Land, Natural Resources and Conflict Prevention: From Curse to Opportunity
An EU-UN Partnership

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The Great Lakes


Photo: UNEP

The "EU-UN Partnership on Land, Natural Resources and Conflict Prevention": The Great Lakes Region: A pilot project

While other parts of sub-Saharan Africa are experiencing high growth rates, countries of the Great Lakes region have had extremely high levels of poverty and very low levels of delivery of key services. Mary Robinson, the Special Envoy of the Great Lakes Region of Africa declared "There is a fresh chance to do more than just attend to the consequences of conflict, there is a chance to resolve its underlying causes and to stop it for good. If this new attempt is to succeed where others have fallen short, there must be optimism and courage in place of cynicism. The governments and the people of this region, and the international community, must believe once again that peace can be achieved, and be determined to take the necessary and well-coordinated actions to obtain it."

The UN Security Council Resolution 2053 of 27th June 2012 stressed the need to address land-related community conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It also urges the Government of the DRC, with support from MONUSCO, to sustain its action against armed groups, especially mutineers of ex-CNDP and M23, to restore order and bring the perpetrators to justice, while ensuring the protection of the civilian population, and to address the underlying causes of instability, in particular the impact of the return of displaced persons and refugees and possible land-related social tensions.

The aim of the new EU-UN Global Partnership action in the Great Lakes is to strengthen the capacity of local non-state actors to understand conflict dynamics and employ conflict-sensitive development approaches to contentious national issues such as land and natural resources competition and conflicts. Such skills and competencies would help them analyze potential conflicts with a view to preventing or mitigating violent outcomes, monitoring and influencing national policies and revenue allocation, and mediating local conflicts over natural resources and other issues of contestation once they arise in their local and national setting. Through a regional EU-UN call for proposals, a number of civil society organizations will be working to better understand and manage conflict over land and natural resources in Rwanda, DRC, Uganda and Burundi.

Selected organizations from these four countries will be working over a period of twelve months on issues related to land disputes and artisanal mining in DRC, on land related mediation techniques in Rwanda, on transparency and legal frameworks in Burundi and on local specific land and natural resources assessments in Uganda. In collaboration with the OECD, the ICGLR, the ECA (Land Policy Initiative and Africa Mining Vision) a regional training is being organized with representatives of civil society organizations learning about conflict prevention, management of natural resources and access to land.

"Many countries in Africa are taking dynamic forward strides, and now the people of the Great Lakes region, especially the Democratic Republic of Congo, deserve their full chance for progress. A peace agreement must deliver a peace dividend. That is why Dr. Jim Kim and I are making this visit. We see a horizon of hope for the people of the Great Lakes, and we are determined to help them every step of the way," - the UN Secretary-General on the first day of a recent joint United Nations/World Bank Group mission to the Great Lakes region in May 2013.

Following the regional training in Bujumbura, a call for proposals was launched and civil society organizations from the four countries have applied for EU-UN grants that would fund projects related to the land, natural resources and conflict prevention for a 12 month period.

The following organizations have been selected to implement the EU-UN projects:

Country NGO Project Titles
Burundi Observatoire de lutte contre la Corruption et les Malversations Economiques (OLUCOME) Campaign for Burundi membership and implementation of Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative
  Conseil pour le Développement Intégré (CONSEDI) Project support for the formalisation of artisenal mining in provinces of Cibitoke and Kanyanza
DRC Action Justice et Paix (AJP) Support to civil society on good land governance in Ituri : the case of large mining contracts (Province Orientale)
  Comité d'Appui à l'Auto-Promotion - CAAP Tujitegemee Support to mediators for conciliating disputes between artisenal miners and mining enterprises, MH1 enterprise, in the mineral zones of Rubaya in Masisi, North Kivu
Rwanda Rwanda Initiative for Sustainable Development (RISD) Empowering civil society and Abunzi to mediate land conflicts
Uganda Ecological Christian Organisation (ECO) Strengthening civil society organizations' capacities to better understand the dynamics of conflicts related to land and natural resources in Karamoja Region.