Good Governance is crucial for a clear future but it is not sufficient to produce accountability and to create trust in the public sector. It takes several rigid pillars to build a solid bridge; good governance is one of them but not the exclusive; It adds a normative or evaluative attribute to the process of governing.
After Lebanon and Israel finally approved their joint maritime border agreement, politicians have been rallying behind the ability of gas extraction to save Lebanon from its financial collapse; knowing that the one of the main problems related to the management of the sector is that, right from the start, it has been highly politicised.
Lebanon has not entered the oil-producing countries’ club, as gas and petroleum will not be the magic solution for the financial, monetary and economic crisis that has been storming the country for the past three years. Irrespective the results of the exploration, good governance is acknowledged as one of the major challenges facing the nascent sector in the country.
Key attributes of good governance
The Human Rights Council has identified the key attributes of good governance:
– Responsiveness (to the needs of the people)
How are good governance and human rights linked?
Good governance and human rights are mutually reinforcing. Human rights standards and principles provide a set of values to guide the work of governments and other political and social actors. They also provide a set of performance standards against which these actors can be held accountable. Moreover, human rights principles inform the content of good governance efforts: they may inform the development of legislative frameworks, policies, programmes, budgetary allocations and other measures.
The links between good governance and human rights can be organised around four areas:
– Democratic institutions
– Public service delivery
– Rule of law
Previously, the Law on Enhancing Transparency in the Oil and Gas Sector has been approved and includes all provisions in relation to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) including provisions in relation to the petroleum register and beneficial ownership, politically exposed people and requirements on publication and disclosure. The system promotes transparency through different channels, namely an open and competitive licensing procedure, fixed contract terms and quantitative assessment of applications, clear accounting and financial procedures, regulations on health, safety and the environment to name a few. What Lebanon needs is an additional measures to promote good governance and transparency that should be incorporate in the legislative framework to be align it with international standards.
In September 2022, the Lebanese Energy Governance Alliance, in partnership with PWYP (Publish What You Pay), announced the election of 6 members and their representative CSOs (Civil Society Organisations) as part of the MSG (Multi-Stackholders Group ) of the EITI (Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative). Note that EITI is a global standard to promote good governance in the extractive sector.
EITI implementing countries establish a multi-stakeholder group (MSG) – comprised of representatives from government, companies, and civil society that often plays a key role in advocating for a country to join the EITI; The relationship between companies, civil society organisations (CSOs) and the government is formalised in the multi-stakeholder group (MSG).
Today Lebanon is on the right track to initiate his MSG; but additional effort is recommended to finalize the board and start a real plan towards a solid and strong group to support and endorse any sustainable energy plan; This process will increase good governance and transparency along the entire extractive industries value chain and allow stakeholders to make informed decisions about trade-offs in sustainable development of natural resources.
In summary, good governance relates to the political and institutional processes and outcomes that are necessary to achieve the goals of development; In the oil and gas sector, sustainable development requires “a political system that embraces good governance and transparency”; the question is how to start a clean sector when the country is emerging in fully corrupted atmosphere; the challenge is huge and the effort of all the institutions, stakeholders and CSOs is imperative to build a sustainable and strong elements of good governance including transparency and accountability, which create trust between the government and society in national and international levels.