In 2010, the United States made history by becoming the first country to require all oil, gas and mining companies listed on its stock exchanges to publish their payments to governments around the world—without exception. The law, secured through the Cardin-Lugar Amendment (Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act), provided a blueprint for other countries to follow. However, in 2013, a U.S. District Court directed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to re-issue its rule and, as a result, no disclosures have been made. The United States, once at the forefront of this issue, now risks falling behind: The European Union and Norway have since passed similar laws on payment transparency by oil, gas and mining companies, Canada has committed to do the same and the G-8 featured natural resource transparency prominently in its summit communiqué last year.
On June 9, the Development Assistance and Governance Initiative at Brookings, Natural Resource Governance Institute (formerly the Revenue Watch Institute), and Global Witness co-hosted a discussion on international developments in natural resource transparency. The discussion considered how transparency of payments to governments can improve the governance of natural resource wealth and combat corruption, and the business case for consistent disclosure across jurisdictions. Senator Ben Cardin delivered a keynote address. A panel discussion followed, including Stephen Comstock, Director, Tax & Accounting Policy, American Petroleum Institute; Michelle Kosmidis, European Commission and EU Fellow at the Fletcher School; Bennett Freeman, Senior Vice President, Sustainability Research and Policy, Calvert Investments, Inc.; Simon Taylor, Founding Director, Global Witness; and Nigerian anti-corruption campaigner Dotun Oloko. Brookings Nonresident Senior Fellow and Natural Resource Governance Institute President Daniel Kaufmann moderated the discussion.