Monday, November 10, 2008

Congo fighting is about water, timber and diamonds

"The natural environment enjoys protection under Protocol 1 of the Geneva Conventions. But this protection is often violated during war and armed conflict. Water wells are polluted, crops torched, forests cut down, soils poisoned, and animals killed, all in order to gain military advantage.


We have seen how environmental damage and the collapse of institutions are threatening human health, livelihoods and security. These risks can also jeopardize fragile peace and development in post-conflict societies. The environment and natural resources are crucial in consolidating peace within and between war-torn societies.

The United Nations attaches great importance to ensuring that action on the environment is part of our approach to peace. Protecting the environment can help countries create employment opportunities, promote development and avoid a relapse into armed conflict. On this International Day, let us renew our commitment to preventing the exploitation of the environment in times of conflict, and to protecting the environment as a pillar of our work for peace."

Quote United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. My emphasis. Said on the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, which is observed each year on November 6 while on his way to negotiate peace in Congo.

Since the outbreak of fighting in August 1998, the conflicts have been rooted in struggles for control of natural resources such as water, timber, diamonds and other minerals as well as various political agendas

Via Environment News Service.

1 comment:

  1. The Spoils: Congo’s Riches, Looted by Renegade Troops

    "The ore these fighters control is central to the chaos that plagues Congo, helping to perpetuate a conflict in which as many as five million people have died since the mid-1990s, mostly from hunger and disease. In the latest chapter, fighting between government troops and a renegade general named Laurent Nkunda has forced hundreds of thousands of civilians here in eastern Congo to flee and pushed the nation to the brink of a new regional war.

    The proceeds of mines like this one, along with the illegal tributes collected on roads and border crossings controlled by rebel groups, militias and government soldiers, help bankroll virtually every armed group in the region.


    The bloodshed and terror have always been driven in part by the endless global thirst for Congo’s resources


    vast reserves of cobalt, a mineral essential for building fighter jets, helped the longtime ruler of the nation then known as Zaire, Mobutu Sese Seko, keep the United States firmly behind him during the cold war despite his obstinately kleptocratic and repressive ways.


    gleaned profits from illegal taxes levied when valuable minerals and other resources pass through territory they control


    They violently enforce a system of illegal taxation of every worker, merchant and mineral trader who comes to the mine.

    That system has ensured that they and their allies have skimmed millions of dollars in the years the militia has controlled the mine — a costly, lost opportunity for a nation desperately in need of development.


    “Without knowing it, tens of millions of people in the United States may be putting money in the pockets of some of the worst human rights violators in the world, simply by using a cellphone or laptop computer,” Senator Durbin, a Democrat, said"

    Great article. Go read it, it's quite long.


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