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  • Author: Olan Bilen, Mike Duane, Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Ilona Sologoub
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Since the Maidan revolution, the Ukrainian government has embarked on a comprehensive reform agenda. But almost two years since the revolution, reforms are still lacking in core areas. The most prominent achievements are the establishment of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau to fight high-level corruption, the introduction of a new police force in the cities of Kyiv, Odesa, and Lviv, the reform of the banking system, and the restructuring of the natural gas sector. However, there were few attempts to reform the civil service and businesses continue to claim that middle-and low-level employees at tax and customs agencies remain corrupt. The authors of "Ukraine: From Evolutionary to Revolutionary Reforms" warn that, if the Ukrainian government does not follow through with an ambitious reform agenda, public support for reforms will wane while dissatisfaction will increase, threatening political stability and the country's successful future. There is no time for slow evolutionary changes. Radical and revolutionary reforms are the only way to success.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Civil Society, Reform
  • Political Geography: Ukraine
  • Author: Mark Seip
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The United States and the Nordic states enjoy a strong, productive relationship. However, stability in the Nordic-Baltic area is under increasing stress, which has implications for both NATO and its partner members, Finland and Sweden. In "Nordic-Baltic Security and the US Role," the Atlantic Council's US Navy Senior Fellow Mark Seip argues that the United States must prioritize bolstering assurance among NATO members, principally the Baltic states. Additionally, the United States and NATO should enhance its capabilities through collaboration, leverage soft power instruments, and find mutuality between NATO and its key partners, Finland and Sweden. In doing so, the United States and the Nordic nations stand to solidify the gains of the thriving region and strengthen European security.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Politics
  • Political Geography: Nordic Nations
  • Author: Faysal Itani
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Since August 2014, the US-led air campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has successfully inflicted casualties on ISIS and weakened its oil revenues. However, the same efforts have also accelerated the rise of the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate, and the near-collapse of nationalist rebel forces. In "Defeating the Jihadists in Syria: Competition before Confrontation," Faysal Itani of the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East details the unintended consequences of the coalition air campaign and proposes a revised US strategy. He argues that the United States can effectively assist nationalist insurgents to defeat ISIS and the Nusra Front by enabling them to compete with and contain these groups before ultimately confronting them. Itani writes that the US-led campaign thus far and the train-and-equip initiative set to begin next month undermine and weaken nationalist rebel forces. He criticizes these efforts for failing to provide sufficient support to the rebel forces, while directing them to target ISIS instead of the regime. Meanwhile, the Nusra Front and other jihadist organizations have greater resources and have been effective in targeting the Assad regime. As such, nationalist rebel forces and local populations have increasingly aligned with the Nusra Front and even tolerate ISIS in order to protect themselves against regime violence, criminality, and chaos. Itani's proposed US strategy offers a practical and workable response to the rise of jihadists groups in Syria; this revised strategy seeks to support rebel forces to compete with the Nusra Front for popular support and to take control of the insurgency, contain ISIS, and build capacity for an eventual offensive against the jihadists. This approach will build on positive results in southern Syria by significantly increasing direct financial and material support and training for vetted nationalist groups that have already shown significant success. Simultaneously, in the north the campaign can provide sufficient material support to nationalist forces while expanding coalition air strikes to target ISIS's frontlines, allowing the nationalist insurgency to defend and govern territory. Only once nationalist insurgent forces have successfully competed with the Nusra Front and contained ISIS can they confront and ultimately defeat the jihadist groups in Syria.
  • Topic: Politics, Terrorism, International Security
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Syria
  • Author: Thomas Lassourd
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Natural Resource Governance Institute
  • Abstract: This briefing note is an effort to help frame the main tradeoffs and assess four potential funding models for the newly created national oil company of Uganda. It is based on NRGI’s international experience and understanding of the local context. Uganda’s national oil company will have a critical role. It is expected to professionally manage all aspects of state participation in the sector and act as a center of expertise for the government. It is also expected to play a strong role as a minority equity partner in the USD 4.3 billion Hoima refinery project and potentially in a USD 4 billion export pipeline. Under all possible funding options, strong audit and reporting processes should be required, as well as parliamentary oversight. The chosen funding model will also need to balance the needs of the national oil company with national development needs in Uganda. Funding model options can be adapted to meet Uganda’s unique situation. NRGI is at the disposal of Uganda’s government and parliament to discuss these models.
  • Topic: Development, Energy Policy, Oil, Natural Resources, Governance
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa
  • Author: David Manley
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Natural Resource Governance Institute
  • Abstract: There has rarely been as large a commodity boom, with such resounding effects, as the one that has recently ended. Policy makers and commentators saw the boom as an opportunity to pull hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. But, after the crash of commodity prices, one might ask whether this opportunity been largely missed. Policymakers and citizens of resource-rich countries should draw lessons from the experience and ascertain what risks and opportunities they now face in a period of depressed prices. To contribute to this thinking, NRGI gathered more than 180 experts for two days of discussion at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, in June 2015. Key questions addressed in this conference summary paper include: Were countries prepared for the bust? Was a lack of accountability and transparency really to blame for countries’ poor resource governance efforts? How can transparency be more useful? Has the price slump closed the door on new investment? Is there a “race to the bottom” to stem capital flight? Can we turn the crisis into an opportunity?
  • Topic: Development, International Trade and Finance, Oil, Poverty, Natural Resources, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Natural Resource Governance Institute
  • Abstract: Commodity trading and the activities of trading companies influence economic and governance outcomes in developing countries. Typically privately owned with flexible business models, many trading companies work extensively in “high-risk” environments – including countries with weak institutions, conflicts or other challenges that scare away more risk-averse companies. Given the size of this footprint, and its prevalence in countries with high levels of corruption or poverty (or both), the quality of trading companies’ business practices is of serious concern. Trading companies play several roles through which they influence public institutions and public revenues, and they frequently build close relationships with top officials and political elites. They are major buyers of raw materials sold by governments and state-owned companies worldwide, and these transactions generate significant public revenues. Traders also provide large loans to governments, sell refined products, and enter into joint ventures with state-owned entities. They are expanding their upstream and downstream operations in developing countries as well.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Natural Resources, Governance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Aaron Sayne, Erica Westenberg, Amir Shafaie
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Natural Resource Governance Institute
  • Abstract: Global interest in ownership transparency is growing, with the G8 adopting principles on beneficial ownership; a dozen EITI countries participating in a beneficial ownership pilot; and the US, UK and EU taking steps toward making more beneficial ownership information available. The aim of such initiatives is to shed light on secret ownership structures that enable some extractive companies to evade tax payments or hide improper relationships with government officials. While a complex and opaque ownership structure is no sure sign that an extractives company is engaging in financial misconduct, the publication of beneficial ownership information can help to deter improper practices and enable detection. This briefing explores options open to countries for collecting, publishing and using information on the beneficial owners of oil, gas and mining companies. It provides background on how beneficial ownership works in the extractive industries and why it matters. The briefing also offers governments, companies and civil society members a framework for deciding what information to publish, and considers the critical question of what more disclosure could realistically achieve.
  • Topic: Industrial Policy, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Oil, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Max George-Wagner, Erica Westenberg
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Natural Resource Governance Institute
  • Abstract: Under the EITI Standard, implementing countries are required to produce far more comprehensive reports than before; these go beyond revenue payments to include disclosures across the entire extractive industries decision chain. However, the objective of the Standard is not merely to generate more data, but rather that stakeholders will use the information to impact the governance of the sector. This EITI briefing note explores how countries are faring at meeting the EITI’s more ambitious requirements and what implementing countries can do to begin moving “from reporting to reform.” This briefing note is based on a review of the first 22 reports produced under the Standard; the review assesses both the quality of reporting, as well as the content. We found that in many respects countries have risen to the challenge and become more ambitious and comprehensive in their reporting. This has included highlighting critical deficiencies in license allocation processes, revealing politically affiliated owners of companies, and identifying significant local revenues that were never disbursed. However, a number of significant gaps remain and these are holding countries back from seeing meaningful impacts from their EITI processes. For instance, these reports have missed opportunities to inform major tax code revisions, ignored hotly debated issues of sector employment, and left stakeholders in the dark about individual extractive projects.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, Intelligence, Natural Resources, Governance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Natural Resource Governance Institute
  • Abstract: NRGI has created a series of short, illustrated overviews of key topics in NRGI's portfolio of work. Together they serve as a robust introduction for the lay reader to fundamental issues and concepts in resource governance. Most contain helpful figures and infographics, and each reader has a standard format: key messages, key concepts and case examples, and a final set of practitioner-orientated questions to ask. Each topic is explicitly linked to the relevant precepts of the Natural Resource Charter.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, Oil, Natural Resources, Governance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Susan Stigant, Elizabeth Murray
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: National dialogue is an increasingly popular tool for conflict resolution and political transformation. It can broaden debate regarding a country’s trajectory beyond the usual elite decision makers; however, it can also be misused and manipulated by leaders to consolidate their power. This brief includes principles to strengthen national dialogue processes and considerations for international actors seeking to support these processes.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Diplomacy, Political Economy, Governance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus