The UK’s hard-earned reputation as a leader in the global fight to end corruption was in tatters after NGOs today walked out of a landmark scheme to ensure transparency in the extractive sector, said Global Witness.
The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) was co-launched by the UK government in 2002 to help fight the corruption that robs developing countries of billions of dollars through dodgy oil, gas and mining deals struck between government ministers and extractive companies.
The scheme has dramatically helped improve transparency around global oil and gas deals by giving civil society a core role in scrutinising any agreements and holding industry and governments to account – making sure profits benefit ordinary people rather than being siphoned off into the bank accounts of a corrupt few.
Today’s walkout was prompted after the UK government breached the rules of the EITI by inviting the organisation headed by former MP Eric Joyce to co-represent civil society in the Initiative. The rules clearly state that, in order to ensure full independence of civil society voice, NGOs must collectively decide who will represent them. By directly approaching one organisation, the UK government is undermining the independence and democracy of civil society in the process.
Simon Clydesdale, oil campaign leader for Global Witness, said:
“The UK government is actively subverting the process that helps ensure governments and the extractive industry are held to account over oil, gas and mining deals. A year ago the UK was leading the global fight to end corruption, now it is set to fail the transparency test it set the rest of the world. If Theresa May wants her rhetoric on fighting poverty and instability to be believed, her government must vigorously defend the measures designed to deliver on it. That means empowering civil society to scrutinise proceedings, not undermining its role.”