Recent Articles

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.
One month of massive rallies and protests. Rivers interrupted by chains of canoes, central roads and even provincial and regional airports occupied by indigenous protesters. Pumping station shutdowns blocking the flow of oil to refineries and export stations and threatening to disrupt both national energy supplies and critical exports. A state of emergency across the entire Amazon region, with some constitutional rights suspended and the Army and the Navy poised to intervene in order to restore order and maintain the flow of Peru's precious black gold. After weeks of silence, a roundtable arranged for negotiations between the executive and the indigenous leadership.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Revenue Watch Institute today urged policymakers in the United States and abroad to embrace the standards and principles of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). The EITI, whose board meets in Washington, D.C. on Friday, is an international standard for openness in the management of oil, gas and mineral wealth. It calls for cooperation and dialogue among governments, companies, and citizen groups. More than two dozen resource-rich countries, from Peru and Nigeria to Mongolia and Norway, have implemented the EITI to date.
From May 11-15, leaders from the global transparency movement met in the United States. All last week and in the following days, Revenue Watch posted updates and reflections from events convened by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and the World Bank. EITI board member and Revenue Watch chairman Anthony Richter also blogged throughout the week's events, which culminated in the formal meeting of the EITI Board.
On April 24, 13 leaders of U.S.-based human rights, development, faith-based, and environmental groups, including RWI Director Karin Lissakers, joined the Publish What You Pay Coalition in a letter to President Obama urging him to make transparency and accountability a priority of U.S. domestic and foreign policy.
NEW YORK–The Revenue Watch Institute congratulates its grantee and partner Marc Ona, who was announced Monday as the African winner of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for 2009. The prize is awarded annually to grassroots environmental heroes on each of six continents. Ona, the coordinator of the Publish What You Pay coalition in Gabon, is a leader in the struggle to preserve Gabon's natural resources.
Activist and RWI grantee Marc Ona was announced Monday as the African winner of the Goldman Environment Prize for 2009, in recognition of his leadership protecting Gabon's Ivindo National Park from the impact of the massive Belinga mining project. Ona, who is Publish What You Pay coordinator for Gabon, is also one of several advocates harassed by government officials in recent months for their pursuit of sound environmental policy and responsible revenue management.
Though Halliburton made history recently when the company and its former subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) agreed to the largest corruption settlement ever paid by a U.S. company under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)—$579 million—their historic guilty plea is only the latest in a string of high-level bribery cases involving payments from multinationals to secure contracts in Nigeria and elsewhere around the globe.
On December 31, anti-corruption campaigners in Gabon, including PWYP Gabon Co-coordinator Marc Ona and coalition Gabon member Georges Mpaga, both RWI grantees, along with civil servant Grégory Ngoua Mintsa, and two journalists, Gaston Asseko and Dieudonné Koungou, were arbitrarily arrested and detained for a full week without formal charges or official warrants against them.
Revenue Watch has been excited to see U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton championing openness in government both at home and abroad. Marking "Freedom of Information Day" on March 16, Secretary Clinton said that United States was "ushering in a new era of transparency in government."
A coalition of civil society organizations from the Democratic Republic of Congo's natural resources sector have released a statement challenging their government to improve its position on Congolese mining legislation following what they consider a flawed mining contracts review process last December.