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sharing in governance of extractive industries

I'm just about to go into observe the second day of the EITI Board meeting in Kiev. Civil society has this style I noticed at the last meeting in Berne and I'd be interested if anyone has a view.

The EITI has a tripartite structure which requires that there is at least one third in support of an action in each of the three 'constituencies' before that action can pass. The companies and countries have broadly similar interests but often different opinions, but when civil society people speak (except the sensible elder statesman) they say; "civil society says", in the collective. It's a bit weird at this level, to tell you the truth. It feels like student politics. But it means that civil society always has a block on action. 

In any case, what seems to happen at each meeting is civil society threatens on the first day to use that block. So, for example, yesterday there was significant agreement on the board that implementing countries should have an extra board seat (but not more voteshare, which remains at one third each). One of the country representatives in particular put a compelling and intelligent argument and other board members concurred.  Civil society' just said 'NO', without any powerful argument in reply. 

But obviously, if civil society blocks any possible consensus in this daft way then they'll get blocked too - so they won't achieve anything either because they'll always get blocked too. The EITI will end in stasis. So I think what'll happen is they'll cross another one of their 'red lines' today and back down. 

I'm puzzled. Does civil society (i.e. PWYP) think this is hardball? I mean, since the only result is humiliation for civil society and blown credibility for the elder statesman, do they do it so they can present their action to supporters as a challenge to the bad guys (countries and companies), or is it all simply a horrible misjudgement of style?

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From what I know (about  CSOs)...  isn't it true that NGOs usually say we represent our member's voices BUT and it is huge but they really mean 'the board' or body hierarchy not really members as such? It's not a democracy etc etc? In this case this means a strange mixture of PWYP and Global Witness who fund or work very closely with them.

I know Transparency International have been questioned on similar issues (of constituency and 'franchise')  and  global witness have been   laughed at for saying they have 'zero tolerance' of corruption and  strong commitment to human rights. Hardly representative of everyone in  developing countries then?  Things are never black and white who was it who said ' dangerous it is to speak in absolutes' ? Stay away from the dark side guys.

x

Thanks for this, Martin. Inevitably, the usual civil society collapse took place on cue this morning.

Let me guess what they said....

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