From 29th June until the 3rd July I attended the Just Governance conference, held by Initiatives of Change in Caux, Switzerland.
Each year Caux conferences bring together diplomats, politicians, academics, trade unionists, private sector representatives, and NGO workers from over 60 countries. The conference provides an opportunity to explore the structures and personal qualities that promote ethical and inclusive governance, as well as questioning how countries can achieve a form of governance which is accountable to all citizens.
As part of my participation, I was asked to contribute to a workshop on ‘Overcoming Africa’s Resource Curse’ – a gathering of political, private sector and civic representatives who are working to ensure African citizens benefit from the natural resources.
There were a number of interesting and topical presentations during this workshop. Ekuru Aukot, for instance, spoke of his experience directing the Committee of Experts that developed the new Kenyan constitution. With oil discoveries having been made in the Turkana region, provisions for devolution and revenue sharing set out under the constitution have become increasingly important. As chair of the Selection Panel for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, Dr Aukot discussed how he had been working with the pastoralist communities in Turkana to ensure they are treated justly by both the Government and the prospecting companies. Another interesting presentation was made by Benjamin Phelan (Head of Innovation & Technology at Future Brilliance), who gave an overview of the work of Future Brilliance, where he is working on pilot projects in Afghanistan to raise local skills in transforming minerals into finished jewels.
I was able to highlight how these issues can be framed can be framed within the wider context of the Natural Resource Charter. Following my presentation on the content and implementation of the Charter there was great interest from the participants to know more about how the Charter can benefit those at the community level. IN particular, participants in the workshop wanted to know more about the NRC Country Assessment Framework and how it might be used in their own country. Participants felt that it is important that countries are able to design and adapt their own framework and they appreciated the versatility of the Natural Resource Charter for this purpose.