Security Council condemns exploitation of natural resources in DR of Congo

Security Council condemns exploitation of natural resources in DR of Congo

The United Nations Security Council today condemned the illegal exploitation of natural resources by individuals, governments and armed groups involved in the current conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The Council took that action following a daylong debate involving almost 30 speakers who discussed the findings of a panel of experts investigating natural resource exploitation in the country. According to the panel's report, there was a direct link between the level of military activity in the DRC and the level of exploitation of resources, including coltan, cassiterite, timber, gold and diamonds.

Pointing to that link and to the terrible toll the conflict was taking on the people, economy and environment of the DRC, the Council emphasised the importance of a comprehensive approach to address all the root causes of the conflict. It also underlined its support for the 1999 Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement -- signed by the DRC, Zambia, Angola, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe and three rebel movements -- as the only viable solution to the crisis.

The Council also expressed its intention to examine and respond to the recommendations of the panel, which included the imposition of sanctions on those illegally exploiting the DRC's resources.

Presenting the report at the outset of the Council's deliberations, the panel's chairperson, Safiatu Ba-N'daw of Côte d'Ivoire, said that the massive looting had been going on in the DRC since 1998. The exploitation was carried out in a systematic and systemic fashion, taking the forms of confiscation, extraction, forced monopoly and price-fixing.

The leaders of the rebellion in the DRC and several regional leaders had directly profited from the looting, which had required preparation and organization, she said, noting that Rwanda's military was benefiting from the conflict, and that the economy of Uganda covered shortfalls from re-exportation of DRC resources. She added that several other countries, including Burundi, were also involved.

In that context, the Council urged the governments named in the report to conduct their own inquiries into the information, cooperate fully with the expert panel while ensuring necessary security for the experts, and take immediate steps to end the illegal exploitation by their nationals or others under their control. It also decided to ask Secretary-General Kofi Annan to extend the panel's mandate for a further three months so it could continue its investigations.