Great Lakes Experts Consult On Natural Resources Governance

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In short
The smuggling of illicit gold from Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan is becoming an issues of concern amidst reports that is being used to finance the armed conflicts in the region.

The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) countries have been tasked to make public production and export statistics of natural resources in order to tackle trade illicit minerals like gold.

Experts from the region meeting in Nairobi this week also urged countries like Uganda and its neighbors to harmonize taxation regimes at the provincial, national and regional levels, especially on the trade of gold.

The smuggling of illicit gold from Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan is becoming an issues of concern amidst reports that is being used to finance the armed conflicts in the region. 

They also suggested that all companies in the natural resources sector are audited and that financial records are available in the public domain.

They noted monitoring finances from natural resources could contribute to the implementation of the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region, and the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for DRC and the region.

The meeting under the auspices of  the Office of the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for the Great Lakes on the request by Defence Ministers from the Great Lakes Region and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The consultations were officially opened and closed by Pierre Kangudia Mbayi, Minister of State in charge of Budget of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Dan Kazungu, Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Mining of the Republic of Kenya.

Other high-ranking officials like Executive Secretary of International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), Zachary Muburi-Muita, and the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region, Said Djinnit attended.
 
Ministers of Defence from the region in October 2016 endorsed the idea of natural resource governance as part as of the Regional Oversight Mechanism summit of the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework.

Participants underscored the responsibility of member states, companies and individuals to ensure compliance with international standards and agreements related to natural resources.

They also agreed on the importance of raising awareness at the international level, including in end-user countries, of this matter.

International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) has since 2006 been running a regional Initiative against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources (RINR)

The Great Lakes Region is a frequently cited example of the paradox of plenty. On the one hand, it disposes of a substantial amount of natural resources which are in great demand on the global market.

The abundance of natural resources according to the experts has not yet been transformed into inclusive socio-economic well being.

The key problem of this predicament according to experts is the missing linkage between the supply chain of natural resource and the formal economy of the ICGLR Member States.

They says the exploitation and trade of natural resources  within the region is too frequently conducted illegally with wealth deriving from them often financing rebel activities.

During the consultation, 65 experts and stakeholders from Africa, Europe, North America and Australia, including civil society organizations and the mining industry, government institutions, donors, and UN agencies exchanged best practices.

They agreed on prioritized recommendations focusing on sustainable and transparent management and governance of natural and renewable resources.

Member states, companies and individuals were tasked to ensure compliance with international standards and agreements related to natural resources.

Participants committed to strengthen their partnerships to curb the illegal exploitation and trade of natural resources.

Participants agreed on the need to strengthen regional cooperation among the judiciaries, police and customs services to address the illegal trade of natural resources, including through support to the Great Lakes Judicial Cooperation Network.