DR of Congo: Annan calls for global action against exploiting natural resources for war

DR of Congo: Annan calls for global action against exploiting natural resources for war

The United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, today called on the international community to stop countries from exploiting natural resources to pursue war aims or from using it as a pretext for conflict.

The United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, today called on the international community to stop countries from exploiting natural resources to pursue war aims or from using it as a pretext for conflict.

Asked by reporters about a recent report by a panel of UN experts on the illegal exploitation of natural resources and other forms of wealth in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Secretary-General said that in such situations, "war profiteering develops and there is no interest in peace."

The report recommends financial restrictions on 29 companies based in the DRC, Belgium, Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe and South Africa, as well as 54 highly placed persons, including Augustin Katumba Mwanke, Minister of Presidency in the DRC, Kibassa Maliba, a former Minister of Mines, and Mwana Nanga Mawapanga, a DRC Ambassador in Harare.

Mr. Annan said the report had raised "many serious questions" that will have to be looked into by the Security Council, the international community and the governments in the region, and called for an investigation of the companies identified in the report.

Asked what responsibility foreign governments had in protecting the DRC from the corporations named in the report, Mr. Annan said, "I would hope that there would be some way of putting an embargo on exports from there, either through a direct ban, or governments taking responsibility for companies that are registered in their countries to ensure that they did not behave irresponsibly."

Responding to criticism by Rwanda, whose senior officials had described the group’s report as lacking in credibility, panel Chairman Mahmoud Kassem told a press briefing at UN Headquarters in New York that every bit of information obtained and used by the panel was corroborated.

Mr. Kassem said the panel's recommendations were "an essential part of what it envisions to be a holistic and viable process." The Chairman said his panel had recommended that the international community emphasize a peace dividend in the form of economic incentives for the DRC and the Great lakes countries involved in the conflict.