Regional Civil Society and Natural Resource Governance
Bringing an end to conflict minerals requires involving responsible local communities in monitoring the conditions under which minerals are traded and extracted. Monitoring mineral extraction effectively, however, is a skilled undertaking requiring experience and training. In addition, the local political environment must accept the legitimacy of community involvement in the provision of such oversight.
To facilitate these twin goals, PAC has supported the creation of a regional civil society platform, incorporating civil society organisations (NGOs) from DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda – the four core mineral production members of the ICGLR. Through this platform, PAC has worked to provide training on important aspects of monitoring including mine site inspections. Platform members themselves, meanwhile, have shared experiences and lessons on how best to manage civil society involvement in the mineral sector.
This peer sharing approach has had some notable successes. Civil society involvement in mine site inspections in the DR Congo is accepted and non-controversial. In Rwanda, it’s unheard of. Through the peer learning efforts of the civil society platform, Rwanda officials have come to see the benefits of civil society involvement in mine site oversight, and have become open to the idea of accepting NGO participation in this process.
Improved collaboration between civil society groups within and between ICGLR countries
Creation of civil society platform (CSP)
Regional civil society platform (COSOC-GL) members include the following:
Burundi: OLUCOME; ABUCO; CEJP Burundi
Uganda: PWYP; FIEGO; GRA; NAPE
Rwanda: Transparency Rwanda; RISD Rwanda; UMUSEKE; MPEDH
DR Congo: OGP; RIO ECC; UIAD/ ITIE Nord Kivu; BEST, Max Impact; GATT-RN; REPRODHOC Sud Kivu; CENADEP
The objectives of the civil society coalition is, first and foremost, to hold members’ respective governments to the ICGLR commitments they have made (e.g. ICGLR Pact on Peace, Stability and Development; Protocol on Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources; implementation of the six tools to address the illegal exploitation of natural resources) and to support MS to implement the RCM as soon as possible. Members also commit to: share best practices; support one another’s work and efforts; promote and sensitize the wider public about the ICGLR Pact, the RCM and the benefits of certification; assist with data collection, including socio-economic data; monitor certification and governance-related efforts and progress in the region; and act as whistleblowers to these efforts and to the RCM in particular. With respect to the latter, the intent is for the whistleblowing mechanism, currently in development by the ICGLR, to feed into the investigations and research functions of the office of the Independent Mineral Chain Auditor, once it is operational.
The coalition was very active and had gained regional and international profile as result. One of its most recent activities has been the conduct of country-specific research on the human rights situation in and around mine sites. Members were engaged in OECD discussions and meetings pertaining to the implementation of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance on Responsible Supply Chains in Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas and related supplements. Others are following or directly participating in certification efforts as members of the ICGLR Regional Audit Committee or as members of mine site inspection missions. However, the coalition has been negatively affected and dispirited by the suspension of support from PAC. Planned activities have been suspended until funds to support civil society’s engagement in resource governance can be secured from elsewhere.
Creation of CSP offices
The regional civil society coalition is composed of four national civil society ‘platforms’ (vs. offices): Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and DRC (Kivus only for the time being). Members participating in the coalition’s annual meeting in December 2011 in Kampala determined that a governance committee be comprised of one member of all participating countries, and that no office was required for the time being. CENADEP’s office in Bukavu serves as the regional coalition’s ‘Secretariat’ and central administration. Were the budget and capacity of the civil society coalition to increase, these administrative and governance-related decisions may likely need be revisited.
Participation in RCM governance
As mentioned previously, at the international level, the regional coalition and its members promote the need for the implementation of the RCM. It encourages donors and other stakeholder to support the RCM initiative, to better understand local and regional needs, and to equally advocate for regional ownership and transparency in the implementation of the RCM. The participating women’s rights NGO in Eastern DRC, RIO ECC, leads in the coalition’s efforts to advocate for full participation of women in the RCM governance structure. In region, the coalition frequently interacts with the Executive Secretary of the ICGLR to press for greater participation by civil society. They are also insisting on participating in data collection and/or on verifying data to be contained in the ICGLR database, and to ensuring that auditors broaden their scope to include qualitative and quantitative socio-economic progress indicators. This has yet to be done but requires the RCM to be in a more advanced stage of implementation. In late 2011, the ICGLR sponsored civil society and industry elections in both the Kivus and in Rwanda to identify representatives to sit on the tri-partite Audit Committee. In addition to ongoing outreach and sensitization in-region and internationally related to the ICGLR RCM, coalition members participate in various ICGLR resource governance and certification tools: ICGLR certification audit committee, whistle-blowing, as well as mine site inspections in DRC as part of national chain of custody requirements.
Outreach and partnership building activities
Even prior to the foundation of the coalition, several of the civil society organizations that are now members participated in PAC-sponsored joint workshops and consultations to develop the RCM Audit Terms of Reference and the RCM Manual.
See previous reports to DFAIT for a list of coalition outreach activities carried out in 2012. In 2013, coalition activities included (detailed in the attached civil society 2013 narrative report):
- Hosting of a second COSOC-GL Steering Committee meeting
- Presentation of human rights reports and validations (restitution) of country-specific findings in each of the four coalition member states represented
- Organization of a workshop on the formalisation of the artisanal sector in the Great Lakes Region (March 4 and 5, 2013); a series of recommendations addressed to the four governments, the ICGLR and partners emerged (declaration attached).
- Provision of two training workshops for members of the Groupes thématiques « mines » (South Kivu) on i) monitoring and the violation of human rights in the mineral chain, and ii) on the ICGLR RCM and the OECD Due Diligence Guidance.
Credible monitoring by civil society that supports the certified supply chain
- Training of CSP members to monitor the mineral trade, gather data and conduct investigative research and audits
- Research and oversight activities
- Public education and outreach
- Community capacity building
As indicated above and in previous reports, the regional civil society coalition on natural resources has either led or participated, to varying degrees, in the above monitoring activities. In the first year, the coalition was primarily dedicated to identifying, outreach to, and recruitment of, key civil society partners/members across the four (initial) countries of the region. In year two, coalition members became more fully involved in training and outreach. Monitoring capacity and opportunities were primarily developed via the ICGLR’s whistleblowing initiative and participation in the ICGLR Audit Committee. Year three was expected to further advance research and monitoring, especially as the RCM became fully operational , which includes not only regular mine site inspections and audits, but a more robust Audit Committee and IMCA office as well as access to certification data online.