Support to the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region
Title: Containment of the trade in conflict resources
Commissioned by: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Africa, transnational;
Lead executing agency: Conférence International de la Région des Grands Lacs, International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR)
Overall term: 2017 to 2022
The Great Lakes region has been marked by violent conflicts for almost 30 years now. Civil wars in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, clashes between rebel movements and regular armies in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda and the Central African Republic, and genocide in Rwanda, have hit the region hard. Unresolved and covert conflicts in parts of the region have called democratic principles into question and led to violent clashes. Reconstruction and development efforts are hampered and human rights are often not sufficiently addressed.
The region is rich in mineral resources that are of great significance for the world economy. Illegal exploitation and trade in these resources further exacerbate local conflicts. The main conflict resources are tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold.
The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) promotes peace and development in the region.
The ICGLR offers its 12 member countries improved support services in the areas of resource governance, peace and security, and in the fight against sexual and gender-based violence.
The project is cofinanced by the European Union. It comprises three fields of activity, including organisational development. The ICGLR Secretariat will be restructured and the functioning of the whole organisation will be supported in order to increase efficiency. In the second field of activity, the project supports the implementation of the Regional Initiative against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources. For example, a common strategy for special due diligence checks in artisinal gold mining has been developed to reduce the use of gold to finance conflicts. Another main objective in this field of activity is the international recognition of ICGLR certificates which prove the conflict-free origin of the natural resources. The project supports ICGLR in further developing its technical and professional competencies and also advises the mining ministries of selected member countries.
The third field of activity focuses on peace and security and on combating sexual violence against women and children. To this end, support is provided for cooperation between ICGLR and other African peace and security structures and for early warning mechanisms at continental, regional and national levels. The project also supports peacebuilding interventions that tackle the causes of conflict. The focus here is on the development of a comprehensive mediation strategy and to achieve this the project is cooperating with a network of regional ICGLR mediators. National and local strategies are developed on the basis of conflict analyses. The competencies of the ICGLR staff, as well as those of the member countries, to combat gender-based violence and impunity will be strengthened; awareness-raising activities will also be carried out, particularly in the security sector, and the implementation of ICGLR’s regional action plan on women, peace and security will be supported.
The functioning of the ICGLR institutions has gradually improved. The Conference Secretariat regularly prepares and conducts ministerial and summit meetings at head of state level. It also coordinates various steering groups at technical level and implements cross-border projects.
The Conference Secretariat has established itself as a regional mediator between the various national interests of the signatory states, offering an urgently-needed platform for regional networking through its bodies and through regular meetings.
With its Regional Initiative against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources, ICGLR has created an important policy and action framework to prevent trade in conflict resources. In Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, legislation has been aligned and the Regional Certification Mechanism has been successfully implemented. These developments are also progressing in other member states and are gradually being incorporated into national legislation. The work of the technical unit in implementing the Initiative is perceived as supportive by the relevant ministries.