NGOs WELCOME LONG AWAITED UN CONGO REPORT
SECURITY COUNCIL MUST INSIST ON STRONGER DIAMOND CONTROLS
Oct 23, 2002 - Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada today welcomed the Final Report of the UN Panel of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and called on the United Nations Security Council to strengthen systems aimed at halting the pillage of natural resources by corrupt officials, neighbouring countries and rogue elements in the private sector.
The UN report documents systemic and massive corruption in the diamond industry of the DRC, and the flagrant collusion of allied governments, notably Zimbabwe. It details the pillage of Congolese diamonds and other natural resources by Rwanda and Uganda. It describes systematic bribery, asset stripping, tax fraud, sanctions busting, embezzlement, extortion, the use of stock options as kickbacks and the diversion of state funds by groups that ‘closely resemble criminal organizations’. This has led to and fueled war, murder and human rights abuse. Children have been robbed of an education, families of their homes and their future. As many as 2.5 million more people have died since the beginning of this war than would have died had the war not occurred. Diamonds and other resources have been used for the benefit of the few, at very, very great cost to the many.
The Report recommends a travel ban for selected individuals, the freezing of personal assets and barring of some companies from access to banking facilities. It makes important recommendations regarding governance and reform of the natural resource sectors of Central African governments. It endorses the Kimberley Process which will establish an international certification system for rough diamonds by the end of 2002, and recommends that the system should have a permanently staffed secretariat.
Although the report calls for a general ongoing Security Council monitoring process in the Great Lakes region, it stops short of recommending regular independent monitoring of all national diamond control mechanisms, a control feature absent from the Kimberley system. Without such a monitoring mechanism, diamonds will always provide opportunities for corruption, bad governance and war.
Partnership Africa Canada and Global Witness call upon the Security Council to endorse the Kimberley Process, but to insist in doing so, that it create a regular, independent monitoring mechanism to review all national diamond control systems. Without this, the Kimberley system will be ineffective, and the Security Council will have to continue monitoring diamond-related conflict itself.
For further information, please contact
Global Witness: Alex Yearsley, Telephone 44 (0) 207 272 6731
Partnership Africa Canada: Ian Smillie, Telephone (613) 728-9725, or Susan Isaac (613) 237-6768
P.O. Box 6042
London N19 5WP
44 207 272 6731
Partnership Africa Canada
323 Chapel St.
Ottawa, ON K1N 7K2
Press Release / Oct. 23, 2002