Peace, Security and the Global Extractive Sector

September 17, 2014 § 1 Comment

New ethical supply chains that connect small scale miners in conflict affected countries to smart phone consumers and cut out the warlord show that the international system is learning to do a better job of managing the extractive sector, but it has been a long process. The President of Resolve, Stephen D’Esposito, and I have just published an article on Resolve’s work on the supply chain frontier entitled Conflict Minerals, Ethical Supply Chains and Peace in this month’s journal of the Alliance for Peacebuilding, Conflicts of the Future. You can also read  about Motorola’s contribution through closed supply chains in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Mike Loch’s article Taking the Conflict out of Conflict Minerals.

Peace, security and the global extractive sector have been increasingly central to Canada’s international policy. Looking back to the 90’s we had the disturbing example of a Canadian company producing oil on the front lines of the Sudanese civil war. Today, it is hard to imagine any major multinational insisting that its commercial interests could trump human rights considerations.

Since that time there have been important milestones in pulling the sector towards better standards of responsibility.  In the terrible period of instability in the DRC after the Rwandan genocide, the UN Security Council examined the role of natural resources in conflict for the first time, but without real mechanisms to do anything about it. The Kimberley Process to Ban Conflict Diamonds (which I had the honour to chair in 2004) transformed the global trade in rough diamonds through establishing criminal penalties for any international transactions in uncertified rough diamonds. More recently, the UN has adopted guidelines for business and human rights. In 2012 the Securities and Exchange Commission required listed companies to report on their use of conflict sensitive minerals from the DRC region.  Last year, the OECD has put forward guidelines on conflict free due diligence for sensitive minerals, guidelines which are not restricted to the Central Africa region and have particular relevance for Latin America. These milestones are a credit to the work of leaders in all sectors – government, industry and civil society.

More than ever, resource diplomacy needs to accompany growth of the sector. This means voluntary, multi-sector interventions across the supply chain to prevent conflict and harness the social development potential of the extractive sector.

I invite you to read our articles and very much look forward to your comments.

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