“The illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Great Lakes Region – How to translate the ongoing positive regional momentum into new options for conflict prevention, management and reform” – New York 15 July 2020
The illegal exploitation of natural resources has been recognized as one of the main underlying causes and effects of conflict in the Great Lakes Region. In the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the illegal exploitation of gold and coltan has fueled conflict for more than 20 years, involving a wide variety of national, regional and international state and non-state actors. (…)
This Arria aims to reflect on the following dynamics in the gold and coltan sectors:
1. On a macro-economic level, the trade in gold and coltan remains an important source of revenue for state and non-state actors. The informal, illicit or illegal trade in these minerals impedes further stabilization and consolidation of the state. Participants will be invited to reflect on ways to improve transparency in the trade of gold and coltan, including through the increased involvement of the World Bank and the IMF. In order to disincentivize smuggling, regional governments and their partners may want to examine the desirability of the regional standardization of tariffs.
2. From a regional perspective, the good neighbourly relations and the foreseen development of a new UN regional strategy for the Great Lakes offer unique possibilities, which should be fully seized to capitalize on the ongoing positive momentum. Discussions that could inform the development of the regional strategy, will include, amongst others: (1) the benefits of regional cooperation on gold and coltan in the trade and finance sectors, (2) opportunities for further regional engagement with anti-money laundering bodies and (3) initiatives by other key players such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
3. The private sector remains crucial. Business entities can either fund conflict or promote the use of due diligence standards, corporate social responsibility (CSR), environmentally friendly mining and responsible supply-chain sourcing. This begs the question as to: (1) which best practices should be observed in the gold- and coltan-mining sectors and (2) whether any cross-referencing of applicable legislative or regulatory frameworks and initiatives (OECD, ICGLR, etc.) would add value in the future.
4. The Congolese people should be the ultimate beneficiary of any initiative to counter the illegal exploitation of their country’s natural resources. Both directly, in view of a gradually regained peace dividend but also indirectly, due to increased state revenue supporting improved social services.
• Mauricio Villafuerte, Mission Chief – DRC, International Monetary Fund: economic contribution of minerals (including gold and coltan) in the DRC and the region, the fiscal regime for the mining sector and subnational revenue-sharing, means to increase transparency and accountability.
● Rigobert Minani Bihuzo, Directeur de recherche – Centre d’Etudes pour l’Action Sociale: focus on the impact of artisanal mining, conflict minerals trafficking and armed group activity on the people of the eastern DRC and recommendations for how to promote peacebuilding economic activity instead.
● Huang Xia, Special Envoy of the Secretary General for the Great Lakes Region: a holistic approach to threat the exploitation and illegal traffic of natural resources with emphasis on the whole value chain, en aval and en amont. Update of regional cooperation.
● Joel Sherman, Senior Director for Compliance and Sustainability – Kemet Electronics: focus on due diligence, corporate social responsibility and sustainable mining practices with focus on the coltan sector for the electronics industry.
● Pascal Nyembo Muyumba, Directeur général – Centre d’Evaluation d’Expertise et de Certification des Substances Minérales précieuses et semi-précieuses: exploitation of gold and coltan in Eastern DRC, challenges and perspectives.
Briefers are expected to make brief remarks (max. 5 minutes) followed by an interactive discussion with the Security Council members. Additional remarks by UN Member States, Observers and civil society will be welcomed. The videoconference will be open to attendance by other UN Member States, Observers, and UN entities.