In Iraq, transparency iscompletely new term that was externally imposed and became an internationalobligation, in post 2003 Iraqi petroleum sector; that was associated with theinvasion of the country in 2003, with the focus of the invading forces on oilsector and with then recent EITI as powerful transparency promoting entity.
Through more than ten years ofexperience with transparency and association with EITI, Iraq went throughdifferent phases that worth assessment and evaluating what has the countrylearned or benefited, challenges faced and what has been done.
There is some inaccurateperception and understanding, within Iraqi circles, on what EITI is all about,and thus it becomes necessary to provide brief review of EITI: clarifying whatare the fundamental "principles”, how the "Standard” formulated, what are the"institutional” settings- both national and international and finally, what arethe "processes” and how they work. All the above are addressed in part one.Part two focuses on analytically assess the phases of Iraq experience withtransparency in governing petroleum sector. While there was almost notransparency prior to 2003- under both periods pre and during UN imposedsanction on the country, distinct formalized transparency phases are evidentparticularly during the last ten years. The article attempts, in part three, touse quantitative and qualitative measures in addressing the efficiency andeffectiveness of the IEITI core organ, the tri-lateral Multi-Stakeholder Group(MSG). Part four discusses the prospects for IEITI, and practically,transparency in the entire country. In this juncture the article argues thatbecause of the significant importance of the oil sector in the national economyof Iraq, a successful and functional transparency in this sector could alsohave positive spill-overs on other real economy sectors as well as financialand government at federal and provincial levels. In this regards, IEITI isactually at a cross-roads; and all depends first on the "Validation”, done inApril 2019 and was confirmed before year ended, and second, on thesignificant changes that Iraq has to undertake if it wants to have ameaningful, functional and effective transparency.
Methodologically, this articleis of empirical field-work type; it is based on my direct and indirectinvolvement in IEITI work; review and assess all annual and other reports byIEITI; service provider, as independent consultant on energy, for capacitydevelopment through many workshops organized, by Revenue Watch Institute (RWI) then becomes NaturalResource Governance Institute (NRGI), since 2010 for parliamentarians, local government officials, media andjournalists, civil society organization among others; actual participation inIEITI activities; direct network contacts and communications; reviewing allavailable, 48, reports on MSG meetings and finally on my research works,presentations and publications on IEITI issues during the last ten years. Forpractical reasons, transparency in KRG is not covered in this article.
Though Iraq EITI (IEITI)experience is characterized as bureaucratic formality and symbolic, the articlewould argue that good, comprehensive and regular reporting on transparencyenhances transparency and contributes to good governance in the petroleumsector. Hence, the article argues further, that what is needed is how totransform IEITI into real, effective and impacting change agency.
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A refined peer-reviewedversion of this article was published on the international academic Journalof Contemporary Iraq & the Arab World-JCIAW, Volume 13 Numbers 2 &3, 2019, Intellect ltd (UK). A subscriptionor purchase the article is required to access the Journal.
Ahmed Mousa Jiyad
Development Consultancy & Research,