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In Kazakhstan, civil society is held back and has had a limited role in the management of the petroleum sector. As this chapter notes, civil society has had little experience of promoting its own interests vis-à-vis the state, and public discussion of natural resource issues has been mainly government-driven. The fact that Kazakhstan made a notable step forward—from being a collapsing socialist economy in the 1990s to becoming a regional economic player with improved social and economic performance—has helped to legitimize non-transparent natural resource policies. As long as the socio-economic situation continues to improve or remains stable, the non-transparent management of natural resources is likely to be accepted by the population, which, like the Russian population, puts a premium on stability. The relative passivity of civil society has been compensated by Kazakhstan’s exposure to international initiatives and organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and numerous UN agencies. As in Azerbaijan, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) has provided a platform for some civil society engagement with industry and government.
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143
© e Author(s) 2018
I. Overland (ed.), Public Brainpower,
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-60627-9_9
9
Kazakhstan: Civil Society andNatural
Resource Policy inKazakhstan
RomanVakulchuk andIndraOverland
Introduction
In this chapter we discuss public debate on natural resource management
in Kazakhstan and outline the roles of various players in shaping the
debate. We nd that civil society has had a limited role in the manage-
ment of the petroleum sector, and public discussion of oil and gas issues
has been driven mainly by the government and international
organizations.
Kazakhstan possesses 3% of global oil reserves, placing it among the
world’s top 15 countries in terms of oil reserves. ere are 172 known
oilelds in Kazakhstan, the largest ones being Karachaganak, Kashagan
and Tengiz. More than 80 of the oilelds are under development (Cohen
R. Vakulchuk (*)
Norwegian Institute of International Aairs, Oslo, Norway
I. Overland
Head of the Energy Programme, Norwegian Institute of International Aairs,
Oslo, Norway
144
2015). Unlike petro-states such as Nigeria or Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan
ended up largely privatizing its energy sector, and foreign investors were
given a free hand in the 1990s. Seeking to deal with the economic crisis
brought on by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the government oered
the country’s main oilelds to international oil companies, through
production- sharing agreements (PSAs) that were attractive to foreign
investors but opaque to the Kazakh public (Udartsev 2004; Kennedy and
Nurmakov 2010; Ahmadov etal. 2012; Tsalik 2003).
However, after the year 2000 the government changed its policy towards
international oil companies. e government toughened the regulatory
regime, strengthened the role of national companies and revised the energy
legislation (Hosman 2009). Some contractswere renegotiated, opening
the way for greater government take.Several scholars have explained these
changes with reference to the growing resource nationalism in Kazakhstan
during that period (e.g. Kennedy and Nurmakov 2010; Sarsenbayev 2011).
e main issues in the evolving public debate on natural resource
management in Kazakhstan have been the distribution of oil income
between resource-rich and other regions, the establishment of the
National Fund of the Republic of Kazakhstan (NFRK) in the year2000
and Kazakhstans membership in the Extractive Industries Transparency
Initiative (EITI) since 2005. e rst attempts to question lack of trans-
parency in natural resource management date back to the early 2000s and
were made not only by the general public but also by international NGOs
operating in Kazakhstan (KIPR 2015). Moreover, government represen-
tatives stressed the need to improve transparency in order to show that
the country met international standards (Kazpravda 2004). Later on,
civil society continued the debate in a more concerted, albeit limited,
manner. e next sections review the roles that the various types of civil
society actors have and have not played in the Kazakh context.
NGOs
As Wilson and Van Alstine (2014, 40) note, civil society in Kazakhstan is
weakly developed, with only a few ‘truly independent organisations’.
Given the lack of free civic culture during Soviet times, Kazakhstan in the
R. Vakulchuk and I. Overland
145
1990s had little experience with NGOs. Instead it was international
organizations that established and supported many NGOs during that
period and became instrumental in the building of Kazakhstan’s civil
society (Diachenko 2007; Makhmutova and Akhmetova 2011; Overland
2005, 63). According to Luong and Weinthal (2010, 289), ‘international
NGOs have served as a conduit forraising awareness of the plight of local
populations aected by negative externalities of oil and gas exploration
and production’ in resource-rich regions.
Since 2003, the international NGO Crude Accountability has been
working with local people in the town of Berezovka in Kazakhstan, to
raise general awareness of the environmental hazards related to the
Karachaganak and Kashagan oilelds and demand compensation from
the state (Crude Accountability 2003). e Aarhus Centre, supported by
the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), has
been present in Kazakhstan since 2001, also in oil-rich regions, working
with the local authorities and the private sector on environmental issues.
Eko-Mangistau, established in 2000, has been supported by various
international donors.
Legislation aimed at regulating and supporting NGOs was adopted
in the early 2000s. A law on non-commercial organizations was passed
in 2001, and in 2002 the Concept of State Support for NGOs was
adopted, setting out government support measures for the NGO sec-
tor. In 2004, several local NGOs formed the coalition ‘Oil Revenues—
Under Public Oversight’ to monitor Kazakhstans EITI membership.
e motivation for joining EITI in 2005 was to boost government
credibility by increasing transparency in the natural resource sector.
e creation of the NGO coalition was one of the rst major signs of
emerging interest from civil society actors as regards the petroleum
sector.
In 2007, Kazakhstan was granted EITI candidate status. A successful
example of civil society inuence on the government was the issuing of a
decree in 2006 obliging natural resource companies to meet EITI require-
ments as a necessary condition for further contracts (NRGI 2013).
Wilson and Van Alstine (2014, 41) opine that, on the whole, ‘public
awareness has grown along with the depth of engagement of NGOs in
the EITI process’.
9 Kazakhstan: Civil Society andNatural Resource Policy...
146
In 2009, the government applied for EITI-compliant status for the
rst time, but failed to obtain it due to objections from the NGO
coalition. e NGOs regarded the progress made by the government (in
particular, limited stakeholder representation) as insucient for full
membership, and this position was taken into account by the EITI
Secretariat. In response, the government expanded the inclusion of stake-
holders in the National Stakeholder Council (the multi-stakeholder
management and oversight group set up for EITI) and invited more
actors to join it (World Bank 2013).1 Ospanova etal. (2013, 17) note the
important role played by the coalition in the debate on petroleum sector
management in Kazakhstan:
[I]n discussions around EITI in Kazakhstan, proponents feel there should
be more relevance to oil, gas and mining regions such as Atyrau, Aktau,
Uralsk, Kyzylorda, Aktobe and Karaganda. is includes addressing issues
such as how extractive industry-related funds are spent locally and how
civil society, industry and government engage at the local level. Other
important issues brought up repeatedly by the CSO [Civil Society
Organization(s)] coalition and other stakeholders include: disaggregated
reporting, transparency of social investments and wider participation in
EITI of all extractive companies.
In 2013, Kazakhstan achieved EITI-compliant status, meaning that
EITI recognized that the country had achieved progress in enhancing
transparency. EITI reports on Kazakhstan include disclosure of social
expenditure by companies and detail about the revenue channels that
make up the national budget. Over the eight-year period of active coop-
eration among stakeholders under EITI, seven national reports disclosing
revenues from the extraction of natural resources were released and made
available to the public on the website of the National EITI Secretariat
(EITI Kazakhstan 2016). e 2013 report included data from 170
companies—more thanin any of the 35other EITI-reporting countries
(World Bank 2013).
However, the NGO coalition set up to engage with EITI in Kazakhstan
proved unstable due to internal conicts (EITI 2015). In 2013, after
meeting the necessary EITI requirements and accomplishing its mission
R. Vakulchuk and I. Overland
147
of securing EITI-compliant status, the coalition ceased to be an active
player. is exemplies a more general point: many NGOs in
Kazakhstan—with some exceptions, such as the NGO Eko-Mangistau—
are ad hoc initiatives created to solve specic problems. Moreover, link-
ages between the general population and NGOs are generally weak:
‘citizens are often only interested in civil society’s work at particular, spo-
radic moments’ (Makhmutova and Akhmetova 2011, 49). Most local
NGOs have short lifespans; however, some active individuals and experts
from disbanded NGOs stay committed and join new initiatives.
Kazakh citizens generally lack basic knowledge of EITI’s purpose and
institutions. Because there is limited feedback from the public, the EITI
process mostly involves specialized NGOs, rarely drawing in the broader
population. is is similar to many other EITI member states (Cater
2013, 74–75). In 2013, Svetlana Ushakova, a representative of the NGO
coalition, noted: ‘ere are benets. Disclosed data allows the experts
from society [eksperty ot obshestvennosti] to analyse them’ (Better.kz 2013).
However, Oksana Martynyuk (EITI Kazakhstan 2013) has argued that
members of the public have little awareness of EITI and its mission.
According to a local newspaper article reposted by the Committee of
Geology and Subsoil Use under the Ministry for Investment and
Development of Kazakhstan:
[D]espite increased transparency and the publication of EITI reports
between 2005 and 2015, few Kazakhs know about these reports. Even if
some do, they have little understanding of how to use the data in those
reports and why they need them at all. (Ustinka.kz 2016)
Another signicant transparency initiative in Kazakhstan also pro-
moted by international organizations and NGOs is the Resource
Governance Index (RGI), which ranks Kazakhstan 19 out of 58
resource- rich countries (NRGI 2013). e government provides only
partial information on natural resource extraction and therefore scored
no more than 58 out of 100 points. is is partly explained by the terms
of contracts signed by the government and investors, which restrict the
sharing of detailed information that might encourage active public
participation.
9 Kazakhstan: Civil Society andNatural Resource Policy...
148
us, civil society in general has limited experience participating in
public and critical discussion of natural resource issues. Most of the
transparency and public scrutiny initiatives in Kazakhstan’s petroleum
sector have been initiated by international NGOs.
Mass Media
Kazakhstans position in the World Press Freedom Index in 2016 was 160
out of 180 countries, down from 154in 2012. is indicates not only
that freedom of expression is restricted but also that the situation is not
improving (RSF 2015; Overland 2012). Most Kazakh mass media have
applauded government initiatives in the petroleum sector, such as con-
tract renegotiation with foreign oil companies, the introduction of the
concept of Kazakh content, the 2010 Law on Subsoil Use, the creation of
the NFRK and joining EITI.
e opposition media have occasionally voiced the need for strength-
ening civil society control over natural resource use and for greater
transparency, accountability and management of the petroleum sector.
Oil revenue distribution and the role of NFRK have been important
topics discussed in these media. Peter Svoik, an expert and representa-
tive of the opposition party Azat, noted at a roundtable organized by
Radio Azattyq (2010) that the transparency of oil production and rev-
enues is limited and that they are ‘legally intransparent’ given the nature
of the PSAs signed in the 1990s (cited in Radio Azattyq 2010). Oraz
Jandosov, Director of the RAKURS Center for Economic Analysis,
mentioned that ‘we gathered one million signatures in 2003 to make all
the oil and gas contracts transparent and publicly accessible. So far we
have not heard back [from the government]’ (Jandosov cited in Radio
Azattyq 2010). According to Galib Yefendiyev, Regional Coordinator of
the Revenue Watch Institute, the lack of clarity on the calculation of the
share ofrevenue to be returned to the oil-producing regions is the main
cause of social tension in these parts of the country (cited in Forbes.kz
2014).
Our impression is that the local population tends to take a pessimistic
view of political opposition, seeing opposition voices as undermining
R. Vakulchuk and I. Overland
149
the country’s stability. Similarly, Makhmutova and Akhmetova (2011,
49) argue that Kazakh citizens tend to take a sceptical view of civil soci-
ety and NGOs. To understand the attitude of the Kazakh population,
we must take into account the historical and geographical context: the
painful unravelling of the Soviet industrial economy and the repeated
revolutions and upheavals in other post-Soviet countries. Particularly
salient has been the precedent set by neighbouring Kyrgyzstan, which is
ethnically and linguistically closely related to Kazakhstan. Kyrgyzstan’s
two revolutions and one violent ethnic conict during the post-Soviet
period left the country poor and unstable and do not encourage emula-
tion. Add to that the presence of conict-ridden countries such as
Afghanistan and Tajikistan in the neighbourhood, and the people of
Kazakhstan have strong incentives for endorsing stability over other val-
ues. e two largest neighbours, China and Russia, set examples of how
it is possible to achieve stability and economic growth with limited
democracy, further reinforcing the impression that stability is more
important than free speech (Overland et al. 2010, 93; Overland and
Torjesen 2010, 136; Anker etal. 2010).
Think-Tanks andResearch Institutes
Local think-tanks and research institutes in Kazakhstan have not inu-
enced the public debate on a regular basis. ere are two possible rea-
sons for this. First, Kazakhstan lacks a tradition of drawing on the work
of social scientists and experts to inform public debate. Second, in their
reports, Kazakh researchers tend to provide mainly descriptive analysis
of the petroleum industry, oering few insights on how governance of
the sector could be improved. We should note, however, that their
research is also hampered in the rst place by lack of information from
the government and oil companies operating in Kazakhstan. One
example of this is the problems with data availability experienced by
NRGI.
As there are not many Kazakh think-tanks, there is only limited inde-
pendent expertise. Four main think-tanks review developments in the
country’s petroleum sector, but they do so only irregularly. e rst one is
9 Kazakhstan: Civil Society andNatural Resource Policy...
150
the Institute of Political Solutions (IPR), which existed in 2009–2013
and was then transformed into the analytical group KIPR.It occasionally
organizes roundtable discussions on natural resource management and
conducts opinion polls. A major roundtable expert discussion was held in
2015 and assessed the eciency and transparency of the National Fund
(see KIPR 2015). While the main local experts took part in the event,
representatives of state agencies stayed away in spite of lengthy negotia-
tions with the organizers.
A second important think-tank is the Kazakhstan Investment
Protability Research Agency (AIRI). One of the main topics in its
reports is the resource curse. e director of AIRI, Kainar Kozhumov, has
regularly stressed the need to diversify the economy away from oil
(Kozhumov 2011).
A third relevant think-tank is the Public Policy Research Center
(PPRC), headed by Meruert Makhmutova, who is often interviewed by
the media and acts as a partner in international research projects. e
PPRC is viewed as a credible research institute, with a focus on extractive
industries, revenue transparency and NFRK (see, e.g. Makhmutova
2006).
A fourth think-tank is the research centre Sange. is think-tank lists
on its website all the studies it conducted between 1999 and 2014
(Sange 2017): of a total of 125 studies, only four dealt with natural
resource management. Whereas the government is one of the main
funders of most of Sange’s studies and reports, these four studies were
funded by international donors—exemplifying how contributions to
the public debate in Kazakhstan have been driven largely by interna-
tional donors.
With the partial exception of the analytical group KIPR, the contribu-
tions of local think-tanks and research centres to the debate are largely
donor-driven and feed public debate only sporadically. However, experts
representing these think-tanks often appear in the media to comment on
various issues related to the petroleum sector.
In many ways, international research organizations have been more
active contributors to the debate than have local think-tanks. For
instance, the Soros Foundation and the International Institute for
Environment and Development (IIED) have studied the structure of
R. Vakulchuk and I. Overland
151
PSAs, governance and transparency in the oil and gas sector and
actively collaborated with local researchers (see, e.g. Ahmadov etal.
2012; Ospanova etal. 2013; Ospanova and Cotula 2015). ey have
also held regular roundtable meetings and disseminated their ndings
(see, e.g. IIED 2012). e Soros Foundation in Kazakhstan has oper-
ated both as an NGO and a think-tank in Kazakhstan since 1995 and
has organized research and capacity-building activities aimed at raising
awareness about natural resource management (Wilson and Van Alstine
2014, 41).
ese and other international NGOs have contributed to the public
debate on natural resource management in Kazakhstan. While it is di-
cult to assess the real scope of their impact on the formation of public
opinion, it is evident that they have provided important input for legisla-
tion and helped turn local think-tanks into emerging actors.
Political Parties andTrade Unions
One political party, Nur Otan, dominates the political agenda. It holds
three quarters of the seats in the Parliament and mostly promotes ocial
state policies on natural resource issues. Other parties hardly participate
in the debate. In any case, the role of Parliament is limited. According to
the Natural Resource Governance Institute, legislative oversight of petro-
leum sector management is limited, as ‘the president maintains consider-
able power over the extractive sector’ (NRGI 2013). Political parties are
widely viewed as dysfunctional, and society remains convinced that they
can hardly bring change (Isaacs 2011).
Also trade unions in Kazakhstan are weakly developed. Tripartite
agreements are widespread, but real decision-making processes between
the state, employers and trade unions take place elsewhere. State–civil
society dialogues ‘are often treated as a proforma instrument’ by the state
and carry little content (Makhmutova and Akhmetova 2011, 10). Since
1991, there have been serious labour conicts in the following extractive
companies: ArcelorMittal, Karazhanbasmunai, Kazakhmys, Kazchrome,
KSP Steel, Petro Kazakhstan, Tengizchevroil and Uzenmunaigaz. e
case of Zhanaozen stands out as one of the most critical in Kazakhstans
9 Kazakhstan: Civil Society andNatural Resource Policy...
152
post-Soviet period. When the local authorities failed to solve a labour
dispute, this ultimately led to bloodshed and the killing of 16 workers in
December 2011. A key factor in the conict was the weak interaction
and poor coordination between central and local government, between
state authorities and trade unions in the petroleum sector, and the
excessive use of force on the part of the authorities (Human Rights Watch
2012; General Prosecutor 2012).
Ocial trade unions have generally proven unable to resolve labour
conicts in the petroleum sector. Workers have little trust in trade unions
and their ability to protect workers’ rights (Satpayev and Umbetaliyeva
2015, 128). We must therefore conclude that the political parties and
trade unions play only a minor role in the discourse on petroleum sector
management in Kazakhstan.
International Organizations andForeign
Investors
e limited role of local civil society has been partly compensated for
by Kazakhstans exposure to international best practices through
interaction with international organizations.2 e government has
relied on reform strategies proposed by these international organiza-
tions: for instance, the structural economic reforms of the 1990s were
elaborated mainly by hired senior economists from the World Bank
and the IMF.In their reports, international organizations have criti-
cized the government for overdependence on natural resources and
limited success in diversifying the economy away from oil (ADB
2013; IMF 2010).
International organizations have promoted liberal economic reforms,
the adoption of best international practices, improved transparency in
natural resource management, green economy and inclusive growth.
e Kazakh government has often been keen to show its commitment,
hoping to meet expectations so as to ensure continued access to capital
and convey a positive international image for the country. e example
of EITI is illustrative. After Kazakhstan was awarded EITI-compliant
R. Vakulchuk and I. Overland
153
status in 2013, the World Bank ocially welcomed the country’s new
status and pledged to further support Kazakhstan’s reforms (2013).3
Other examples of international inuences on Kazakhstan include the
setting up of the NFRK drawing on the Norwegian model and the
adoption of e-government based on the success stories of Estonia,
Singapore and other Asian and Western countries. e introduction of
e-government enhanced transparency in ocial communication
between society, business and the government, as assessed by representa-
tives of foreign petroleum companies operating in Kazakhstan
(Vakulchuk 2016, 1190).
Like international organizations, international oil companies have
played an active role in shaping and inuencing natural resource manage-
ment, though in a less visible way (Ostrowski 2010, 149), especially in
the early 1990s. Interestingly, societal expectations towards the state are
deemed to be low in Kazakhstan, whereas expectations towards foreign
investors are high, especially in the oil-rich parts of the country (Luong
and Weinthal 2010). e strengthening of the local content regime in
2010 further reinforced these expectations.
In Kazakhstan, the main point of contact between the government
and the big international oil companies is the Foreign Investors
Council (FIC) established in 1998.4 For the companies, FIC is an
important platform for inuencing oil and gas legislation. However,
we have not found any indication that civil society representatives par-
ticipate in FIC meetings. Moreover, the establishment of a main point
of contact has been criticized as creating opportunities for corruption
(Tsalik 2003, 138). us, the FIC may help to enhance communica-
tion between the government and international oil companies, but it
contributes little to public transparency in Kazakhstans petroleum sec-
tor and constitutes a missed opportunity for involving the broader
public.
We see that international organizations have sometimes comple-
mented, sometimes substituted for local civil society actors in Kazakhstan.
Because local civil society has been passive, international organizations
have in many cases initiated and advanced public debate on natural
resource management (see also Fjaestad and Overland 2012).
9 Kazakhstan: Civil Society andNatural Resource Policy...
154
NFRK
As the National Fund of the Republic of Kazakhstan (NFRK) is one of
the topics that have been discussed most widely in the debate on natural
resource management in Kazakhstan, it merits a detailed presentation
here. In its reform processes, Kazakhstan has been trying to learn from
the successful experiences of other countries (Tsalik 2003; Vakulchuk
2014). Table 9.1 shows examples of countries that have served as role
models for Kazakhstan in various areas. e NFRK was established to
improve petroleum revenue management and stabilize scal policy by
drawing on the experiences of other sovereign wealth funds, especially
the Norwegian Government Pension Fund (ESMAP 2006).
According to the IMF (2010, 20), the purpose of the NFRK ‘is to
reduce the economic impact of volatile oil prices and serve as a vehicle
for saving part of Kazakhstan’s oil income for future generations’. It is
regulated by the National Bank of Kazakhstan on behalf of the govern-
ment, with ultimate decision-making power held by President
Nazarbayev. All the Fund’s capital is invested abroad. Direct taxes from
the oil sector (except for taxes going to local budgets) are the main source
of NFRK assets (IMF 2010). e Fund’s assets grew from USD 0.96 bil-
lion in 2001 to almost USD 65.5 billion in 2015 (Sovereign Wealth
Center 2017).
Table 9.1 Kazakh institutions and sources of inspiration
Presidential system/Parliament France
State and economic models China, Hong Kong, Russia, Singapore, South
Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab
Emirates
Public administration EU model, Singapore
Tax system South Korea, the USA
Pension system Chile
Sovereign wealth fund Japan, Norway, Singapore
Construction and infrastructure Finland, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates
Innovation policy Finland
Banking and finance industry Arab countries, Germany
Education Finland, Germany, South Korea, the USA
Agriculture Russia, the USA
Source: Vakulchuk 2014, 181
R. Vakulchuk and I. Overland
155
From the outset, the Fund has not been fully transparent (Tsalik 2003).
According to ESMAP (2006, 88):
[T]he lack of full transparency for the fund prevents informed public dis-
cussion on its performance and use. e partial and occasional release of
data on the size of the fund through the Kazakhstan News Bulletin and the
summary of the audit and annual report give some information on its
workings, but the lack of detail and regular publication is in sharp contrast
to the situation for other oil funds.
A 2010 survey conducted by the Central Asian Fund for Democracy
Development revealed that 63% of the population believed that the
Fund’s reserves were used ineciently and 58% felt that data accessibility
was a major issue. Only 10% of those surveyed were satised with the
information provided by state agencies on the Fund’s operations (Satpayev
and Umbetaliyeva 2015, 124). On the Linaburg-Maduell Transparency
Index of sovereign wealth funds (SWFI 2012), NFRK is ranked low,
scoring only two out of ten points. According to Erlan Smailov (KIPR
2015), who heads the think-tank KIPR, ‘there is an information and
responsibility decit when it comes to the fund’s activity and operations’.
According to Bayan Shapagatova, a local consultant who worked for
more than ten years at the National Bank of Kazakhstan:
By comparison, the Kuwait National Fund has ve members in the Board
of Directors and three of them represent the private sector. Six out of nine
members of the Board at the South Korean sovereign wealth fund also
represent the private sector. In our situation, the commission that controls
the fund’s management consists only of state sector representatives. ere
is a conict of interests and no independent expertise. We need to include
more representatives of the private sector in it. is should push for more
transparency. (KIPR 2015)
Svetlana Ushakova, another participant in the expert discussion orga-
nized by KIPR (2015), pointed out that the current concept of the NFRK
does not include civil society representatives. And yet, despite substantial
transparency gaps, the fund remains an important instrument for the
government to uphold stability in the country. For example, during the
9 Kazakhstan: Civil Society andNatural Resource Policy...
156
economic crisis of 2008, the government used NFRK assets to save those
parts of the economy that were hardest hit: the nancial sector and real
estate market. is served to pre-empt potential social unrest and bol-
stered public support for government policy and the Fund (Kemme
2012; Inform.kz 2016).
Conclusions
e scope of the public debate and its impact on decision-making in
natural resource management on Kazakhstan remains limited. It is
shaped largely by a narrow circle of experts and NGOs, with most initia-
tives supported and promoted by international organizations. e con-
tributors to policymaking on natural resources in Kazakhstan, ranked by
their role in the public debate, are as follows: (1) the state, (2) interna-
tional organizations, (3) foreign investors, (4) NGOs, (5) think-tanks
and research institutes, (6) mass media and (7) political parties and trade
unions.
Civil society has had little role in the management of natural resources
in Kazakhstan. It has remained stunted, with scant experience in promot-
ing its interests vis-à-vis the state. Public discussion of natural resource
issues has been largely government-driven. Most government actions are
tacitly accepted by society. e fact that Kazakhstan made a notable step
forwards, from having a collapsed economy in the 1990s to becoming an
emerging regional economic player with improved social and economic
performance in the 2000s, helped legitimize the opacity of government
policy on natural resource issues. As long as natural resource manage-
ment seems eective in economic and social terms, it is supported by the
broader public, which puts a premium on stability. On the other hand, as
argued by Satpayev and Umbetaliyeva (2015), since 2010 the population
has become increasingly willing to question existing natural resource gov-
ernance arrangements.
Kazakhstans exposure to international sources of inuence, coupled
with the activities of international organizations and donors, has served
as a partial substitute for weak civil society. ey have motivated the gov-
ernment to adopt best practices in natural resource management and
R. Vakulchuk and I. Overland
157
have contributed greatly to the establishment of the semblance of an
NGO sector. ey have triggered some debate on critical issues of petro-
leum sector governance. Driven by the desire to boost its international
reputation, the government has refrained from hindering international
NGOs from entering and operating in the country.
e contrast between Kazakhstan and another Turkic, Central Asian
country—Turkmenistan—is worth noting. Whereas both score low on
international indices of democracy, free speech and corruption,
Kazakhstan has managed to maintain signicantly higher standards in
itsnatural resource management. One important dierence between the
two countries and their natural resource management is that Kazakhstan
has shown far greater openness to the inuence of other countries and
international organizations.
Notes
1. More government representatives, MPs, oil and mining companies,
including Kazenergy (the association for oil and gas producers and service
providers for the energy sector in Kazakhstan) and the Association of
Mining Producers, were invited, as well as NGOs.
2. International organizations active in Kazakhstan include the Asian
Development Bank (ADB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development (EBRD), the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative
(EITI), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the International
Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the International
Monetary Fund (IMF), the Kazakhstan Revenue Watch (KRW) pro-
gramme organized by the Soros Foundation-Kazakhstan, the Organisation
for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Organization
for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the World Bank,
numerous UN agencies, and others.
3. As Sebnem Akkaya, World Bank Country Manager for Kazakhstan, has
noted: ‘Our interest in EITI is part of our overall governance strategy, and
in many countries, including Kazakhstan, the Bank works with govern-
ments on the EITI agenda as part of broader Bank-supported programs
on extractive industries reform, natural resource management, and good
governance/anti-corruption’ (cited in World Bank 2013).
9 Kazakhstan: Civil Society andNatural Resource Policy...
158
4. Only a few developing petro-states have managed to establish petroleum
associations that actually do lobbying—and Kazakhstan is one of them
(Luong and Weinthal 2010, 211; Vakulchuk 2014, 195).
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