There have been a number of worrying signals - including a recent New York Times article - that the Trump administration intends to press for new mining contracts for Western companies in Afghanistan, without first ensuring proper governance reform to the country’s mining sector. Global Witness campaigners explain why pursuing deals in these conditions could be very risky both for American interests and for ordinary Afghans:
“Any decision to press ahead with mining in highly insecure areas, at a time when the Afghan government has openly acknowledged that it lacks the ability to oversee existing projects, would be extremely risky. Without substantial governance reforms and the political will from both the Afghan government and its American backers to implement them, deals like this proposed one will likely backfire, possibly creating even more infighting in the Afghan government. The sense of urgency should instead be applied to putting in place this foundation of absolutely basic protections and transparency measures that are still missing 16 years after the fall of the Taliban. The good news is that some of these are relatively low cost, could be accomplished in weeks or months with the right political will, and have already been committed to by the Afghan government." - Stephen Carter, Afghanistan Campaign Leader, Global Witness
“Imagine if an American soldier dies at the hands of the Taliban who bought their weapons with money paid to them by a US company. Many Afghan mining sites are in areas held by insurgent groups and a variety of warlords. As the previous years of combat have amply demonstrated, even a large security company would have difficulty holding mining sites and the roads into and out of them, even with the assistance of Afghan security forces – and there is a danger the costs could undermine whatever revenues the government could hope to make. The only alternative would be to follow a practice already common in Afghanistan of paying whichever group holds the territory. In this case, it would mean American companies would be directly paying the Taliban." - Jodi Vittori, Senior Policy Advisor, Global Witness
Notes to editor:
Spokespeople are available for interview upon request.
You might also like
Extractives Policy Briefing for 2016 Brussels Conference on Afghanistan
Steps the Afghan government and international donors can take at the 2016 Brussels Conference on Afghanistan to help Afghanistan avoid the resource curse
War in the Treasury of the People: Afghanistan, lapis lazuli and the battle for mineral wealth
The Taliban and other armed groups are earning up to 20 million dollars per year from Afghanistan’s lapis mines, the world’s main source of the brilliant blue lapis lazuli stone.
Corruption has been a major driver of both conflict and poverty in Afghanistan.