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Transparency through Contract Disclosure

Transparency through contract disclosure can help increase accountability and improve good governance of large-scale investments, including by assisting individuals or communities likely to be affected by a particular investment to better understand its potential impacts, and to hold contracting parties to their commitments. Increased transparency through disclosure of large-scale resource-based contracts can also assist host governments in future negotiations, as well as government entities seeking to better monitor contract implementation.

Transparency through disclosure includes the right and ability to access information, as well as the ability to understand and use the information disclosed. To date, contract disclosure requirements are more common in the extractive industry sector than in other sectors. These requirements tend to focus on the primary contracts (concession agreements, production sharing contracts, etc.), excluding related contracts (such as those containing the associated infrastructure arrangements) from disclosure requirements.

A couple of countries have extended their disclosure commitments beyond extractive contracts. The Democratic of the Congo also mandates disclosure of forestry agreements, while Liberian law requires disclosure of extractives, forestry and large-scale commercial agricultural contracts. In addition, Ethiopia has also published its agricultural contracts online, without a legal mandate requiring it to do so.

Tools such as ResourceContracts.org and OpenLandContracts.org strive to translate contract disclosures into meaningful information that can improve transparency and accountability throughout the life of a natural resource investment.

Source: Global Witness, Oakland Institute and International Land Coalition: Dealing with disclosure: Improving transparency in decision-making over large-scale land acquisitions, allocations and investments

See also the NRGI Readers on Contract Transparency and Transparency Mechanisms and Movements.