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KP CSC Opening Statement at the Mano River Union Regional Meeting Freetown, Sierra Leone (Family Kingdom Hotel)

25 February 2020

Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Hon Foday Rado Yokie

EU Ambassador to SL, Mr Tom Vens

MRU Deputy Secretary General, Dr Abubakarr Tarawalie

GIZ Project Coordinator Mr Patric Makua

WDC Executive Director, Elodie Daguzan

Chair of WGAAP, Mr Maurice Miema

Ladies and gentlemen good morning.

Introduction

On behalf of the KP Civil Society Coalition (KP-CSC) I would like to thank the Mano River Union, GIZ, European Union and the Government of Sierra Leone for inviting me and for supporting this very important and timely event. The Mano River Union is charting and defining the course of history of the diamond industry by regionalising discussions and efforts to address problems in the sector including smuggling of minerals, poverty, limited livelihoods options and other development outcome challenges.  

The KP CSC held in its annual planning meeting in Zimbabwe in January 2020. The meeting was held in the aftermath of the KP Plenary in India in November 2019 that failed to produce any significant reforms on protection of people from violence in the diamond sector.

Out of the Zimbabwe planning meeting, the CSC adopted a new Strategic Plan and an operational plan for activities within and outside the KP.

Our mission remains the same: Defending the rights of communities affected by diamond mining. However, we have deliberately decided to focus on three main themes in 2020 -2021 namely; a) Redistribution of benefits to local communities, b) Reducing violence in diamond mining communities and c) Land rights.

Therefore, based on our experience over the past two years of reflection and strengthening our internal systems, our focus will be on;promoting the interests of communities where diamonds are mined with increased focus on working outside the Kimberley Process, increasing our work at national and regional levels where change can be effected and impact felt by communities and securing other partnerships that can ensure that work at national and regional levels is accomplished. We will also be deepening other partnerships at international level including working with the OECD, the UN and the Private Sector in order to obtain real gains for diamond governance. 

Why we think Regional Approaches can be a game Changer

The Regional approach can enhance cooperation, knowledge creation and exchange and promote compliance and law enforcement in the context of shared borders, cultures, languages and natural resources. This is one natural progression of the KP, whose Core document emphasises its tripartite nature and Information sharing as key for KP implementation. Cross border learning is vital.

The CSC was involved in all initial meetings and discussions on establishment of the Mano River Union Regional Approach, starting with the Liberian Review Visit (Alan Martin of PAC and Shamiso Mtisi current KP CSC Coordinator participated). Therefore, this process is key to our work in the diamond sector

To cement our regional work, the CSC adopted a new Strategic Framework for 2020-2021 which focusses on Regional level work as outlined below.

CSC Member Activities in the Mano River Union

We have also regionalised our work and governance structure. We have Regional Leads in three regions; Mano River Union (West Africa), Central Africa and Southern Africa.

  • NMJD is Regional Lead for Mano River/West Africa
  • RELUFA in Cameroon is lead for Central Africa
  • CNRG in Zimbabwe leads the Southern Africa region.
  • -Other members in the Mano River Union include: Green Advocates in Liberia, CECIDE and Action Mines Guinea in Guinea and GRPIE in Cote d’voire.

At national level, we are excited about the establishment of national tripartite arrangements for example in Guinea where a Ministerial Decree was passed for the establishment of a National KP Tripartite group. To complement regional work with national level activities, we have also agreed to recruit Associate Civil Society Coalition members at national level in different countries. In different countries and regions we will be holding regional level meetings with regional decision-makers, participate in panels in regional forums, strengthen regional platforms and bring community voices for regional attention.   

Questions, Views and Opportunities on Procedural and Substantive Matters for the Mano River Union Regional Approach

In the Mano River Union, the centrality of the development benefits of diamonds to citizens and especially host communities is the reason for mining in the first place. Therefore, policies and laws must reflect this objective. In addition, practices and operations must promote political security, environmental sanity, social cohesion and cultural integrity. The question is how much of the mineral revenue is used to benefit the communities and address their development needs including; water, electricity, education, roads, housing, food, medical facilities, markets and lasting jobs. Where are the diamonds going?

That also means decision making must be inclusive and participatory. Since communities are central to the purpose of mining, they should be fully represented in all structures and at all levels (country & regional KP platforms and meetings) like this one today. This includes the situation of women and gender issues in the mining sector which needs adequate attention. Special programmes should be initiated and supported in this respect.

We call for the recognition and support to Mano River Union Civil Society Platform on Natural Resources Rights and Governances Platform. I would like to introduce the members present; Idrisssa Tchernaka, Sangare Tiemoko Souleymane and Abu Brima.We are calling for their involvement in the meetings of MRU governments’ especially on natural resource issues/ discussions. The platform needs the support of everyone around.

For the MRU, the implementation of the Washington Declaration to regulate and formalize the ASM sector is critical especially now that artisanal minerals are on the increase and poverty is at the same time rising with its attendant conflicts and insecurity.

 The issue of security is very important. Sierra Leone for instance is classified as one of the most insecure states presently (Global Security Index). The mining sector often employs heavy security operations even with unarmed citizens’ protests. It is important to think of how to create people-centred mining operations without any sense of community insecurity?

Opportunities

The Mano River Union Region can demonstrate that regional harmonisation and implementation of agreed standards and policies can help promote diamond governance and compliance with KP minimum requirements and other standards including respect and application of human rights standards and efforts to end child labour, environmental damage and poverty. This can be done through application of Mano River Union statutes or other policies that may be defined by the Mano River Union as a trailblazer.

The Mano River Union should not be afraid to chart the way for the broader KP to learn- it has already done so by establishing the Regional approach. Efforts to establish a regional approach in Central Africa should benefit from the lessons in Mano River Union. Southern Africa remains to be explored.

What is important going forward is implementation of agreed plans and making national tripartite taskforces or forums work. Community and civil society participation will be crucial.

Delivered by Shamiso Mtisi (Coordinator of KP Civil Society Coalition)

Contributions and insights from Abu Brima, Mamadou Lamarana Diallo and Mamadou Daiby.

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