TI calls on UN to provide Chief Prosecutor of International Criminal Court with full access to UN Panel findings on plunder of natural resources in DRC
The United Nations Security Council should provide Luis Moreno Ocampo, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), with all the information gathered on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by the UN Panel of Experts, according to Transparency International (TI), the leading international non-governmental organisation engaged in the fight against corruption worldwide. The report by the UN Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the DRC will be considered by the UN Security Council later this month.
"When the UN Security Council considers the Panel's report, it should offer its full support to the International Criminal Court's investigations," said TI Chairman Peter Eigen. "It is essential that the link between corrupt dictators and war crimes is investigated, but also that international business is fully aware that criminal collusion with regimes that abuse human rights is not only a crime against the people of the country concerned, but also illegal under the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, which came into force in 1999."
"More than 3 million people have been killed in the conflict in DRC. Given the human tragedy in the areas where the looting is mainly taking place, it is not acceptable that the companies and other actors who colluded in the illegal exploitation can simply walk away from their liability with the blessing of the international community," said Eigen.
TI strongly disagrees with the impunity that the Panel report grants to the perpetrators of the looting in DRC, and expresses reservations regarding what have been defined in the report, chaired by Mahmoud Kassem, as resolved or provisionally resolved cases.
TI Regional Director for Africa Muzong Kodi said that this "sets a dangerous precedent that will damage the credibility of the international system and undermine the rules, values and aspirations reflected in the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and other international instruments that set standards for international business. The Kassem Panel has gone beyond its mandate by absolving a whole category of companies that were on the list published by the previous Panel."
The ICC Chief Prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, has explicitly said that investigations into war crimes, for instance in DRC, will include investigations of corruption. Upon his appointment in April 2003, he said: "Mass killings and corruption are two kinds of abuse of power, generally used together against poor people. Dictators who are killing people usually have millions in secret accounts, and the ICC will investigate and prosecute them."
Muzong Kodi said today: "The UN Panel report includes some excellent recommendations, especially the implementation of the Publish What You Pay initiative in DRC. In conflict zones, the trade in arms, diamonds and oil has exacerbated the ferocity of the fighting and abuse of human rights, and international companies have a moral obligation to disclose any payments made to host governments or state companies."
While the UN Panel's report explicitly states that "the flow of arms, the illegal exploitation of natural resources and the continuation of the conflict are inextricably linked", the report does not provide any estimation of the loss in resources caused to DRC by the illegal exploitation of its wealth, nor any recommendation on how to hold accountable and liable the authors and accomplices.
TI urges the UN Security Council, OECD governments, the DRC, the governments of its neighbouring states, the companies listed in the Annex to the Report and other stakeholders, to collaborate in establishing a reparations mechanism. TI suggests the creation of a Development Fund that will ensure the implementation of the quick impact projects recommended by the Panel for the benefit of the local communities in the areas of conflict. TI encourages the international community to help implement these important recommendations and establish effective monitoring mechanisms that ensure transparency, accountability and corporate responsibility.
TI also supports the reinforcement of the Kimberley Process of certification of the source of diamonds in order to curb the illegal trade in diamonds from conflict zones. To make this possible in DRC, TI agrees with those calling for a strong and central government in DRC capable of controlling its territory and its borders. "Such a government must, however, be accountable for its budget and expenditures, and co-operate with the Publish What You Pay initiative," said Muzong Kodi. "A strong government must establish whistleblower protection mechanisms and foster the strengthening of civil society organisations to monitor these processes on the ground."
TI, Global Witness and other civil society organisations have joined together in the Publish What You Pay campaign to urge international regulators such as the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US to require oil, gas and mining companies to publish taxes, fees, royalties and other payments made to each host government as a condition for stock exchange listing.
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