While a ban on the export of raw materials originating from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) would be counterproductive, punitive measures are still needed to curb the illegal exploitation of the country's natural resources by criminal organizations and persons, according to a report by a group of United Nations experts released today.
"Massive technical and financial assistance for the population would be required to offset the humanitarian impact of such restrictive measures," an expert panel appointed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to investigate the illegal exploitation of natural resources and other forms of wealth of the DRC says in its report. Nevertheless, steps need to be taken against companies or individuals or the country risks encouraging a continuation, or even an increase, of exploitative and illegal activities.
The report recommends that financial restrictions be placed on 29 companies based in Belgium, Rwanda, Uganda, DRC, Zimbabwe and South Africa, and a travel ban and financial restrictions imposed on 54 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.
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 Security Council.
The report also calls for quick disbursement of aid to the DRC and other countries in the Great Lakes region involved in the conflict for reconstruction and rehabilitation programmes aimed at creating jobs, rebuilding infrastructure and improving conditions for local populations.
A "fast-track programme" should be set up to retrain members of the countries' security apparatus and regulatory bodies, such as the customs, immigration and revenue collection agencies, as well as a strengthening of institutions to end the impunity enjoyed by high-ranking officials and various levels of civil servants.
The panel further proposes that measures be aimed at tying aid disbursements to Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe to their compliance with the Lusaka peace accord and verifiable measures they have taken to halt the illegal exploitation of resources from the DRC. Recommending that non-compliance automatically trigger a reduction in assistance, the report says such cuts should apply to "institutional budget support, stabilization lending or project lending and not sector-specific allocations."