During her trip to Africa, Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton will visit a number of countries rich in natural
resources, such as oil, minerals, diamonds and timber. The group Global Witness is calling on her to
put a strong emphasis on managing those resources, while at the same time
the countries Mrs. Clinton will visit are Angola, Liberia, DRC and Nigeria.
Witness spokesperson Amy Barry talked with VOA about what's called the
were struck when we saw the list of countries that Secretary Clinton was going
to visit by the number of them that were suffering from or affected by…the
'resource curse.' [It's] the phenomenon
whereby natural resource wealth…can actually turn out to be more of a curse
than a blessing," she says.
of those natural resources enhancing a country's development, says Barry, they
can lead to corruption and conflict.
Being aware of potential problems
Witness is proposing specific actions for each country. But Barry says, "There is a broad overview,
which is…an awareness and an acknowledgement that this exists and that the
international community and the US government could usefully do more to address
says the international community should help developing nations avoid the
example, she says, "In Angola we would really look to Secretary Clinton to not
overlook some of the very concerning corruption issues…particularly around the
oil industry, in favor of promoting US security or energy interests."
Coincidence or corruption?
Witness says it's found the same names of people supposed regulating Angola's oil industry on a list of those applying for oil drilling licenses.
think that is at best an extraordinary coincidence and at worst an example of
the dangers of the resource curse and the corruption that it can lead to,' she
organization has released many reports on the eastern DRC, which has been plagued
by conflict for the last 15 years, leading to the deaths of over five million
people. Global Witness says the conflict
is being fueled by illegal mining operations conducted by armed groups.
really look to Secretary Clinton to acknowledge the role of the minerals in the
DRC as a real underlying driver of the conflict...and to commit the US
government to work with the DRC and other neighboring governments to address
the issue of warring parties' access to the mines," she says.
Timber in post-conflict Liberia
really hoping the current government will be able to learn from past mistakes
in that country and really manage its natural resource wealth better. As we all know, timber and illegal logging
helped fuel the civil war under (former president) Charles Taylor," Barry says.
is currently on trial for war crimes charges for his alleged support of rebels
in Sierra Leone's civil war.
are concerned the Liberian government is in breach of its own regulations…and
guidelines, which were put in place precisely to make sure that it did benefit
from its natural resource wealth," she says.
Oil fueled unrest in
Nigeria's Niger Delta
really be looking to the US not to overlook the concerns that exist around
conflict and corruption…. As with
Angola, Nigeria has suffered from corruption surrounding its oil revenues. And indeed, it's been a direct cause of the
violence conflict in the Niger Delta region," she says.
has taken steps towards transparency in the oil sector that the US should
support, says Barry.
"The Nigerians have their own
extractive industries transparency initiative, which is really looking at
tracing the money that surrounds the oil revenue. And making sure that it's going to the right
place and the right people are being paid in (an)...aboveboard way," she says.