On 31st March the UN Security Council will meet to renew the mandate of the UN mission in Congo (MONUC). Global Witness (1) calls on the UNSC to expand MONUC’s mandate to ensure they can take action to stop the continuing and devastating links between natural resource exploitation and conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which continues to threaten regional stability.
Furthermore on 29th March the Security Council will review Liberian diamond sanctions. Given the total lack of governmental control over diamond rich areas, and the current lack of deployment of United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) in these areas, Global Witness urges the Security Council to maintain diamond sanctions. Otherwise, regional stability will be jeopardised and the progress made thus far by the UN will be undermined.
The pursuit of the DRC’s vast natural resources including diamonds, gold, coltan, and cassiterite, has motivated much of the recent fighting in eastern DRC. Government troops, rebel groups and foreign allies alike have used natural resources to pay for their part of the war. “Natural resource exploitation plays a key role in the current instability in the DRC and the UN’s failure to adequately address this seriously undermines their effectiveness and jeopardises the country’s chance of peace” says Emily Bild, Global Witness (1)“The links between natural resources, the smuggling of arms and troop movements has been documented by numerous UN Expert Panel reports yet the Security Council is yet to extend MONUC’s mandate to monitor and protect natural resources or put a resource specialist on the panel of experts.”
The transitional government’s lack of capacity to control its resources or vast borders has led to smuggling of both natural resources and arms. Global Witness calls on the Security Council to tackle the illegal export of resources and the trafficking of weapons by monitoring airstrips in eastern and north-eastern DRC where persistent reports of arms smuggling and illegal resource exportation remain.
“The situation is similarly bleak in Liberia and lifting diamond sanctions would jeopardise Liberia’s fragile peace” says Alex Yearsley, Global Witness. “While the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) has passed laws and regulations to implement the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, these are redundant as there is no capacity to enforce the laws, implement essential diamond controls, or prosecute any transgressions.”
Global Witness investigations in Liberia uncovered a staggering lack of control of resource rich areas and border regions. While Global Witness welcomes the Security Councils inclusion of natural resources in the mandate of the UNMIL, their lack of any legal authority to arrest and stop illegal timber or diamond operations vastly undermines their effectiveness. This has led to a growing sense of impunity and a resurgence of illegal mining and logging activities. Global Witness recommends the immediate deployment of UNMIL troops to areas rich in natural resources, known smuggling routes and greater monitoring of Liberia’s traditionally porous borders.
(1) Global Witness is an investigative non-governmental organisation that focuses on the links between natural resource exploitation and conflict and was co-nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize. For more information on Liberia, see other Global Witness reports and briefing documents, available at www.globalwitness.org
(2) For more information on Global Witness’s work on DRC see “ Rush and Ruin: The devastating mineral trade in Southern Katanga, DRC” September 2004 and “Same old story: A background study on natural resources in the DRC” June 2004
(3) For more information on Global Witness’s work on Liberia see ‘Dangerous Liaisons: The ongoing relationship between Liberia’s natural resource industries, arms trafficking and regional insecurity’, December 2004; ‘Resource Curse or Cure?: Reforming Liberia’s governance and logging industry’, September 2004; ‘Liberia: Back to the future-What is the future of Liberia’s forests and its effect on regional peace?’, May 2004.
(4) For more information on Global Witness’s work on Diamonds see “The key to Kimberley” October 2004, “Rich man, poor Man”, October 2004
DRC Emily Bild on +44 (0)20 7561 6381
Diamonds in Liberia Alex Yearsley on +44 (0)207 561 6388
Press Release / March 18, 2005