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Great Lakes Countries Want Action On Illicit Natural Resources Exploitation

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Africa’s Great Lakes region has, for decades, been affected by conflict and political instability. Evidence confirms that the illicit exploitation and trade of natural resources remain one of the main causes of this instability.
02 Sep 2021 18:02
Poaching and other widlife-related crimes geenerate financing for conflicts in countries like DRC


Countries in the Great Lakes region has agreed on measure to curb the illicit trade and exploitation in the region’s natural resources.

A two-day high level meeting in Khartoum Sudan said negatives forces are using financing from wildlife trafficking and illicit exploitation of resources to fuel conflict.

The workshop hosted by the Office of the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for the Great Lakes region had participants from 12countries including Uganda.

Other countries included Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Zambia.

The workshop themed “Taking Collective Actions to Achieve Peace and Development Integration in Africa’s Great Lakes region”

There is growing concern within the region about illicit financial flows related to wildlife and natural resources like timber and minerals. Africa’s Great Lakes region has, for decades, been affected by conflict and political instability.

Evidence confirms that the illicit exploitation and trade of natural resources remain one of the main causes of this instability.

The illegal mining and smuggling of high-value minerals known as the 3Ts, i.e., tantalum ore (coltan), tin ore (cassiterite), and tungsten ore (wolframite), as well as gold, contribute to financing armed groups and sustaining criminal networks, thus fueling conflict, and exacerbating tension among States.  

Executive Secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, João Samuel Caholo said the governments had demonstrated political leadership by adopting the Regional Initiative against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources in 2010 in Lusaka, Zambia.

The initiative was intended to break the link between mineral resources and financing of negative forces. He said there is a need to cascade this political goodwill to expedite the implementation of the Regional Initiative.

“As a region, we need to take stock of the progress and challenges in the implementation of the Regional Initiative on Natural Resources and seek sustainable regional solutions for the advancement of the Pact for Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region,” he added.

The Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for the Great Lakes region, Huang Xia said the region should seize the recent momentum towards enhanced cooperation to accelerate the successful implementation of the ICGLR Regional Initiative against the Illicit Exploitation of Natural Resources.

“ To achieve this, a holistic approach is required that involves all stakeholders along the value chain – upstream and downstream - with the common objective of strengthening compliance with regional and international standards.” Said Xia

Recently, the Great Lakes region has witnessed an increase in high-level diplomacy and efforts to strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation.

Participants at the Khartoum workshop on Thursday called for strengthening the implementation of the ICGLR Regional Initiative against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources.

They proposed that the ICGLR Executive Secretariat and the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes region undertake high-level political advocacy with a view to enhancing ownership of the Regional Initiative on Natural Resources (RINR) and to raise awareness among transit and destination countries of their contribution to these ongoing efforts.

Emphasis was also placed on strengthening the fight against impunity of natural resources-related crimes.