Briefing Document / March 22, 2007

Opportunity for the new Congolese government to fundamentally reform the natural resource sector

Global Witness today urged President Joseph Kabila and the new Congolese government to seize the momentum of the post-election period to implement fundamental reforms in the mining and forest sectors. 

In its Agenda for Reform in the Natural Resource Sector of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), published today, Global Witness recommends priority actions to the government of the DRC aimed at ending state looting and corruption, preventing natural resources from fuelling conflict and ensuring that natural resources contribute to development.

Global Witness welcomed the new government's commitments to increasing transparency and respect for the rule of law, outlined in the Contract of Governance (March-December 2007) published in February 2007.   

"The emphasis on justice and the fight against corruption in the Contract of Governance is an important step in the right direction," said Patrick Alley, Director at Global Witness.  "We are now calling on President Kabila and his newly-appointed government to demonstrate strong political will to ensure that these do not remain empty promises."

Global Witness's Agenda for Reform includes concrete recommendations in the following areas:

  • Ensuring transparency and fairness in mining contracts
  • Eradicating corruption and promoting transparency
  • Improving labour conditions of artisanal workers
  • Strengthening and extending administrative oversight and export control
  • Ensuring the sustainable management of the DRC's forests
  • Protecting civil society from intimidation, threats and harassment

Among other things, Global Witness is urging the government to initiate an independent review of mining contracts, including those signed during the transition (2003-2006), and to cancel or substantially renegotiate contracts which have been drawn up illegally or provide no significant benefits to the country.

The Agenda for Reform also highlights the urgency of preserving the DRC's forests.  It warns of the devastating consequences of uncontrolled logging, not only for the millions of people dependent on the forests for their livelihood but also in terms of the forests' importance to climate change.  

"Global Witness is calling on President Kabila to lead the world in the battle against climate change, to reject industrial-scale logging and preserve the DRC's forests for the Congolese people, for the global good and for the future," said Patrick Alley.

Highlighting the culture of impunity as one of the major obstacles to change, Global Witness called on the government to bring to justice those responsible for the large-scale looting and illegal exploitation of natural resources in the DRC over the last ten years and to challenge the view that certain individuals and companies are above the law.

Global Witness is also appealing to donor governments and international financial institutions to support these initiatives, in recognition of the fact that the DRC continues to suffer from a serious lack of capacity after ten years of conflict.