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27 Aug 2020

Jaff Bamenjo, RELUFA/Cameroon

Commentary: Are Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives Mere Lip Service for Local Communities?

After more than two decades, however, local communities are now questioning whether MSIs have proved relevant and effective in addressing these problems.

As a civil society actor who works closely with communities affected by resource extraction in Cameroon, I have closely followed the implementation of two MSIs: the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) for close to a decade... [A]lmost twenty years later, it is quite telling how these MSIs are oblivious to the concerns of the local communities that were the intended beneficiaries of their creation...

The current set-up and functioning of the KPCS makes change very unlikely because critical voices from civil society and diamond-mining communities are not included in decision-making...

Although the merits of the EITI in promoting oil revenue disclosure in Cameroon should be acknowledged, there is no evidence to suggest that EITI has meaningfully benefited local communities and their social and economic development. Instead, in civil society circles it is understood that many countries adhere to the EITI merely for image-cleansing...

Both the KPCS and EITI are both operating and perceived as elite actors with too little anchorage in local communities affected by resource extraction—despite the fact that these communities are their intended beneficiaries. It is therefore clear that these multi-stakeholder initiatives are mostly relevant as discussion platforms, paying mere lip service to local communities...

Although MSIs cannot be counted upon to protect community interests, there is still a need to rethink and render them more inclusive of local communities since they provide a platform for these communities to obtain useful information for the defense of their rights.