On 4 August 2017, the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004) concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo held an open briefing with interested Member States on the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The meeting was held in pursuance of paragraph 31 of resolution 2360 (2017), by which the Security Council encouraged the Chair to hold regular briefings for all interested Member States. As the first open briefing of the Committee since its establishment, the meeting marked the importance that the Committee holds to reducing the impact that the illegal exploitation of natural resources has on the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Chair expressed the view that attention should be focused on the predatory activities of armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and finding ways to separate these groups from natural resource flows, as well as those who support them, whether inside the Democratic Republic of the Congo or abroad. Following the Chair’s opening remarks, the Permanent Representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to the Great Lakes Region, the Executive Secretary of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region and the Acting Coordinator of the Group of Experts also delivered statements, followed by questions and comments by Committee and non-Committee members.
In their presentations, the invited speakers touched on progress in the implementation of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region of Africa regional certification mechanism (RCM) for tin, tantalum and tungsten (3Ts) and other traceability schemes designed to track the 3Ts from the mine to international market. They called for the RCM, one of six tools of the Regional Initiative against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources (RINR), to be implemented by all States in the region. However, many speakers recognized that gold was currently the most lucrative resource for armed groups and criminal networks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and that legal exporters of gold were not asking questions about its origin, thereby enabling the laundering of illegitimate gold into the international supply chain involving illicit financial flows and money laundering.
Speakers also highlighted the importance of combating impunity in the illicit exploitation of natural resources. Citing names of individuals and companies, the Acting Coordinator of the Group of Experts highlighted the importance of investigating and prosecuting individuals and entities involved in illegal activities related to the exploitation and trade of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and neighbouring countries — who have been named in reports of the Group.
Members of the Committee welcomed the meeting and the opportunity to engage with the wider United Nations membership, with a view to facilitating peace and security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Along these lines, while acknowledging the efforts of the region, delegations underscored the importance of further cooperation through a common approach involving Governments of the region, the United Nations and international partners, and destination markets.