VIDEO: Ideas@IDRC: Charles Cater
Dr. Cater outlines his research on transparency in extractive industries noting there are limits to how much change international actors can effect; the most sustainable results can be achieved by domestic actors. Produced during the Development Ideas authors’ workshop, Ottawa 2011. ©IDRC/CRDI. (French transcript)

— Abstract

Transparency-based policies are currently the main approach to mitigating the resource curse in developing countries, and to address corruption and conflict. Policymaking often reflects conventional assumptions: a) that traditional financial opacity of extractive industries enables illicit appropriation of resource rents, and b) that correlations between natural resource dependency and intrastate conflict are explained as combatant financing mechanisms. Thus, transparency has been widely adopted as an integral policy component, through financial regulation, commodity tracking, and resource interdiction. Political and economic interests, however, among states, international organizations, and transnational corporations also influence policy-making.

The mixed track record of transparency-based policies demands a reexamination of the assumption that increased economic transparency necessarily translates into enhanced political accountability in developing countries. It also calls for exploring alternative and complementary approaches to escape the resource curse.

- Download this Chapter -

— Suggested Readings

Africa Peace Forum (APFO). (2013). Impunity, transparency and accountability [Kiswahili language]. Annex 24 of the Second Project Technical Report (covering 1st March 2010 - 28th February 2011).

Darby, Sefton. (2010). Natural Resource Governance: New frontiers in transparency and accountability. London: Open Society Foundation. [PDF 2MB]

Florini, Ann. (2007). The right to know transparency for an open world. New York: Columbia University Press.

Humphreys, Macartan, Jeffrey D. Sachs and Joseph E. Stiglitz (eds.) (2007). Escaping the Resource Curse. New York: Columbia University Press.

Le Billon, Philippe. (2012). Wars of Plunder: Conflicts, Profits and the Politics of Resources. New York: Columbia University Press.

Revenue Watch Institute and Transparency International. (2011). Promoting Revenue Transparency: 2011 Report on Oil and Gas Companies. New York and Berlin: Revenue Watch Institute and Transparency International.

Ross, Michael L. (2012). The Oil Curse: How Petroleum Wealth Shapes the Development of Nations. Princeton: Princeton University Press

Veit, Peter G., Excell, Carole, and Zomer, Alisa. (2012). Avoiding the resource curse: spotlight on oil in Uganda. Avoiding the Resource Curse : Spotlight on Oil in Uganda. World Resources Institute, Washington, DC, US.