Global Witness today called on the Afghan government and Parliament to strengthen the country’s proposed mining law to help ensure mining is a force for development in the country, rather than conflict and corruption. The call comes as Afghanistan’s Parliament sits to debate this crucial legislation.
In A Shaky Foundation? Analysing Afghanistan’s Mining Law, published today, Global Witness praises a number of positive aspects of the law, including a key transparency provision, but highlights several areas of concern. The most urgent of these are:
- The law lacks a provision prohibiting illegal armed groups, militias or members of the national army from benefiting from mining, and there is no requirement to consult with local communities over security;
- The law lacks safeguards against corruption in the bidding process for mining concessions;
- The law only states a requirement to publish the very largest mining contracts, raising fears that the government plans to reverse its widely-praised decision last year to allow public access to almost all mining contracts.
- The law does not require companies applying for mining licenses to publish their real, beneficial owners – a key way to prevent corruption and conflicts of interest.
“The opportunity to build a minerals sector around recognised principles of transparency and good governance, and the strongest possible protections against corruption and conflict, is one that Afghanistan can’t afford to miss,” said Dominic Smith, Afghanistan Campaign Leader for Global Witness. “Militias implicated in human rights abuses have already been profiting from chromite and other resources. Remaining gaps in the mining law need urgent attention in order to guard against abuse and the loss of much-needed revenue for the country.”
The report highlights other shortcomings in the proposed law, including provisions that appear to give companies an unlimited right to use water – potentially endangering thousands of livelihoods and creating a huge risk of local conflict – and dispute resolution and local employment clauses which could exclude local communities. The law also requires environmental safeguards and community development only after a license is granted, which means these issues risk not being considered in the bidding process.
The law has some positive aspects, including a requirement for companies to follow the reporting requirements of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, and to conduct Environmental and Social Impact Assessments – albeit after receiving a license.
“The real threat to minerals fuelling economic growth in Afghanistan is corruption and conflict, not transparency or community consultation,” said Smith. "The Afghan government should take this chance to create world-class governance for a world-class mining sector.”
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Note to Editors: An English language version of the law and copies of the report are available below.