Search for Common Ground (Search), funded by USAID, is working with civil society organizations active in the extractive sector (JUSTICIA ASBL, Observatoire Gouvernance et Paix (OGP) and Southern Africa Resource Watch / SARW) to support the DRC government’s adherence to the Voluntary Principles in the extractive sector. Search conducted a study in the provinces of Haut Katanga, Sud Kivu, and Kongo Central – key in the mining and hydrocarbon sectors in the DRC – to identify best practices and appropriate policies for successful implementation of the Voluntary Principles
The extractive sector in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is an important source of revenue for the national economy, but it faces many challenges, including human rights and environmental violations, social conflicts, and tensions between local communities and mining companies. The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs) have been put in place to address these challenges, but there are still significant hurdles to be overcome in terms of their application by stakeholders.
Search for Common Ground (Search), funded by USAID, is working with civil society organizations active in the extractive sector (JUSTICIA ASBL, Observatoire Gouvernance et Paix (OGP), and Southern Africa Resource Watch / SARW) to support the DRC government’s adherence to the Voluntary Principles in the extractive sector.
Search conducted a study in the provinces of Haut Katanga, Sud Kivu, and Kongo Central – key in the mining and hydrocarbon sectors in the DRC – to identify best practices and appropriate policies for successful implementation of the Voluntary Principles. More specifically:
- in the Haut Katanga province around the mine of an international mining group;
- in South Kivu province around a gold mining company;
- and in the province of Kongo Central, around a group of oil companies.
The study highlighted good practices and challenges in implementing the Voluntary Principles in the DRC and put forward recommendations for improvement:
- Recruitment of Local Manpower Among Private Security Guards: One key idea from the report is the recruitment of local manpower among private security guards for providing security services in mining areas. This approach has several benefits. Firstly, it fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility among the local population as they are directly involved in safeguarding their own community and resources. Secondly, local security personnel have a better understanding of the area’s dynamics, culture, and potential security threats, which can lead to more effective security operations. Additionally, employing local security guards can contribute to the economic development of the region by creating job opportunities and supporting the local economy.
- Voluntary and Proactive Capacity-Building on Human Rights and Security Issues: Another important concept is the voluntary and proactive capacity-building among stakeholders on human rights and security issues. This approach aims to educate and empower various actors, including mining companies, security personnel, civil society organizations, and local communities, to promote a better understanding of human rights principles and security measures. By fostering a culture of respect for human rights and security standards, this capacity-building initiative can help prevent human rights violations and ensure that all stakeholders are actively engaged in maintaining a safe and ethical mining environment.
- Staggered Deployment of Security Services During Demonstrations and Major Incidents: The report suggests a staggered deployment of security services in the event of demonstrations against an extractive company or major incidents in mining areas. This approach involves a strategic and measured response to potentially tense situations, aiming to avoid unnecessary escalation of conflicts. By deploying security forces in a controlled and phased manner, the risk of violence and human rights abuses can be reduced, promoting a more peaceful resolution to conflicts.
Overall, these three key ideas highlight the importance of local involvement, human rights education, and careful security planning in the context of extractive industries like mining. Implementing these concepts can lead to more sustainable and responsible mining practices that prioritize the welfare of local communities, respect human rights, and minimize negative environmental impacts.
One of the main obstacles is the lack of stakeholder involvement in the implementation of the Voluntary Principles. Non-state actors, such as civil society organizations and local communities, are not sufficiently involved in decision-making processes, which undermines the effectiveness of the initiatives put in place.
The study has enabled us to draw up recommendations for the implementation of and compliance with the Voluntary Principles, as well as for reducing tensions around the extractive sector.
Recommendations proposed by Search for Common Ground to improve the situation include:
- Community involvement in all stages of the corporate supply chain to reduce the risk of suspicion and gratuitous allegations.
- Setting up a multi-stakeholder discussion framework involving the state, companies, and local communities to regularly discuss different perspectives on human rights, insecurity, and social issues around mining activities.
- Facilitating the certification of new artisanal mining zones in favor of local communities by setting up a community consultation and participation mechanism.
- The establishment of a coherent, transparent, and accessible complaints mechanism for communities to ensure that they can assert their rights in the event of violation.