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Publish What You Pay 

Email Update March 22nd 2012



Unearth the Truth

Every second, Africa loses £3000 to corruption. Take three minutes to help end this and sign a petition asking your MEP to support strong transparency rules for European listed oil, gas and mining companies.

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Copyright: Jay Butcher/Tearfund

Citizens lobby their MEPs for transparency

On 20 March Publish What You Pay member Tearfund, with Micah Challenge International, brought 30 campaigners from five European countries over to Brussels to lobby for strong transparency rules at the EU level for extractive companies. It was a fantastic couple of days, from the early start in St Pancras on the Tuesday to the manic (for some) rush for the Eurostar back home the next day. Some campaigners were waiting for us in Brussels while others had travelled over from Portugal, Germany and France. (The Portuguese campaigners even managed to quickly lobby their MEP when they happened to bump into him at the airport!) This was the first chance for members of the public to voice their opinion to their representatives on this issue in Brussels, an opportunity they seized with gusto. Campaigners met with their MEPs over the two days to discuss the recent proposed revisions to the Transparency and Accounting Directives.

The energy and dedication of the volunteers who came to lobby their MEPs was remarkable and it is fantastic that this issue has grabbed the imaginations of so many. The trip reflected the fact that this campaign is not limited to the NGO world but has the genuine and strong support of the public. Indeed, MEP Fiona Hall remarked that she had never received so many emails and letters on legislation until now!

ONE and Tearfund had also organised a development briefing for MEPs on the morning of Wednesday 21 March, with opening remarks from MEP Birgit Schnieber-Jastram and with Bishop Stephen Munga from Tanzania as a special guest. Bishop Stephen Munga, who also works on this issue in Tanzania, spoke about corruption in Tanzania and the ways these European laws will help citizens fully benefit from their natural resources.  Close to 15 MEPs and assistants attended the event, indeed it was so popular that the event was standing room only! 

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Copyright: Jay Butcher/Tearfund

... and petition the Danish Presidency


Tearfund and Micah Challenge Initiative folks were also there to hand in a petition to the Danish permanent representation, who currently hold the presidency of the EU.  Signed by more than 10,000 people from 22 member states, the petition calls on the Danish presidency of the EU to swiftly adopt the rules proposed last October, ensuring that they remain robust, with no exemptions and a strong project level definition. A delegation of six civil society representatives also met with the spokesperson of the Danish permanent representation Mr. Jakob Alivi and with Mette Grollem to deliver a letter from civil society organisations in Tanzania in support of these disclosure rules.

Just before the hand-in, European activists – accompanied by Len the Legoman – gathered for a photo outside the building.

Photos and updates were posted throughout these two days on twitter; using the hashtag lovetruth. You can visit Tearfund’s facebook page for more photos, and watch out for upcoming videos of the trip!

The Trust Law blog has posted an interview with Bishop Stephen Munga.

PWYP Africa adopts protection mechanism

Since the beginning of the PWYP campaign, activists have found themselves under threat for their work on transparency and accountability.  In Equatorial Guinea PWYP campaigner Marcial Abaga Barril was arrested last November and detained on trumped up charges of having murdered the President’s cook.  Two months previously, in September, PWYP members were arrested in the Central African Republic on their way to raising awareness in communities about the impact of uranium mining. Throughout the past decade, threats to campaigners all over Africa have ranged from menacing phone calls, being denounced on national radio to outright arrests.

At their second meeting, the PWYP Africa Steering committee finalised and formally adopted a protection mechanism to ensure the safety of activists. Drawing from the experiences and lessons learned of the last decade, the Protection Strategy will be periodically updated by the Africa Steering Committee. The document proposes measures to anticipate threats as well as laying out the procedures to swiftly and successfully respond to cases of harassment. A risk barometer will be established to monitor the security conditions of activists in Africa and criteria and procedures have also been adopted to assess risks and threats. Permanent protection structures have been adopted at the regional level and in high risk countries and a legal framework will be formed with a network of national and international legal experts. The committee has also launched a protection fund with which to implement the whole strategy. To read the Protection Mechanism in full please go to our website.

The PWYP Africa Steering Committee met in N’Djamena (Chad) for their second meeting, from 5-7 March 2012. They also covered governance issues, pursued the creation of a PWYP Africa charter and explored future advocacy opportunities for PWYP Africa at the regional and continental level. For more information on the outcome of the meeting please visit our website. PWYP Chad also organised a public information day and debate on how natural resources are managed in the country. We will have more details on this in our next edition. 

EITI and beyond: view from Azerbaijan

“Implementing EITI is like riding a bicycle. If you do not pedal, you will fall off” (Ingilab Ahmadov)

Azerbaijan has been one of the EITI’s brightest success stories:  in 2009 it became the first country to obtain compliant status and has published the most reports, 14 to date. However, the country has sat on its laurels since, missing out on the chance to shine brighter still and become a pioneer in pushing the boundaries and impact of EITI. On 2 March 2012 the International Institute for Environment and Development, and the Public Finance Monitoring Centre organised a workshop to explore the ways in which EITI in Azerbaijan could be deepened and broadened to truly translate transparency into accountability. The morning session of the workshop was attended by all stakeholders including government and company representatives while the afternoon was attended by civil society organisations, some of whom are on the Azerbaijan’s EITI MSG.

There was a general consensus at the workshop that one of the most important future steps for EITI in Azerbaijan was to shift from aggregate to disaggregate reporting (at the project level). While some companies are against project-level reporting – and due to the consensus nature of decision making on the MSG are thus blocking progress – participants felt that these companies were persuadable. With genuine support from the government for project level reporting it was suggested that this could become EITI practice in Azerbaijan within the year.

Broadening the EITI in Azerbaijan is not just an opportunity for the country to become an innovator in the field; it is a crucial step for the EITI to remain relevant and deliver on its promises.
This is a summary of a report written by IIED on the workshop, which you can read in full here.

PWYP gathers momentum in MENA

PWYP is delighted to welcome a new addition to the international team, who will support our burgeoning work in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA). Ms Diana Kaissy joined the PWYP team on 5 March 2012 as PWYP MENA/Iraq Coordinator and will be primarily responsible for coordinating with PWYP’s Arabic-speaking coalitions in the MENA region, Iraq in particular, with potentially expanding country responsibilities. 
Publish What You Pay currently has two affiliated national coalitions in the Middle East:
The Transparency Coalition and Extractive Industries Watch (TCEIW) is PWYP’s affiliated coalition in Yemen. TCEIW was founded in October 2009, and consists of 12 member organisations. TCEIW members were actively engaged in national EITI implementation process, up until the country’s suspension from the initiative last June due to the deteriorating political situation in the country. TCEIW members recently signaled their support for Yemen’s EITI suspension to be lifted  following the presidential elections in February 2012 and formation of a reconciliation government.
In Iraq, meanwhile, the Iraqi Transparency Alliance for the Extractive Industries (ITAEI) joined the PWYP global network in January 2012, and currently boasts more than 50 members. The main focus for the ITAEI is to consolidate civil society efforts to engage with the Iraqi EITI process, to ensure the information that is disclosed can be of use and useful for Iraqi society at large, in the governance of their country’s abundant resources.
Diana previously worked as the Lebanon Country Manager for PACES, a charity which seeks to use sports programmes to encourage and empower children living in the Palestinian refugee camps, for hope for a better future. You can contact Diana directly at dkaissy@pwypmena.org

We have also created a country page for Iraq on our website.  

Oil transparency now!

These are the first few paragraphs from a post on Oxfam’s blog, the Politics of Poverty, covering recent developments in the US campaign. Read the full blog post here.

Almost a month ago, Oxfam America and allies in the Publish What You Pay US coalition took the gloves off in our campaign to stop Big Oil from succeeding in a behind-the-scenes push to gut the landmark oil and mining payment transparency provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act.

Who knows how this fight will ultimately end, but we are making real progress. Since the start of this campaign spike, we’ve had dozens of media hits and turned this from a secret struggle at the SEC into a very public fight about oil company secrecy. And we’ve had fun along the way—Our fabulous “oil companies in bed with the SEC stunt” was quickly followed frisky group of “see no evil” monkeys in an oil barrel outside the Chevron tower in Houston—a stunt that was covered in the Houston Chronicle and the San Francisco Chronicle.

We’ve had high-profile figures weigh in as well, from Bill Gates to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In her remarks at a Senate hearing last week—watch a video of her remarks here—Clinton said the SEC should “go as far as possible” in implementing the final rule. “We know that there are challenges in doing this. I hope the regulations expected from the SEC reflect the clear intent of the law, namely to require all relevant companies operating in this sector to disclose the payments they make to foreign governments. I think everybody is benefited from the disinfectant of sunshine and the spotlight to hold institutions accountable.”

... read the rest of the blog post here