Statement at UNSC Debate on Illicit Trafficking of Natural Resources in Africa
Statement06 October 2022
Thank you President, for convening this very important meeting and best wishes also for your Presidency of the Security Council. Thank you also Executive Director Waly, Commissioner Adeoye and Dr Handy for your briefings today.
As previous speakers have noted Africa possesses an abundance of natural wealth. Yet for too long the illegal exploitation of these resources has hampered growth and contributed to instability.
Across the continent, armed groups and terrorist organisations are engaging in the illicit exploitation and trafficking of natural resources. This sustains and funds their activities, while acting as a clear obstacle to sustainable development.
It prevents local communities from benefiting from their environment, diverting income and exacerbating vulnerabilities. This particularly affects the lives of women, girls and marginalized groups.
In the Lake Chad Basin, cattle rustling and livestock raids have funded Boko Haram and the Lord’s Resistance Army. In the Horn of Africa, Al-Shabaab generates funds through illicit taxation on agriculture, livestock, wildlife and charcoal.
In the DRC, revenue from timber, cocoa, coffee and gold has been linked to terrorism funding. In northern Mozambique, illicit trade in gold, rubies and other resources is helping to finance the ongoing insurgency.
The Secretary General has noted that environmental degradation enables non-State armed groups to extend their influence and manipulate resources to their advantage.
The situation is being exacerbated by rising climate-related security risks and conflict-related hunger.
This is driving displacement, creating vulnerability, and increasing tensions due to competition over scarce resources.
The DRC is home to many of the world’s most valuable resources, including cobalt, tantalum, and lithium, which power our phones and laptops, and are essential for the Green Transition. The DRC is also home to over one hundred armed groups, including some affiliated with sanctioned entities and terrorist organisations.
There are also transparency and governance issues to address, which, if unresolved, benefit those who continue to gain access to these valuable resources.
Ireland echoes calls to encourage all States to continue efforts to end these illegal activities, and to hold to account all those who are complicit in the illicit trade.
Lack of accountability is a problem which goes beyond national borders.
We would welcome stronger legislative and regulatory frameworks and greater investigative and institutional capacities so as to better understand, prevent and counter crimes related to illicit trafficking in natural resources, and illicit financial flows. Achieving this requires the cooperation of all relevant stakeholders.
Ireland commends the work of UN Offices on Drugs and Crime and Counter-Terrorism Committee’s Executive Directorate. The Kimberley Process and the Nairobi process are some of the mechanisms that illustrate how this issue can be tackled.
The implementation of the recommendations from the 2021 Khartoum High-Level Regional Workshop on Natural Resources in the Great Lakes region can also have an important impact.
Ireland served as a Co-lead for the Financial Action Task Force’s study on money laundering arising from environmental crime.
The Task Force’s 2021 report showed that those engaging in environmental crime are generating significant profits by using front companies to mix legal and illegal goods and payments early in the resource supply chains.
Ireland fully supports this report’s conclusions and recommendations. We reiterate the importance of good governance, and engagement with member states, and regional and sub-regional organisations and entities.
We encourage the effective implementation of all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, and key UN Conventions. We recognise implementation of the Financial Action Task Force’s Standards as an effective tool to combat money laundering from environmental crime.
And we support the mandated sanctions regimes and the work conducted by their respective Panels of Experts. It is imperative that these Experts are given the necessary tools required to carry out their investigations and reporting on this urgent matter.