Bordering Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and China, and one of the poorest ‘stani’s’, Tajikistan has the world’s tallest flagpole rising 165 meters in the air which landed the country its only entry in the Guinness Book of World Records . As of last week however Tajikistan has the honour of joining yet another global standard when the President re-affirmed its commitment to implement the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative during a conference held in Dushanbe on November 13 and 14. It was interesting to note however that it was only in the second statement that the Deputy Minister for Finance referred to the three parties in the multi-stakeholder initiative; in the first shorter version he omitted civil society.
And civil society was arguably the heaviest represented in the conference room: we had PWYP civil society coalition members from Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and emerging coalition members from Ukraine and Tajikistan. They were not only attending the EITI conference but also the eighth PWYP Eurasia Regional Meeting that immediately followed. The PWYP regional meeting discussed the future of the EITI where once again the following recommendations were endorsed . Civil society members got an update from EITI CSO board member Dorjdari Namkhaijantsan on the proceedings in Lusaka and plotted on their strategy for the coming months to convince their MSG constituencies at national and international level of the urgency of contract transparency and project-by-project reporting.
A large amount of time was set aside to discuss how to take forward the new PWYP Strategy Vision 20/20 within the Eurasia context. PWYP coalitions started to draft action plans and shared this with each other. While a full report including these national action plans will become available in the coming weeks, there were two very clear recommendations for the PWYP International Secretariat. Firstly the need for a Russian-speaking regional coordinator based in the region and secondly the need to help coalitions access funding at national, regional and international level.
Finally civil society from Tajikistan received ample time to share their experiences and hear some of the lessons learned from their colleagues in the region. The strongest lessons came from Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Ukraine: it is civil society’s role and responsibility to negotiate well during the initial phase of the EITI process so that all your asks are not only on the table but also make it in the first report! Azerbaijan is the clearest example in this where the aggregated data in the report doesn’t provide civil society with the level of information to translate transparency into accountability, but also Kazakhstan is still campaigning for a higher level of disaggregation. Ukraine civil society, the Dixie Group -who has just been nominated on the EITI MSG wants all the EITI strategic options in the EITI Ukraine and will not settle for anything less. This would allow Ukraine to take a leadership role in EITI implementation; something the region can use. Perhaps a bit of competition between Ukraine and Tajikistan would be useful?