Recent Articles

Today’s brutal shooting attack on the Togolese football team traveling to the Africa Cup of Nations in the oil-rich Angolan province of Cabinda serves as a harsh reminder of the instability that often reigns in enclaves where tremendous oil wealth coexists with chronic underdevelopment.  A purported representative of Cabinda's militant separatist group the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) has claimed initial responsibility for the attack, declaring it "only the start of a series of targeted actions that will continue in all the territory of Cabinda," although few facts about the assailants are yet known.
On November 11, the Revenue Watch Institute hosted journalist Peter Maass, author of the new book Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil, for an afternoon conversation with RWI Director Karin Lissakers. Crude World is a reporter's foray into many of the countries that have come to represent the so-called "resource curse," such as Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan—countries where the discovery of mineral and hydrocarbon reserves has resulted not in greater prosperity, but rather in increased corruption, poverty and environmental degradation.
On September 30, Ukraine's cabinet announced that the country will implement the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) in cooperation with civil society and extractive companies. EITI Chairman Peter Eigen welcomed the news, saying, "Secure energy supplies depend on good governance and transparency. Through its commitment to the EITI, the Ukraine is demonstrating its willingness to play by the highest standards."
On October 20, Revenue Watch began a three-day technical workshop for Ghanaian legislators in Sogakope, Ghana, in partnership with German nonprofit GTZ and the Parliamentary Centre.

STOCKHOLM—Public disclosure and public engagement can transform development strategy into social change, a group of international communications and governance experts told leaders gathered today at the annual European Development Days conference.

On November 11, at 12:30 pm, the Revenue Watch Institute hosted a lunchtime discussion at the Open Society Institute with author Peter Maass about his new book, Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil (Knopf, 2009). In Crude World, Maass examines "oil's indelible impact on the countries that produce it and the people who possess it," bringing stories of the so-called "resource curse" that transparency advocates have long discussed to a broader public. In
Ernesto Zedillo, President of Mexico between 1994 and 2000, has been named as the Chair of the board overseeing the Natural Resource Charter. The Natural Resource Charter is a set of twelve principles for governments and societies on how to effectively harness the opportunities created by natural resources. The other members of the Oversight Board are Yegor Gaidar, former Acting Russian Prime Minister and Charles Soludo. Charles Soludo was the Central Bank Governor of Nigeria until May 2009. The Board responsibilities will include championing the Natural Resource Charter internationally and overseeing the consultation process.
Revenue Watch joins the Publish What You Pay coalition in its support for civil society members in Niger as they resume their participation in the country's EITI process. The decision by the representatives to Niger's EITI multistakeholder group comes following the provisional release of activist Marou Amadou, who had been held in state custody since August 10.
Away from the political controversies over international policy and mismanagement of extractive revenues, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) plays a quiet but pivotal role in steering the transparency of the energy industry. This is the body that determines what a company has to disclose in its annual financial statements.
The Revenue Watch Institute urges the Senate to take swift action on the bipartisan "Energy Security through Transparency Act of 2009," introduced today by Senators Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.). The bill, which will revise U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission guidelines, is a small change that will spark great rewards in financial and political stability for the energy sector worldwide and here in the United States.
NEW YORK—The Revenue Watch Institute praised U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today for the department's welcome decision to end a program allowing energy companies to pay government royalties in oil and gas instead of in cash. Mired in scandal over mismanagement and fraternization between regulators and industry employees, the Royalty-In-Kind (RIK) program has suffered from weak oversight and a dangerous lack of transparency.
On September 15, an appeals court in Niger ordered the provisional release of detained transparency activist and PWYP member Marou Amadou. Amadou has been held since August 11 for "undermining state authority" amid a wave of broader restrictions on the free speech of Nigerien civil society, transparency activists and members of the press.
In the heightened political climate surrounding Iraq's upcoming election, lawmakers and others in Iraq are criticizing the country's pending natural gas deal with Shell Oil, saying that it offers lopsided benefits to the international oil giant and that it was drafted without adequate transparency or oversight.
News from Iraq indicates that on July 28 the Cabinet agreed upon a bill establishing a new National Oil Company (NOC), to help develop the country's petroleum and ramp up production to meet the government's pressing revenue needs. The details of the bill have not been released, but a strong commercial company with a clear mandate could be instrumental in the revitalization of Iraq's oil sector. However, this enabling legislation cannot be a stand-alone action. A national company will be doomed to fail if it arrives unaccompanied by core laws to govern Iraq's oil sector.
The international Publish What You Pay coalition reports that yet another Nigerien transparency activist, Wada Maman, was arrested by authorities on August 22. Maman, the Secretary General of Transparency International's Niger chapter and a PWYP member, was released on bail on August 26, and is charged with "public property damage" and "participation in an unauthorized gathering," after demonstrating against changes in presidential term limits.
Publish What You Pay International cheers the release of human rights and transparency campaigner Golden Misabiko by authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Misabiko, who is in poor health, was arrested on July 24 and charged with "undermining State security," "making defamatory statements" and "inciting public rebellion against state authorities."
On August 16 the civil society leadership within Niger's Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative announced their collective withdrawal from the process until the Nigerien government provides both a greater guarantee of safety and non-harassment of activists for good governance, and the unconditional release of detained transparency activist Marou Amadou. The detention of Amadou comes amidst broader restrictions on the free speech of Nigerien civil society, transparency activists and members of the press.
NEW YORK—The Revenue Watch Institute, together with the international Publish What You Pay coalition, calls on authorities in Niger to immediately release Marou Amadou, a leader in the struggle for extractive industries transparency and a member of Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Niger. On August 12, Amadou was discharged by a Nigerien court after appearing on charges of "regionalist propaganda" and "inciting disobedience." Immediately upon his release, he was seized by national security forces and placed in police custody.
Uganda's nascent oil sector has taken important steps during 2009. Early production was initially scheduled to begin in June, but was postponed after the discovery of additional reserves and the announcement of tentative plans for a new government refinery that could produce heavy fuel oil for electricity generation. (The government is currently seeking potential investors.) In the legislative realm, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development has been shaping a framework to implement the National Oil and Gas policy enacted in January, 2008. This framework is still under discussion in the cabinet.
On August 5, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a strong call for transparency and accountability as part of her 11-day tour of Africa. In remarks delivered at the 8th Forum of the African Growth and Opportunity Act in Nairobi, Kenya, Clinton argued that economic development in Africa depends on cooperation between government, industry and civil society in pushing for better governance—a roster of actors that mirrors the multi-stakeholder approach advocated by the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative—as well as responsible management of natural resource wealth.
NEW YORK—The Revenue Watch Institute joined the international Publish What You Pay coalition today in calling for authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo to immediately release Golden Misabiko, a campaigner for transparency and human rights. Misabiko was arrested on July 24 by the Agence nationale de renseignement (ANR), the national intelligence office, and charged with "undermining State security" and "making defamatory statements."
The Revenue Watch Institute applauds the Liberian government for its recent passage of the Liberian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Act: the most thorough legislation of its kind in any resource-rich nation. The LEITI Act, which requires that all extractive payments due to the country are verified, accounted for and utilized for the benefit of Liberian citizens, builds on ongoing efforts to promote greater transparency and accountability in Liberia, through disaggregated reporting and the disclosure and review of contracts.
NEW YORK—On the eve of President Barack Obama's historic visit to Ghana, the Revenue Watch Institute called on the West African country to make good governance the centerpiece of its energy policy. With Ghana poised to become a major African oil power, Ghanaian and American leaders must hold both their countries to the highest standards of transparency.
On June 16, 2009, citizen leaders and politicians gathered in Lima as a new process was announced for public dialogue on the development of the Amazon region. A new arrival in Lima would find it hard to imagine that the parties gathered and smiling for a photograph today were two weeks ago engaged in an all out confrontation that would lead to the death of at least 34 policemen and native activists, leave the country highly polarized and seriously damage the democratic regime.
On Thursday Congressman Alcee L. Hastings, the Co-Chair of the United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, called for resource-rich countries to be more transparent about the revenues that oil, gas or minerals generate for their countries. Improved transparency, Hastings said, would help alleviate poverty, promote stable investment, and enhance energy security to help create more stable business environments and democratic governments.