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World cup blog tournament - Did you think it was all over? It is now

It may have been slightly contrived, full of puns and spurious associations but our world cup blog tournament was a great success (and for those of us whose tournament ended before it began, a welcome relief).  We posted 15 blogs from 14 countries over the two weeks – from Algeria to Honduras. The most popular piece, with the most likes, was David Garcia and Jana Morgan from PWYP USA with their article on how the USA could yet regain their status as transparency champions! A huge thank you to everyone who participated!

Here’s a quick round-up of our pieces…

How does Ghana manage its oil? A snapshot - Celeste Hicks,  freelance journalist and former BBC correspondent in Chad, writes about her visit to Ghana for the book she is writing about the oil industry in Africa and how to break the resource curse.

Algeria: building a manifesto for a new way - Djilali Hadjadj, President of the Algerian Association Against Corruption and member of PWYP, gives us a quick overview of civil society movements in Algeria and how oil governance in the country can be improved.

Keeping good Kompany in the EU – James Royston, PWYP’s Advocacy Officer, on the next goals for the EU campaign.

The Dark Side of Mining Tax Payments in Honduras - A post from ICEFI’s Hugo Noé Pino, on why mining companies in Honduras need to publish what they pay.

High Noon for the Swiss team – and a red card for the government – Will Switzerland’s transparency law deliver? Swissaid’s Lorenz Kummer isn’t so sure.

How the Aussies can go from zeroes to heroes – PWYP Australia Claire Spoors on how Australia could use EITI and the G20 to become genuine transparency supporters.

Energy reform: Mexico 0 Opacity 1? Aroa de la Fuente, member of the PWYP Global Steering Committee, explains why Mexico’s proposed Hydrocarbons law isn’t scoring points for citizens.

Gas flares, blackouts and the paradox of Nigeria’s energy problems - A cross-post from Open Oil, as Amrit Naresh discusses energy issues in Nigeria.

France: a red card for inconsistency between words and deeds (Areva-Niger match report) When it came to AREVA’s negotiations with Niger, France’s actions didn’t match up to its rhetoric, argues Anne-Sophie Simpere.

The UK: championing a global extractives transparency standard, if not world football - England may have crashed out of the world cup, but the country’s championship of transparency provides at least one source for national pride – Miles Litvinoff, PWYP UK.

Chilean miners rally in support of national team A video for a half-time break

Will Algeria be ready when the final whistle blows on the oil game? Djilali Hadjadj offers his analysis of Algeria's governance of oil.

Will the Netherlands be future champions for extractive transparency? How the Netherlands should up its (transparency) game, Marinke van Riet, International Director PWYP.

The United States must continue to advance transparency in the extractives sector PWYP USA’s David Garcia and Jana Morgan on how the US can regain its championship status.

Is extractive resources management in Cameroon emerging from darkness?  Jaff Bamenjo from PWYP Cameroon on how transparency is fast becoming an accepted norm in the country.

Photo by Graham Smith available on Flickr under a Creative Commons License

In Brief

Find out what our friends over at the Natural Resource Governance Institute have been up to by reading the latest newsletter from their President, Daniel Kaufmann -

"Greetings from Mexico City. I wanted to take a moment amidst the illuminating discussions here following the EITI board meeting to share some of the exciting developments that have taken place since I last wrote to you... continue reading"

Who is buying up Myanmar's oil and gas? Explore Global Witness' fantastic infographic that illustrates how 'few of Myanmar’s recently awarded oil and gas blocks have gone to companies whose real owners are identifiable.'

Updates from the EITI board meeting

It was a long road, but at the recent board meeting DRC was declared a compliant country. Jean-Claude Katende, Coordinator for DRC, gives his view here (in French).

Guinea also became EITI compliant – read PWYP Guinea’s press release (in French).

Myanmar was accepted as a candidate country (see civil society’s statement) while Germany committed to implement the initiative. 

Is Switzerland’s transparency law fit for purpose?

Two weeks ago, the Swiss government released a report outlining its approach to extractive industry transparency. While a transparency law in some form is on the cards, it may not prove particularly effective. Lorenz Kummer from Swiss Aid shares his thoughts.

The Swiss government earned a huge red card when releasing a report on extractive industry transparency. First, however, a tiny little bit of good news: the Federal Council decided to start crafting legislation on payment disclosure for extractive companies similar to the EU Transparency and Accounting Directives. But here’s the bad news: the government decided not to include commodity trading in the upcoming regulation.

This is far from fair play. Remember, Switzerland is certainly a big player when it comes to hosting extractive industry companies. Well known to the public is mining and trading giant GlencoreXstrata, based in Swiss tax haven Zug, causing regular headlines for allegations of tax evasion and severe environmental and human rights problems in countries such as the DRC, Zambia, and Colombia. Less known are trading companies such as Vitol, Trafigura, Mercuria, and Gunvor. They’re all listed in the top ten of Swiss companies. And Vitol alone, the biggest fish in the pond, is sporting an annual turnover of more than 300 billion dollars.

Surprised? This is what happened to most people in Switzerland when Berne Declaration, with input by SWISSAID, both members of PWYP, published its book on the Swiss commodity business in 2011. It revealed that Switzerland has become the biggest global hub for commodity trading, controlling, for example, no less than one third of the global oil trade and bigger shares even for other commodities. Moreover, with the exception of GlencoreXstrata, these companies are privately held and information on their deals and dealings are hard to come by and spotty at best.

Read the rest of the blog online

You can also access the Berne's Declaration press release here

Multi-stakeholder governance - a trio of updates

What does effective multi-stakeholder governance look like in practice?

A lot has been said about the benefits – and drawbacks – of multi-stakeholder governance, but what does it look like in practice? Can we get beyond polysyllabic jargon and acronyms to the realities faced by the various practitioners? MSI Integrity is conducting research on the EITI and ‘the successes and challenges that stakeholders (especially civil society) have experienced both inside and outside of the national EITI multi-stakeholder groups (MSG)’. Visit their site to find out more.  A report will be shared as soon as it is available.

One thing we know about effective multi-stakeholder governance is that civil society needs be united and well-informed in order to be a credible actor that contributes to the successful implementation of EITI. In this case study, PWYP’s EITI Coordinator Asmara Klein, explores how the coalition in DRC managed to improve its participation and strengthen its voice.

What are the challenges and opportunities for Trinidad & Tobago’s civil society participation in the EITI?

PWYP’s International Director Marinke van Riet blogs about her recent visit to Trinidad & Tobago. Extract below, visit our site for the whole blog.

As the director of a network as global as Publish What You Pay I feel privileged to be able to learn about the different experiences civil society lives regarding the extractive sector around the world.

To quickly learn what is happening on the ground I have developed the ‘quick and dirty’ PWYP taxi driver test. The taxi driver who is fortunate – or unfortunate -  enough to drive me from the airport to my hotel gets burdened with two key questions:

1.    What are the natural resources in your country?
2.    And do you see the benefits of these natural resources in your life and direct environment?

These questions may sound obvious and are not rocket science but in my view can serve as a proxy indicator for how transparent a country is in its management of the extractive industry. It gives a rough idea of the debates in countries and of how aware ordinary citizens are of their own natural resources.

Back to Trinidad and Tobago. My friendly taxi driver –driving me into Port of Spain late at night- knew exactly about where oil and gas was extracted - from Mayaro and Point Fortin respectively- and the dependency of the local economy on these resources. (In fact 46% of the government revenues come from the extractive industry). The answer however to the second question was, and I am quoting: ‘oil and gas stay at the top for a few lucky ones.’

To this end implementing the multi-stakeholder EITI can be an appropriate tool…

Read the rest of the blog online.

Azerbaijan, civil society and the enabling environment – practicalities matter

Photo by Matthew Hadley, available on Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

Repression of civil society’s ability to campaign doesn’t always come in the shape of public crackdowns or multiple arrests. Instead other, more covert, ways are used to ensure that civil society cannot operate. For instance, how can activists define a common position and design a strategy if they are unable to meet?

This is the situation our members in Azerbaijan found themselves in. Over the past few months, hotels and business centres have been refusing to do business with NGOs, particularly with those from the coalition. Keen to assemble to exchange and plan their future campaign, as well as celebrate the ten year anniversary of their coalition, the coalition has found itself unable to secure a meeting place – despite contacting a range of hotels. These difficulties notwithstanding, the coalition did eventually secure a reservation with the Radisson – only to have the hotel pull out at the last minute. An added difficulty is that, in order to receive funds from donors, NGOs need to obtain special permission – via an intensively bureaucratic route – from the Ministry of Justice.

These worrying developments follow the adoption last February of a series of laws severely restricting civil society’s ability to operate. We haven’t even touched here on the intimidations activists have been subject to. The question of Azerbaijan’s enabling environment was raised at last week’s EITI board meeting, and the Board agreed to send a fact-finding mission to the country. We’ll continue to bring you updates on the situation in Azerbaijan.