DR of Congo: UN panel on plunder of resources publishes final report

28 October 2003 –

A United Nations committee investigating the plunder of gems and minerals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) published its final report today, listing the names of companies that did – and did not – cooperate with its work.

In a report to the Security Council made public today, the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the DRC says, "illegal exploitation remains one of the main sources of funding for groups involved in perpetuating conflict."

The panel, in its fourth report on the subject, says, "The flow of arms, exploitation and the continuation of the conflict are inextricably linked."

After calling for fuller disclosures of all business transactions in the DRC and recommending a plan for all international companies to "publish what you pay," the report lists five categories of companies according to the level of cooperation they gave the investigation, and the status of their cases, ranging from "resolved -no action needed," to companies that never responded to the panel's previous reports.

The approximately 125 companies and individuals listed in today's report had been named in a previous report by the panel for having contributed directly or indirectly to the conflict in the DRC.

The DRC has reserves of gems, cobalt, copper, gold, timber, uranium and coltan, a component for electronic chips in cell phones and laptop computers.

The panel also recommends increased efficiency in border control, the break-up of large state-owned mineral resource companies, effective integration of the new armed forces and the creation of a natural resources fund which would attempt to ensure that the benefits from mining go to the people of the country.

"There should be no illusion that the Congolese people will be able to carry out this colossal task on their own," the panel says. "Without the active engagement of the international community, the chances of success will be minimal."

The report is due to be formally delivered Thursday to the Security Council by Chairman Mahmoud Kassem of Egypt.

A section of the report which describes in detail "how exploitation of resources enables financing of arms, which in turn perpetuates the conflict," was given to the Council on a confidential basis, according to a UN spokesman.

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