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MSI Integrity Workshop at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, 22 July 2013

On 23 July 2013, MSI Integrity will be holding a workshop at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies at Wits on their methodology for assessing Multistakeholder Initiatives (MSIs).

The workshop will be held at 2pm at The Centre for Applied Legal Studies, DJ du Plessis Building, West Campus, University of the Witwatersrand, Braamfontein.  CALs telephone number is +27 11 717 8600 and the general office e-mail contact is Duduzile.Mlambo@wits.ac.za.  Please contact CALs if you would like to attend this workshop.  There is no charge for the workshop.

About MSI Integrity 

MSI Integrity (full name: The Institute for Multi-Stakeholder Initiative Integrity) is “dedicated to examining the impact and value of voluntary business-related human rights initiatives. Through research, critical assessment and shared learning, MSI Integrity aims to ensure that these initiatives protect and promote human rights. MSI Integrity takes a particular interest in how the initiatives include and impact affected communities.”

MSI Integrity’s Multi-Stakeholder Evaluation Tool

MSI Integrity has developed an evaluation tool to score the impact that MSIs have on human rights.  The MSI Evaluation Tool has over 400 objective indicators against which it assesses MSIs.  It then issues a report card based on the proportion of minimum standards that the MSI has met and a set of criteria assessing the MSIs scope and mandate.

MSI Integrity draft evaluation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

In MSI Integrity’s reports to date, it has covered five MSIs, and reported on the extent to which they protect and promote human rights.  This includes two mining-related MSIs: The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the Kimberly Process.

For the Western Limb region, the EITI is potentially a very relevant initiative.  The EITI is a global standard that promotes revenue transparency and accountability in the extractive sector. It has established a methodology for monitoring and reconciling company payments and government revenues from oil, gas and mining at the country level.  The EITI is a coalition of governments, companies, investors, civil society organisations, and partner organisations.

MSI Integrity’s draft working report on the EITI concluded that “EITI’s narrowly defined notion of transparency is one step toward creating conditions to improve human rights. By limiting EITI’s mandate to transparency of revenue and payments, rather than directly incorporating human rights standards or analyzing those payments and revenue (and subsequent government expenditure of that revenue, discussed below) through a human rights framework, EITI does not explicitly attempt to protect human rights”.

Thus the MSI Integrity Report acknowledges the role that transparency can play in fostering the conditions for human rights to be promoted and protected, but EITI’s mandate was not explicitly linked to the promotion and protection of human rights.  Their report made a number of recommendations for the EITI to meet MSI Integrity’s minimum standards for community involvement.

South Africa is not part of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

However, South Africa is not part of the EITI.  An un-named Department of Mineral Resources representative was quoted as saying “We don’t really see a very compelling argument or need to be signatory of the EITI[…]We think we are transparent enough in terms of how we account for the mineral resources revenues that come to us” (May 2013 SAIIA Occasional Paper).

Expanding the links between high-level initiatives like the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and the lived experience of people in mine-affected communities

There appears to be an opportunity to protect and promote human rights by doing more work on expanding the links between international MSIs like the EITI (something that MSI Integrity has made its core focus) and what is actually happening right now in mining communities (something that is very much part of CALs’ mandate of the meaningful implementation of human rights).

If South Africa were to join the EITI, this would be a step towards greater transparency.  However, the MSI Integrity review of the EITI indicates that, to make a real impact on the protection and promotion of human rights, there needs to be a much closer connection between the things that the EITI currently measures – what mining companies pay governments, and what governments say they earn from mining – and the conditions that communities live in.

In other words, those numbers need to have faces and names behind them so that people can understand the implications for peoples’ lives. This type of detailed qualitative and quantitative work has traditionally required intensive research.   Even when its done, this information is generally not widely available.

The ability to crowdsource quality information using freely available software, and present it using platforms like film and video and graphics that anyone can view and understand, brings this goal within reach in a way it has never been before.