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Review of ‘Beyond Governments: Making Collective Governance Work – Lessons from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative’

Written by Guest on Sunday, 31 May 2015

Guest blogger Laurence Cockcroft reviews Beyond Governments: Making Collective Action Work – Lessons from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative by Greenleaf  Publishing


Guest blogger Laurence Cockcroft, a development economist and author of the recent book Global Corruption: Money Power and Ethics in the Modern World reviews Beyond Governments: Making Collective Governance Work –  Lessons from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative by Eddie Rich and Jonas Moberg (Greenleaf Publishing).


The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) has had remarkable success since 2003 in turning the idea of  ‘revenue transparency’  into a governing principle of energy and mineral extraction in thirty eight countries . The founding premise has been that companies in the extractive sector would declare all payments (pre-signature bonuses corporate tax and royalties) made to governments and governments would declare aggregate revenue received. (The first two countries to be compliant were Nigeria and Azerbaijan: the list now includes the US and the UK) The initial primary objective was to expose and minimise flows of funds which were being syphoned out of national economies by corruption. As EITI has developed it has come to embrace broader issues in a number of ‘compliant’ countries including transparency in the expenditure of revenue. The success of the programme owes a great deal to its initial Chairman, Peter Eigen, and to his successor, Clare Short. 

This book written by Jonas Moberg, the Head of EITI’s Secretariart, and Eddie Rich, his Deputy, is not only a quasi-history of EITI, identifying the reasons for its success, but also an exploration of the kind of institutional structure which it represents, christened here ‘collective governance’ a variant on a theme which has been popular in academic circles concerned with the political economy of development.  EITI has a membership drawn from corporates, governments and civil society, and an elected Board and Chairman. Its success is largely attributed to a determined effort to work with persuasive players at all levels in governments, companies and civil society and the identifies many of these by name.

The book also stresses that the on-going pressure from the civil society organisation – Publish What You Pay – which spawned EITI in the first place has also been critical. In an interesting discussion of the issue of impact the authors confirm that it is very difficult to show how many people have been lifted out of poverty as a result of EITI or even what the total increase in government revenue diverted from corruption has been. They argue on the other hand that the real benefits have been in ‘process’ and particularly in opening up effectively secret payment streams between companies and governments.  They do not however address some clear anomalies such as the $20 Billion arising from oil revenue due to be paid to government and generated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company in Nigeria as reported by the Banks’s former governor Sanusi Lamido and the subject of  a two year old major controversy (and investigation by PWC) in Nigeria.

The argument for collective governance which is the primary message of the book is made by repeated allusions  to EITIs own experience in critical stages of assembling  is institutional framework and the lessons learned. (A key one of which, endorsed in the preface by Clare Short, is proceed with ‘humility’). The principal argument  advanced for the application of loosely comparable systems to other sectors is that in many  parts of the world, government  is simply too weak to (or too corrupt) to address the critical issues which it faces, and so a coalition of  governments, civil society and the corporate sector can be crucial to moving  things forward.

The case is well made on the basis of what the authors admit to be a limited stock of evidence and one which is nearly entirely drawn from EITI with occasional complimentary references to the Natural Resource Governance Institute (initiated by Paul Collier) and the Kimberly Process (subject to recurrent stand-offs between civil society and governments). They suggest that a comparable approach could be applied to financial transactions, the media, land acquisition and the construction sector. One might add climate change itself to this list.

This reviewer considers that their case is flawed both by some of the unique circumstances surrounding EITI and the sheer difficulty of applying the approach elsewhere. In practice similar ideas have been suggested for forestry, construction and defence but have not advanced very far. At the heart of this is the question of both national sovereignty and corporate objectives. Notwithstanding this important caveat Moberg and Rich have written a demanding and important account of a remarkable initiative which undoubtedly has lessons for the future, if not quite as prescriptive as those they suggest.   


If you are interested in attending our event on June 10 discussing the book Beyond Governments : Making  Collective Action Work – Lessons from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative’  follow this link

Details of the event are as follows:

Global Witness and Transparency International UK London

Date: 10th June
Time: 6.30pm – 9pm
Venue:  Saint-Martin-In-The-Field
Presentation by: Jonas Moberg and Eddie Rich, Head and Deputy Head of EITI
Comments by: Global Witness
Chaired by: Robert Barrington, Transparency International UK

RSVP: This event is free of charge but space is limited, so we ask that you register in advance and by 5th June at cforknell@globalwitness.org  or http://bit.ly/1A4xoLs

We hope you can join us for this interesting and informative debate.


Read 2115 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 11:53


The TI-UK blog features thought and opinion from guest writers as well as TI staff. Any opinions expressed by external contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of Transparency International UK.

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