Contract transparency and monitoring
Contracts between governments and companies for the exploitation of publicly held natural resources are key documents that detail how and at what cost extraction occurs. Unlike other parts of the legal framework, they have traditionally been kept secret.
Under what now amounts to a new global norm, over 40 governments have published contracts, licenses and permits. This practice is endorsed by over 18 companies and supported by a range of international organizations, including the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, the International Finance Corporation, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Bar Association, the B Team, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the International Council on Mining and Metals.
Publication of contracts brings benefits to all stakeholders. When citizens are able to view contracts, they can monitor extractive industry projects and see whether the rules are being followed. This reduces the risk that negligence or corruption will have adverse environmental and social impacts. For companies, publishing contracts can be an important step toward a “social license to operate” and can help build stronger community relationships that make projects more stable. For governments, contract transparency increases public trust, provides valuable information that strengthens the government’s capacity to enforce the rules, and ensures that all officials have access to the agreed terms relevant to their responsibilities.