News

    Rights Groups Press New Mining Code in West Africa

    Multimedia

    Audio

    Throughout West Africa gold, bauxite, uranium and other lucrative minerals are being extracted from the land, but local communities benefit little or in many cases lose out. Human-rights and development experts at a recent meeting in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, say governments and mining companies share a responsibility to ensure that people are helped not harmed by mining. Nancy Palus reports from Dakar.

    Citizens who live near mining sites participated in last week's meeting in Dakar - the first in a series of consultations on a new mining code for the Economic Community of West African States or ECOWAS.

    ECOWAS led the April 17 to 19 meeting, in collaboration with Oxfam America. Eleven West and Central African countries were represented.

    Joana Manu is a farmer who was once arrested for tilling a parcel of family land in western Ghana. A mining company said it owned the land.

    "Farming is our only source of income. In our community our level of education is very low so we only rely on our farming. So when these mining companies come and then the government leases land for them it means we have to stop farming and if we stop farming activities how can we take care of our children and siblings and dependents? So I think there should be a law that protects our water bodies and there should be a law that the government should seek the consent of the community, of whether they like mining or they do not," said Manu.

    After defending herself in court, Manu was eventually able to return to farming her land. But members of the Ghanaian delegation at the conference said that is not the case for many. Mining operations often displace families and hurt agricultural production.

    Recent riots throughout West Africa over food price hikes have underscored the need to build up local production and safeguard rural communities' livelihoods.

    "There is a big competition between mining operations and other socio-economic activities particularly agricultural ones," said Mamadou Biteye, Oxfam America's regional director for West Africa.

    He says both governments and mining companies must be accountable.

    "Communities have the right to a harmonious and sustainable development, they have a right to a secure livelihood, they have a right to a clean environment - all of that is the responsibility of the state but also of non-state actors, to protect and fulfill those rights," added Biteye.

    Helene Cisse, a Dakar-based lawyer and a legal consultant on the mining code, says meaningful partnership among all concerned is the only way mining can be profitable in the long run.

    "We need productive investment. But it must be for the sake of everybody, for the interest of everybody," said Cisse. "And this is the basic idea of this mining code, to convince the people that there is no durable development, human development, if there is no partnership."

    Cisse says governments and civil society must put practical measures in place so the reality on the ground matches human-rights conventions that exist on paper.

    "What is really urgently needed in Africa, especially in the zones where mining resources are exploited, is to effectively implement social, economic and cultural human rights of the local population and the workers, if you want peace and stability and justice in this space," continued Cisse. "So this is the gap between international norms in terms of human rights and the regression in terms of effective implementation."

    A number of further consultations are planned with the private sector and other groups during the coming months before the West Africa mining code is finalized and comes before member states for a vote.

     

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora