“The participation of civil society is fundamental to achieving the objectives of EITI.” The new Civil Society Protocol of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) begins with this statement. Adopted in January, the Protocol provides guidelines to all 48 member states for evaluating the ability of civil society to participate in the EITI. Among others, the guidelines include the ability of civil society representatives to:
- Engage in public debate related to and express opinions about the EITI process without restraint, coercion or reprisal;
- Operate freely in relation to the EITI process, including the ability to register, access funding, hold meetings, disseminate information, and comment publicly;
- Communicate and cooperate with each other regarding the EITI process;
- Engage in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the EITI process; and
- Speak freely on transparency and natural resource governance issues.
These guidelines will be used to determine the necessity of an EITI Rapid Response Committee investigation into the environment for civil society in a particular country.
The Protocol is an important step in improving civil society participation in the EITI and protecting civic space in the 48 EITI implementing countries. ICNL is pleased that the Protocol was informed in large part on the recommendations that we developed with our partners in the Publish What You Pay Coalition.