Africa’s Great Lakes countries meet to identify concrete actions to curb the illegal exploitation and trade of natural resources in the region
Khartoum (The Sudan), 2 September 2021 - The Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), in partnership with the German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ), organized from 31 August to 2 September 2021, a workshop on natural resources in the Great Lakes region under the theme: “Taking Collective Actions to Achieve Peace and Development Integration in Africa’s Great Lakes region”. All three institutions were represented at the highest level, namely by Ambassador Huang Xia, UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region; Ambassador João Samuel Caholo, Executive Secretary of the ICGLR; and Thomas Terstegen, German Ambassador to The Sudan. The three-day workshop took place in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.
The overall objective of the meeting was to discuss coordinated actions with all stakeholders, to explore realistic options to curb the illicit exploitation and trade of natural resources, and to address the issue of financing illegal armed groups in the region.
Africa’s Great Lakes region has, for decades, been affected by conflict and political instability. Evidence points to the illicit exploitation and trade in natural resources as one of the enablers of this instability.
The ICGLR Protocol on the fight against the illegal exploitation of natural resources outlines the actions that Member States have agreed to take under the framework of the Regional Initiative against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources launched by the leaders of the region in 2010.
Following its Resolution 1291 (2000), the UN Security Council established a Panel of Experts to investigate the illegal exploitation and trade in the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and to identify potential links between natural resources and the ongoing conflict in eastern DRC.
In 2003, the Panel issued its first report concluding that "the flow of arms, the illegal exploitation of natural resources and the continuation of the conflict are inextricably linked.”
A responsible and transparent exploitation and trade in natural resources within and out of the region relies on constructive cooperation by all actors along the mineral supply chain. In this logic, the UN Security Council through its resolution 2502 (2019) renewed its call for collaboration between the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) and the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region to seek a political solution to tackle the cross-border flows of armed combatants and the illicit exploitation and trade in minerals. It is against this backdrop that the Office of the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes and the ICGLR partnered to organize this high-level workshop.
The workshop brought together over one hundred participants, including from the 12 ICGLR Member States (Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Cong o, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Zambia), the United Nations System, as well as regional and international development organizations and financial institutions.