The Pole Institute convened representatives from diverse sectors of the Congolese society to share their analysis and prescriptions for addressing the de-criminalization of natural resources so that they can be a benefit to the Congolese people. Below are some excerpts geared towards the International community and the myriad efforts underway to address “conflict minerals.” Click here to download the full report.
In order to rehabilitate and decriminalize the mining industry, which according to [Aloys] Tegera, generates more than two-thirds of the revenue of North Kivu, it is necessary to, in the first place, work towards the re-establishment of the Congolese state. Any efforts by the international community to re-organize and legislate for the Congolese mining industry without taking this fundamental step into account risk failure, “unless, of course, the various lobbies have in mind a Congo without the Congolese, which would clearly be absurd.” Introduction page 3
A glaring lacuna in all these efforts is the lack of involvement of the Congolese people in seeking solutions to problems that face them in their own country, and Johnson argues that unless the Congolese people are brought “back in” all these international efforts will remain, for their originators, an exercise in creating the DRC after their own image. Introduction page 4
[Dominic] Johnson argues that because of this failure to include the Congolese people in crucial debate on ‘their’ issues, the international community has made a serious error of judgment in not recognizing that the situation in the east of the DRC goes beyond just a presumed squabble over minerals and raises fundamental questions of the structuring of state power which have to be taken into account by anyone hoping to work with the Congolese state in order to reform the Congolese mining sector. Introduction page 4
It is imperative that the various people and organizations of good will who are determined to ensure that the minerals of Kivu are ‘clean’ or conflict-free first work towards a definition of the basics necessary for the re-establishment of the Congolese state. Only when this is in place will the control of the mining industry be possible. The various initiatives will not be effective unless this basic condition is met. Aloys Tegera page 11
It is argued that important aspects of the regulatory model now emerging are partly based on an erroneous and outdated analysis of the conflict dynamics in Eastern Congo and that this is likely to weaken its effectiveness on the ground. The error consists in regarding competition around minerals as the main reason for conflicts in Eastern Congo and the establishment of government authority as the main mechanism for ending such competition and thereby the conflicts themselves. Reforms centered around strengthening the rôle of the state in Eastern Congo rather than the people will, we contend, exacerbate conflict instead of ending it, even if they succeed in curbing the excesses deriving from mineral trade. Dominic Johnson page 22
It is therefore perfectly possible, under the certification and due diligence schemes now on the table, to claim to have solved a decades-old conflict about control of a mineral-rich region and the control of the trade of its produce without addressing any of the issues involved, without resolving conflict on the ground and without contributing to peace and human security in a manner visible to the local population. Dominic Johnson page 43
However, beyond the possibility or even the impossibility of an international intervention to render the minerals of eastern DRC ‘clean’ for use, in other words conflict-free, it is important to emphasize that the criminalization of the mining industry underestimates the fact that more than two-thirds of the revenue of a province like North Kivu depends on mineral exports. Aloys Tegera page 8
Click here to find out more about the Pole Institute.
Also find here prescriptions for addressing Congo’s challenge from select Congolese groups:
Women scholars and activists
Remember to join us for Congo Week from October 17 – 23 as ordinary people throughout the globe join in solidarity with the people of the Congo in their quest to fulfill their enormous human and natural potential.
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