Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Monday, March 02, 2009

"Sierra Leone: Mining often coincides with environmental degradation, brutal conflict," IPS, February 28, 2009.

Resource extraction in West Africa has often coincided with environmental degradation and brutal conflict. Activists further charge that the agreements between governments and transnational mining companies do little to benefit local communities. Yet in 2008, an attempt by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to change this by developing a common mining code for the region was unexpectedly challenged by civil society groups.

Third World Network Africa (TWN) was among those opposed, and Abdulai Daramani, told IPS that TWN - part of an international coalition engaged in research and advocacy on environment and development issues - supported creating a common code. However, he felt the ECOWAS initiative was premature. In his view, the process blocked citizen involvement - he says development of an inclusive code will only be possible after regional and local consultation and input.
The criticisms had their effect: what is now in place is a convention, a set of broad principles of intent that may form the basis of a future common code.

IPS asked Daramani about the challenges of ensuring environmental justice for resource-rich communities in West Africa.

  During the years when economic reforms were launched in the 1980s through the early 1990s, we saw a complete lowering of standards in all aspects of mining.

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