From 7-12 July 2003, President Bush will visit five African countries (Botswana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda) to demonstrate the United States’ commitment to helping the continent address its most pressing problems, including regional conflicts, economic development and promotion of democracy. Global Witness believes that if the US is serious about tackling conflict and human rights abuses and promoting development, the misappropriation of Africa’s natural resources must be top of Bush’s agenda.
Timber, oil, diamonds and other natural resources have financed brutal civil wars in Africa, and currently fund ongoing conflicts in Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Recent evidence uncovered by Global Witness also shows that diamonds have been used by al Qaeda to finance its activities and launder money, threatening not just regional but global security. Combating the trade in conflict diamonds is critical to maintaining consumer confidence in diamonds, Botswana’s main export earner.2
“I commend President Bush for supporting the recent renewal of sanctions on Liberia, and adding timber to the list of conflict resources to be embargoed, but his administration is still dragging its feet on fully implementing the Kimberley Process to tackle conflict diamonds,” said Corinna Gilfillan, Campaigner with Global Witness.3
Fighting corruption is also essential for development in the many African countries dependent on oil, mining and gas revenues. Although the US government has signalled its support for measures by the G8 and the UK-led Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) to ensure revenues from resource extraction are more transparently managed, it has not yet done anything to implement these commitments.4
President Bush must use his trip to take a leadership role in encouraging African governments and multinational companies to disclose payments made for access to natural resources owned by the citizens of producer countries. “Transparency is the key to creating accountable government and fighting corruption. Given the importance of African oil to US markets, Bush must push Africa to come clean on the money generated by natural resources,” said Simon Taylor, Director of Global Witness.5 “At the moment, the opposite is happening. US companies close to the administration appear to be mired in allegations of millions of dollars of financial impropriety in Nigeria and elsewhere.”
Global Witness is calling on President Bush to take concrete action on Africa by:
· Meeting the 31 July 2003 deadline for the US to fully implement the Kimberley Process and pushing for regular, impartial monitoring.
· Taking measures to prevent diamonds from funding terrorism, including effective implementation of anti-money laundering initiatives under the USA Patriot Act.
· Rapidly implementing disclosure of oil, mining and gas revenues through the EITI.
· Calling on NEPAD to mainstream transparent management of revenues from natural resources.
For more information contact: Corinna Gilfillan on +44 (0) 207272 6731 or +44 (0)795 0049141; for transpareny Simon Taylor on +44 (0) 207272 6731 or +44 (0) 7957 142121.
1. Global Witness focuses on the links between the exploitation of natural resources and the funding of conflict and corruption. It is non-partisan in all its countries of operation. Global Witness has been co-nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for its work in uncovering how diamonds have funded civil wars across Africa. Global Witness’ recent statement on transparency in the extractive industries is available at www.globalwitness.org.
2. Diamonds constitute 33% of Botswana’s GDP and account for 79% of export earnings.
3. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, launched in January 2003, requires governments and the diamond industry to implement import/export control regimes on rough diamonds to prevent conflict diamonds from fuelling conflicts and human rights abuses. The KPCS was negotiated by governments, civil society organisations and the diamond trade, in response to a civil society campaign against the trade in conflict diamonds. Governments have until 31 July 2003 to pass laws and regulations to implement the scheme. The Kimberley Process urgently needs to be strengthened to include regular, independent monitoring of all national diamond control systems.
4. The G8 Declaration advocates disclosure of payments made by extractive companies, and for revenues received by governments in the oil, mining and gas sector worldwide as urgent. Disclosure is a vital step to ensure citizens of resource-rich-but-poor countries can begin to hold their governments accountable for management of revenues earned from ‘their’ natural resources. The EITI also envisages disclosure of extractive company’s net payments in all the countries in which they operate, which will be reconciled with what the government reports as received to improve management and transparency.
5. By the end of the decade, Sub-Saharan Africa will account for 25% of US oil imports.
Press Release / July 4, 2003