Support for the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR)
Title: Support for the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Africa, transnational. Headquarters: Bujumbura, Burundi
Lead executing agency: Executive Secretariat of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) / Secrétariat Executif de la Conférence internationale sur la Région des Grands Lacs (CIRGL)
Overall term: 2004 to 2014
The Great Lakes Region in Central Africa is a prime example of the paradoxical effect that abundant natural resources can have on the living conditions of the local population. Although the region has considerable mineral deposits, it is characterised by poverty, human rights violations and violent conflicts. Very little of its wealth in natural resources is being used to develop the economy and society.
What is undisputed is that the conflicts there extend beyond national boundaries and are largely funded by the illegal exploitation of and trade in natural resources (‘conflict resources’). Illegal exploitation of mineral deposits is therefore a major obstacle to peace and stability in the region.
The first big step towards settling the conflicts in the region was the signing of the Pact on Security, Stability and Development at the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) in December 2006. The African member states, now numbering twelve, took a further step forward in December 2010 with the Lusaka Declaration, which launched the Regional Initiative against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources (Natural Resources Initiative).
The challenge is to translate the policy requirements of the Natural Resources Initiative into structural changes in the nation states. However, the ICGLR Secretariat, which was established in 2007, still lacks the necessary technical and organisational capacities to achieve this, as do the national coordination mechanisms in the member states and the national agencies in the mining sector.
The ICGLR signatory countries implement the Regional Initiative against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources in accordance with the Lusaka Declaration.
GIZ has been advising and supporting the ICGLR since 2004, working on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation (BMZ). Since 2011 the project has been implemented jointly by GIZ and the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR). It is supporting the ICGLR in implementing the Natural Resources Initiative. The Initiative consists of six complementary tools designed to establish an effective system for certifying the origin of the resources most affected.
GIZ is providing organisational and management advice to the ICGLR Secretariat to enable it to perform its coordination tasks in the implementation of the Natural Resources Initiative, deliver competent advice to the member states and actively participate in international bodies engaged in the certification of natural resources.
GIZ is also specifically supporting three instruments of the initiative with technical and process consulting as well as financing:
- Harmonisation of national legislation to implement the Natural Resources Initiative,
- Establishment of a decentralised whistleblower mechanism to detect illegal activities in the natural resources sector,
- Regional integration of the member states in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) to increase fiscal transparency in the natural resources sector.
The project thus combines the strengthening of institutional structures at the ICGLR Secretariat with the development of regional tools for the control of the natural resources sector.
GIZ is working with the ICGLR Secretariat and the member states as well as with local non-governmental organisations and the private sector.
The support provided by the BGR focuses on developing a regional certification system for selected natural resources and their extraction in the region as well as formalising the artisanal mining sector.
Results achieved so far
The support GIZ has been providing to the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region shows that tangible results can be achieved even in a complex political environment.
The functionality of the institutions of the ICGLR has gradually improved. The ICGLR Secretariat regularly prepares and manages meetings between ministers and summits between heads of state. It coordinates various steering groups at the professional level and implements transnational projects.
With German support, the ICGLR Secretariat has established itself as a regionally recognised mediator between various national interests of the signatory states. Among other benefits, this has led to the Lusaka Declaration to Fight Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources. The secretariat has also been able to make use of the regional cooperation to contribute to overcoming the crises in eastern Congo in 2008/2009 and 2012/2013.
By developing the six tools, the ICGLR has created a regionally and internationally recognised policy and action framework for the control of trade in conflict resources. The member states of Burundi, DR Congo and Rwanda have undertaken initial steps to implement the Natural Resources Initiative in their national legislation, and Uganda has largely completed this process. The member states are coordinating the harmonisation of their legislation and sharing learning experiences. The anonymous whistleblower mechanism can now be introduced in a number of pilot areas and civil society is involved in this process.