The Security Council today resumed its consideration of a recent report submitted by a United Nations expert panel that investigated the illegal exploitation of natural resources and other forms of wealth in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Today's discussion comes after the report was presented to the Council on 24 October by the panel's chairman, Mahmoud Kassem. The report, which says that a ban on the export of raw materials originating from the DRC would be counterproductive, recommends punitive measures be taken to curb the illegal exploitation of the country's natural resources by criminal organizations and persons.
It also recommends that financial restrictions be placed on 29 companies based in the DRC, Belgium, Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe and South Africa, and that a travel ban and financial restrictions be imposed on 54 persons, including Augustin Katumba Mwanke, Minister of the Presidency in the DRC, Kibassa Maliba, a former Minister of Mines, and Mwana Nanga Mawapanga, a DRC Ambassador in Harare.
The list also includes the Speaker of Parliament in Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa Dambudzo, the DRC's Minister of National Security, Dan Munyuza, and Dennis Numbi Kalume, the Minister of Planning and Reconstruction in the DRC.
Noting that those involved in the illegal exploitation of natural resources did not have a strong incentive to alter the economic status quo, the report calls for "measures that address their fears of losing revenues." Such measures could only be effective if they took place simultaneously with a political process and should monitored by a UN body that would report any violations to the Council.
Representatives of some 20 countries participated in the Council's debate, including Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe, as well as Belgium and Denmark, which spoke on behalf of the European Union. Several speakers called for support of certain sections of the report and further investigation of others.
Mr. Kassem, who answered questions raised during the debate today, urged reconciliation in the DRC. “I humbly appeal to all the parties to the conflict, and to all who are willing, to consider the question that the people of the Great Lakes region – the farmers, the herders, the teachers, the students, the market women and shopkeepers, the mothers and fathers – have repeatedly asked: What has been gained in all these years of war?” he asked.
“I appeal to all who seek to build a foundation for a broader and lasting settlement to this conflict, and to finally turn this blood-stained page in the history of the Great Lakes region, to join hands and to enter together into what could be a genuinely new era, where peacebuilding will be the order of the day,” he said.
The Council is expected to meet next week to hold further informal consultations on a future course of action.