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NEW YORK–The Revenue Watch Institute congratulates its grantee and partner Marc Ona, who was announced Monday as the African winner of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for 2009. The prize is awarded annually to grassroots environmental heroes on each of six continents. Ona, the coordinator of the Publish What You Pay coalition in Gabon, is a leader in the struggle to preserve Gabon's natural resources.
Activist and RWI grantee Marc Ona was announced Monday as the African winner of the Goldman Environment Prize for 2009, in recognition of his leadership protecting Gabon's Ivindo National Park from the impact of the massive Belinga mining project. Ona, who is Publish What You Pay coordinator for Gabon, is also one of several advocates harassed by government officials in recent months for their pursuit of sound environmental policy and responsible revenue management.
Though Halliburton made history recently when the company and its former subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) agreed to the largest corruption settlement ever paid by a U.S. company under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)—$579 million—their historic guilty plea is only the latest in a string of high-level bribery cases involving payments from multinationals to secure contracts in Nigeria and elsewhere around the globe.
On December 31, anti-corruption campaigners in Gabon, including PWYP Gabon Co-coordinator Marc Ona and coalition Gabon member Georges Mpaga, both RWI grantees, along with civil servant Grégory Ngoua Mintsa, and two journalists, Gaston Asseko and Dieudonné Koungou, were arbitrarily arrested and detained for a full week without formal charges or official warrants against them.
Revenue Watch has been excited to see U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton championing openness in government both at home and abroad. Marking "Freedom of Information Day" on March 16, Secretary Clinton said that United States was "ushering in a new era of transparency in government."
A coalition of civil society organizations from the Democratic Republic of Congo's natural resources sector have released a statement challenging their government to improve its position on Congolese mining legislation following what they consider a flawed mining contracts review process last December.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy was on a two-day tour this week that included three resource-rich African nations. To ensure fairer sharing of revenues between industry and nations like Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo, France must do more to increase transparancy and honor its own commitment to accountable natural resource management.
The UN General Assembly encouraged all member states to increase efforts to embrace and promote transparency and accountability in the extractive industries by unanimously adopting a resolution on the subject of "Strengthening Transparency in Industries."
Half a dozen Revenue Watch delegates joined over 500 participants at the fourth EITI Global Conference from February 16 to 18, in Doha, Qatar. Representatives from over 80 countries gathered to celebrate the achievements of the initiative thus far, to share experiences of support and implementation, and discuss ways of moving forward. The Republic of Azerbaijan was accepted as EITI Compliant, becoming the first implementing country to pass the EITI Validation process that determines whether an implementing country has met EITI requirements.
With bright sunlight shining on the gathered crowd, the mayor said, "I spent 25,242 soles for paving a street in the Cristo Nos Valga district." Amid Sechura's anniversary celebration, Mayor Santos Valentin Querevalu Periche spent more than 45 minutes describing, in painstaking detail, each line of the local government's budget. Between the flag-raising ceremony and the boisterous parade, the entire town stopped to hear how their leaders were spending the income from their natural resources.
The struggles and opportunities for sound extractive revenue management vary among the producing regions of resource-rich countries. To build information-sharing and collaboration, and capture the early lessons from our innovative sub-national pilot projects, Revenue Watch and OSI’s Local Government Initiative convened a one-week meeting with our partners in Ghana, Peru, Nigeria, and Indonesia working on effective policy-making, revenue management and transparency at the local and regional levels.
This video from Burma reveals the links between ongoing oppression and profits from the oil and gas industries. Revenue Watch grantee the Shwe Gas Movement presents the little-told story of how residents living atop the largest gas deposit in Southeast Asia lack their own electricity and face massive relocation without compensation to make way for a $52 billion gas development.
Revenue Watch partner Global Witness has released a new report, "Undue Diligence: How banks do business with corrupt regimes," examining how major banks are playing a role in perpetuating the resource curse by doing business with unethical regimes. Global Witness has uncovered ties between banks and dictatorial regimes in Equatorial Guinea, vicious civil wars in Africa, human rights abusers in Central Asia and opaque extractive companies operating in Angola.
While the country of Niger, in Western Africa, is reaping greater benefits from mining revenues, its progress towards transparency is more uneven. In the wake of questionable mining permit grants, parliamentarian Mahaman Nomao Djika has called for a more open grants process in a public letter to President of the National Assembly Mahaman Nomao Djika Niamey.
In a bipartisan rebuke against corruption, several Members of Congress and leading advocacy organizations condemned the government of Gabon for the arrest and detention of five anti-corruption advocates and demanded that all charges be dropped.
On November 28, 2008, in Maputo, Mozambique, a group of civil society organizations launched a national "Publish What You Pay" coalition to monitor development and government policies in the extractives industries. The coalition was formed under the auspices of G20, the Civil Society Platform for the Monitoring of Development.
Publish What You Pay (PWYP), the global civil society coalition that helps citizens hold their governments accountable for the management of revenues from the oil, gas and mining industries said today that the Gabonese authorities should drop all charges against civil society activists facing unfounded accusations, and guarantee their rights.
Publish What You Pay (PWYP), the global civil society movement for transparency in the oil, gas and mining industries, condemns the arbitrary arrest of anti-corruption campaigners in Gabon, including PWYP Gabon Co-ordinator Marc Ona and PWYP Gabon member Georges Mpaga. 
In today's Houston Chronicle, Revenue Watch legal fellow Susan Maples responds to a recent article about the proposed new company disclosure rules in the Extractive Industries Transparency Disclosure Act now making its way through U.S. Congress.
Senator Dick Lugar, a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, takes on the resource curse in The Christian Science Monitor, writing that "oil and natural gas reserves frequently can be a bane, not a blessing, for poor countries, leading to corruption, wasteful spending, military adventurism, and instability." The Indiana Republican spoke in support of extractive industry transparency during a September hearing on the Extractive Transparency Disclosure Act (EITD) which also included testimony by Revenue Watch experts.
As Uganda prepares to become an oil-producing country, one expert is asking if the nation's new-found reserves will yield national growth or economic doom. In an article in Uganda's "New Vision," researcher Frank Tumusiime, of the Africa Institute for Energy Governance, questions whether the country is positioned to translate oil revenues into capital investments for development.
From CNN, read an essay on America's oil addiction by professor Michael Watts, coauthor with photojournalist Ed Kashi of Black Gold, excerpted from the new book "What Matters," a collection of 18 photo-essays and polemical articles on the pressing issues of our age, created by New York Times bestselling author David Elliot Cohen.
Leaders in the oil-rich state of Bayelsa will open state and local government budgets to unprecedented scrutiny with today's launch of the Bayelsa Expenditure and Income Transparency Initiative (BEITI). Established with planning and technical advice from the Revenue Watch Institute, the BEITI will bring together executives from government ministries, officials from the state's House of Assembly, civil society groups and leaders from the oil and gas industry to audit state income from all sources.
The movement for improved disclosure and anti-corruption regulations gained further attention and momentum in the U.S. Congress this fall, as the Extractive Industries Transparency Disclosure Act picked up new sponsors in the House and the Senate. RWI has pushed hard with Publish What You Pay US over the past year and a half to get this bill introduced and approved in Congress.

Revenue Watch Africa regional coordinator Emmanuel Kuyole and deputy director Julie McCarthy joined more than 140 participants in Abuja, Nigeria this fall for Publish What You Pay's Africa regional meeting. RWI Program officer Angela Mugore led a validation training session, and RWI Fellow Susan Maples conducted a contracts disclosure training session.