SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS CONTINUING EXPLOITATION OF
NATURAL RESOURCES IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Presidential Statement Emphasizes Connection between Ongoing Conflict,
Illegal Trafficking in Resources, Arms
NEW YORK, 19 November (UN Headquarters) -- Emphasizing the connection between illegal trafficking in natural resources and arms and ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Security Council this afternoon condemned the continuing exploitation of those resources in light of the final report by the relevant investigating Panel of Experts.
Adopting presidential statement S/PRST/2003/21, read out by its President, Ismael Abraao Gaspar Martins (Angola), the Council urged all States concerned, especially those in the region, to take steps to end those illegal activities by proceeding with their own investigations on the basis of the information accumulated by the Panel. It also encouraged States, trade organizations and specialized bodies to monitor the trade in raw materials from the region.
The prompt re-establishment of State authority throughout the country, as well as the installation of competent administration, would be decisive for ending the plundering of natural resources, the Council emphasized. It encouraged the international community to provide assistance to the Government of National Unity for that purpose.
Opening at 12:25 p.m., the meeting adjourned at 12:35 p.m.
Following is the full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2003/21:
“The Security Council,
“Takes note of the final report (S/2003/1027) of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the Panel), which concludes its work, and emphasizes the connection, in the context of the continuing conflict, between the illegal exploitation of natural resources and trafficking in raw materials and arms and the strategies of the belligerents, which the Panel has highlighted;
“Condemns the continuing illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, especially in the eastern part of the country, recalls that it has always categorically condemned these activities, which are one of the main elements perpetuating the conflict, and reaffirms the importance of stopping them by exerting, if need be, the necessary pressure on the armed groups, traffickers and all other actors involved;
“Urges all States concerned, especially those in the region, to take the appropriate steps to end these illegal activities, by proceeding with their own investigations, on the basis in particular of information and documentation accumulated by the Panel during its work and forwarded to governments, including through judicial means where possible, and, if necessary, to report to the Council;
“Reaffirms its determination to closely monitor compliance with the arms embargo imposed in resolution 1493 of 28 July 2003 and expresses its intention to address the problem posed by the illicit flow of weapons into the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including by considering the possible establishment of a monitoring mechanism;
“Emphasizes that the prompt re-establishment, by the Government of National Unity and Transition, of State authority throughout the territory, and the establishment of competent administrations to protect and control exploitation activities will constitute decisive elements for ending the plundering of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo;
“Encourages the Government of National Unity and Transition to implement the resolutions adopted in Sun City in April 2002 within the framework of the inter-Congolese dialogue;
“Encourages States, trade-sector organizations and specialized bodies to monitor the trade in raw materials from the region in order to put an end to the plundering of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, particularly within the framework of the Kimberley process;
“Encourages States, the international financial community and the international organizations concerned to provide the aid needed to the Government of National Unity and Transition and to cooperate closely with it in order to support the establishment of national institutions capable of ensuring that the natural resources are exploited transparently to effectively benefit the Congolese people;
“Expresses the wish that convening at an appropriate time an international conference on peace, security, democracy and development in the Great Lakes region of Africa will encourage the promotion of regional cooperation to the benefit of all States concerned;
“Expresses its intention to continue following closely this situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”
As the Security Council met to consider the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it had before it the final report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of that country, transmitted by a letter from the Secretary-General (document 1027 plus annexes) requested by the Council in resolution 1457 of 24 January 2003 in order to verify, reinforce and update the Panel’s earlier findings.
The report states that since the Panel’s last report of 16 October 2002, a number of significant political developments have taken place in the country, leading up to national unification in July 2003, as fighting intensified in the eastern part of the country, notably in the Ituri district. Illegal exploitation remains one of the main sources of funding for groups involved in perpetuating the conflict. Over the past year, such exploitation has been characterized by intense competition among the various political and military actors as they have sought to maintain, and in some cases expand, their control over territory. Overall, however, the transition of control from foreign forces to the armed groups has led to a temporary reduction in the volume of illegally exploited resources.
Though inquiries into the actual situation on the ground were hampered by fighting, the Panel has surmised that much of the resource exploitation of the current period has concentrated on gold and diamonds, especially in Ituri, other parts of Orientale province, North Kivu, South Kivu and Maniema.
The report states that the naming of companies, individuals and other parties in the annexes of the Panel’s last report (document S/2002/1146) elicited strong reactions from them. As part of the Panel’s extended mandate, it was authorized to work with the parties involved to achieve a resolution of the issues that led to their being listed, so that they could be removed from the annexes. Of the 157 parties involved, reactions from 119 were received. In a major logistical undertaking, the Panel met those parties and allocated them as much time as necessary to ensure a detailed dialogue. Not being a judicial body, the Panel has operated under a “reasonable standard” of proof, obtaining information, including documentation, entirely on a voluntary basis from a variety of sources, and drawing on its experience in the region and its expertise to evaluate information collected in an objective and fair manner.
In the annexes, the Panel recategorizes the parties into five categories: Category I lists those parties whose cases have been resolved, which means that the original issues that led to their being listed have been worked out to the satisfaction of the Panel and the individuals and companies concerned. Categories II, III and IV list those parties that have been referred to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) national contact points or governments for monitoring or follow-up. Category V includes those parties that did not react to the Panel’s report, having had the opportunity to do so.
According to the report, the Panel identified 12 States in the region through which goods originating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo may be passing. They include Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe, as well as other regional States, such as Angola, Central African Republic, Kenya, Mozambique, Congo, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia. Of those countries, only Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe responded to the Panel’s inquiries about measures being taken to assist in curbing illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The report says Uganda indicated that the establishment of the Porter Commission and the country’s role in the Great Lakes peace process represented the most significant steps it has taken. Rwanda pointed to the withdrawal of its forces from Congolese territory, and Zimbabwe said it was “in no position to take any measures…as neither itself nor its nationals were or are involved in any illegal deals” in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As for Zambia, no significant measures beside the existing border controls have been taken.
Regarding next steps, the report says the Panel has consistently highlighted the need for a strengthened national capacity to assume control and regulate the exploitation of Congolese national resources. Now that unification has taken place, it is time to pursue that objective. Along with the extension of government authority, a number of institutional reforms have to be initiated immediately with the goals of effective control of borders, strengthened auditing capacity, and a break-up of the large, State-owned mineral-resource enterprises. Full disclosure of revenues earned from natural resources is an important first step. Regional cooperation and confidence-building measures are also important.
The report also assesses the Panel’s impact on the creation of an understanding of the exploitation of natural resources, its linkages and its funding of armed groups. It also surveys the Panel’s impact on the situation on the ground, including the peace process. As part of lessons learned, it recommends some form of witness-protection programme for future panels, noting that to be effective, monitoring activities concerning arms and revenue flows in conflict situations should be institutionalized and cover longer periods.
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