Natural Resource Exploitation and Human Security in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Seminar Report

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is immensely rich in natural resources but its people are among the poorest in the world.

This paradox is both cause and effect of the brutal exploitation of the country’s resources that has taken place since King Leopold, and that has fuelled such violent and devastating conflict. International Alert (IA) and Pole Institute believe that if a greater proportion of the benefit from the exploitation of the DRC’s resources is retained within the country, and there is more equitable distribution of this benefit to the local level, then this will contribute significantly to peace and development. How to effect this will require the perspectives and input of Congolese at the local level. Therefore IA and Pole have initiated a process to connect the experiences and perspectives of Congolese from different parts of the country with national and international policy processes. The seminar in Brussels in March represented the first step in this process of policy dialogue.

International Alert and Pole Institute have developed a joint 3-year programme of actionresearch and advocacy for eastern DRC. The partnership is based upon Pole’s access to community-level experiences, allied to a shared determination to impress these perspectives upon policy-makers in order to make national and international policies and practice more conducive to peace and development. The joint programme has been in operation since 2003, primarily funded by the European Commission through EuropeAid co-financing. There are a number of inter-related strands to the programme: an action-research process involving community groups from five provinces in eastern DRC; research into issues related to peace and development, such as micro-credit initiatives; and advocacy towards international policymakers, which draws upon local experiences and research.

Natural resource exploitation and management is a key focus of the joint programme. The seminar co-organised by IA and Pole in Brussels in March brought together representatives of Congolese civil society (from Kinshasa and the East) with international donors, policy-makers and analysts to reflect upon this issue. The report is organised in three parts: first, summaries of the seminar presentations and plenary discussions; then analysis of the issues discussed and some conclusions; lastly a sketch of relevant policy actors and processes, with a view to further research and advocacy.