Statement by Ambassador Günter Sautter during the Arria Meeting on the Great Lakes Region, July 15, 2020

15.07.2020 - Speech

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I thank the panelists for their insightful briefings on the illicit extraction of natural resources which continues to be a key driver of conflict in the region. It is of highest important that we continue to fight this even more so in times of COVID-19.

Let me make four points that are very much in line with the comments of many other colleagues here around the table. My first point is on the need for a comprehensive approach. The illicit exploitation of natural resources and the illegal trade of minerals has not only military and security implications. We will only be able to build and sustain peace if we apply a strategic mix that includes transparency, rule of law and the creation of strong institutions.

My second point is on regional cooperation. We will not be able to find sustainable solutions without strengthened regional cooperation. We therefore commend all efforts undertaken in this regard by the entire region, especially by the DRC. We call on the region to further increase cooperation. In particular, we would like to encourage all states of the region to pursue a joint approach regarding certificates and the implementation of joint standards.

This leads me to my third point on private sector partnerships. We encourage enhanced coordination and stronger partnerships with the private sector in order to counter illicit exploitation of natural resources. We encourage the private sector in turn to promote due diligence standards, traceability measures, responsible supply chain sourcing and corporate social responsibility.

My last point: we strongly believe that Special Envoy Huang Xia's Regional Strategy provides an important opportunity to address the region's challenge in an integrated way. We feel it would be missing an opportunity if this strategy were not to substantially address the key issue of illegal exploitation of natural resources.Germany stands ready to support this important work.

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