The following case study is an example of good practices that were observed and detailed in Protecting the Cornerstone: Assessing the Governance of Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Multi-Stakeholder Groups, published in February 2015.
This case study describes good practices in civil society liaising and outreach that were observed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This case is in Box II in Annex II of the Report (on page 88), which is also available independently as a Guidance Note for Civil Society Participation in the EITI (on page 8).
Good Practices for Civil Society Liaising and Outreach (from “Box II: Democratic Republic of the Congo – Developing good practices in CSO liaising”)
For the first four years implementing EITI, the civil society representatives to the MSG in the DRC did not regularly liaise with their constituents to guide their participation in EITI. Instead, as was common in many of the EITI countries reviewed, CSO outreach was largely limited to publicizing the release of EITI reports.
The failure to be more inclusive came at a huge cost. Civil society outside the MSG were skeptical of the work of CSO representatives on the MSG, possibly due to unfamiliarity with the concept and collaborative nature of multi-stakeholder governance that requires CSOs to make decisions together with business and government. The release of EITI reports was often met with criticism from other CSOs, who attacked a range of issues such as the scope of the report, the choice of auditor, or concerns about the independence and effectiveness of the CSO representatives on the MSG.
In 2011, to allay these concerns, the CSO MSG representatives began to hold quarterly meetings for their wider constituency. During the two to three day meetings, the CSO representatives focus on:
- Sharing the major issues currently being discussed in the MSG, and receiving a mandate from the wider CSO participants with recommendations for the positions they should adopt regarding these issues;
- Reporting back to the constituency regarding progress in the MSG since the last meeting and whether and how they implemented past recommendations; and,
- Listening to feedback on their performance and how they can improve.
Approximately 30 CSO stakeholders regularly attend the meetings, and funding is available to reimburse travel costs for two people from each of DRC’s ten provinces to attend the meetings in Kinshasa. This ensures that CSOs from across the country – and from areas where extraction takes place – are able to attend and benefit from the trainings and capacity building exercises that often supplement the meetings. Decisions at these meetings are made by consensus. While there are often disagreements and long discussions, the process has ultimately led to greater legitimacy for CSO participation in EITI, as well as more strategic decision-making and outcomes from a CSO perspective at the MSG. For example, two CSO MSG representatives were replaced with candidates that were seen as more suitable and effective by civil society overall, and recently a code of conduct was drafted for CSO representatives.
There are still possibilities for improvement in this process, such as rotating meetings so that they are held in regions with the greatest extractive activities or establishing systems to ensure all funded attendees are required, in turn, to liaise with their networks or constituents both before and after the meetings to ensure community perspectives are obtained and outcomes are relayed. However, the underlying principles of this process should be utilized by civil society in other countries, for example by asking regional CSOs to seek feedback from their regions on the same issues as is done in the DRC, and then to relay this by phone or email to CSO MSG representatives.