Kenya asks UN security council to tackle illegal trade of natural resources

Foreign Affairs CS Raychelle Omamo when she chaired the high-level ministerial meeting on the security situation in the Great Lakes region at the UN Security Council. [Courtesy]

Kenya has appealed to the United Nations Security Council to move swiftly and address illegal exploitation and trade of natural resources within countries in Africa's Great Lakes Region.

In a high-level ministerial debate led by Foreign Affairs CS Raychelle Omamo, Kenya said the UN must put mechanisms in place to improve and reinforce the security around mining regions, seek rapprochement between mining communities, local authorities and security actors to resolve conflicts and promote the rights of persons belonging to communities around mining regions.

The CS said Kenya in its Presidency at the UNSC had further asked the council to identify and encourage all stakeholders to guarantee transparent and responsible mineral sourcing supply chain due diligence, support the strengthening of national border control and sustainable regulatory and customs frameworks and the adoption of government revenue targets to finance development.

The Ministerial Debate focused on ways to lawfully, transparently and sustainably utilise the natural resources in the Great Lakes Region to promote peace and sustainable development.

Omamo said Nairobi chose this focus area because the linkages between natural resources and conflict remains a key challenge for many countries of the Great Lakes Region.

The African Great Lakes are a series of lakes constituting the part of the Rift Valley lakes in and around the East African Rift.

 The lakes include Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika, Lake Malawi, Lake Turkana, Lake Albert, Lake Kivu, and Lake Edward with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.), Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda being the four countries that make up the Great Lakes region.

“It is our conviction that the region must proceed with courage and alacrity to harness its natural resources for the benefit of its people especially its youth so as to guarantee its peace and prosperity,” she said, adding, “There must be a shift away from the pattern of unregulated extraction and exploitation to a model that favours investment in people, capacity building, value addition, job creation and infrastructure development.”

Omamo said Kenya is of the view that natural resources must be extracted and traded in a transparent, accountable and sustainable manner and utilized to drive positive change.

“I am happy to report that through the Presidential statement, Kenya asks the Security Council to reinvigorate and renew its commitment to support the regional governments in seeking solutions to sustainably address the root causes and drivers of rampant conflict in the region with a special focus on positively harnessing the region’s natural resources for social and economic transformation,” she said.

She said that it is worth applauding the countries of the Great Lakes Region for the commendable steps they have taken to consolidate peace and stability in the region.

“Today’s debate and the Presidential Statement that was adopted reflect Kenya’s conviction that Africa’s natural resources should contribute to development and security, not division and war,” she said.

The CS said Nairobi’s statement bears major deliverables that include the imperative for a stronger, reinforced and reinvigorated shared vision for peace, security, regional integration and economic cooperation.

Support for disarmament, demobilisation reintegration, repatriation and resettlement (DDR/RR) programmmes, as identified by the Contact and Coordination Group while addressing the linkage between the illegal exploitation and trade in natural resources and the illegal acquisition and trafficking of small arms and light weapons, are also among the deliverables.

Others include support to resource-endowed countries to transform the entire natural resource extraction continuum from illegal exploitation into a legal productive use of natural resources that contributes to conflict prevention, resolution and reconstruction.