundations.
Download the “EITI Accountability and Grievance Mechanisms: Perspectives from Civil Society and Natural Resource Governance Advocates” workshop report here.