Plundering versus Prospering
A Fair Share of Natural Resources
When it comes to natural resources, it seems that corruption, bribery and plundering are typical. If natural resources were taxed enough so that windfall profits were not possible, the criminals would leave, and natural resource values could be shared among all persons.
Here is a news report from CAFOD, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development.
A global call to urgently address problems caused by competition for natural resources such as oil, gas, timber, diamonds and gold has been made in Nairobi at the World Social Forum (WSF).
A two-day seminar, arranged by CAFOD and CIDSE, saw representatives of 60 organisations based in 30 countries with communities who suffer rather than benefit from their natural resources.
The participants demanded that governments and transnational corporations gain the consent of the local people before extractive projects begin.
Companies should also be transparent about the payments made to governments, to end corruption and ensure profits from the natural resources are reinvested back into the communities they come from.
Violating basic rights
“Time and time again oil, gas, mining and logging companies are violating the most basic human rights and environmental standards,” said Rene Grotenhuis, vice-president of CIDSE.
In a joint statement, the agencies urge corporations, governments, the IMF, World Bank and UN to ensure that "practical and enforceable" steps are taken to regulate the extractive industries, and to hold companies to account for failure to comply with international standards on human rights and the environment.
Fr Alfred Buju, a priest and former child miner in the goldfields of Mongbwalu who is now head of CAFOD partner the Justice and Peace Commission in Bunia, DRC, said: “In my country, we have some of the richest goldfields in Africa and yet people are suffering from poverty and conflict as a result of competition for our natural resources.
“There’s never been a greater need to take action to address globally the problems associated with extractive industries.”
CAFOD’s extractives analyst Sonya Maldar is attending the seminar with Fr Alfred Buju, Pedro Landa, deputy director of Caritas Tegucigalpa in Honduras, and two UK campaigners.
The DRC and Honduras are the focus of the aid agency’s Unearth Justice campaign, which aims to highlight the impact of gold mining on developing countries.
Sonya says: “Gold mining can devastate communities and the environment often with little benefit for local people. CAFOD’s Unearth Justice campaign is putting pressure on the whole industry from retailers to suppliers to gold mining companies and governments to make changes.
"We want communities to have a say over what happens to their resources and whether a mine goes ahead or not.
"We also want companies to publish vital information about the social and environmental impacts of their operations and payments to governments.
“By working together we hope to get mining and other extractive industries to bring about a better deal for affected communities.”
A panel debate at the WSF chaired by Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, will be held on February 23.
Participants will include working with communities affected by mining, logging and drilling across the world including Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, Honduras, Philippines, Guatemala, Ecuador, Cameroon.
Monopolists Seek to Plunder, Not Share
Natural Resource Values Should Benefit All People
Public Assets Being Given Away
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