A coalition of 29 Afghan and international civil society organisations wrote to Afghan President Hamid Karzai to urge him to use his influence to strengthen the draft mining law then before the lower house of the Afghan parliament - rather than passing the law by decree during the parliamentary recess. The letter asked the President to ensure the law was changed to include:
- a requirement for a clear and transparent bidding process, to maximise the value of Afghanistan’s natural assets and encourage deals with reputable companies in the sector, and with criminal sanctions for actions by government officials to favour one company over another;
- publication of mining contracts and related documents (putting the decision to publish contracts contained in Presidential Decree 45 of 2012 into law); publication of the real, beneficial ownership of mining companies, to ensure that improper deals cannot be hidden behind shell companies;
- a formal ban on armed groups being involved in mining or the minerals trade, to help prevent Afghanistan ever falling into a situation like that in eastern Congo, where small armed groups have fought for decades fuelled by natural resources;
- a requirement that an appropriate level of consultation with local communities, and assessments of the environmental and social impact of a project, should be carried out before a license is granted, even if it is not fully detailed.
- stronger mechanisms to resolve conflicts with local communities – which will help prevent disruption of mining revenues and reduce support for the insurgency;
The letter was ultimately successful in preventing the law passing by decree, although several months later, the other changes remain to be made.
For a copy of the letter, see here.