• Agencies call for action on Afghan mining oversight

Agencies call for action on Afghan mining oversight

02 July 2013

BAAG and six of its member agencies have called on the Afghan government and donors to deliver on their commitment to strong and effective oversight of the country’s mining sector.

BAAG, Global Witness, Christian Aid,  Khorasan, Oxfam, Relief International and Tearfund were among 36 agencies who made the call in letters to the Afghan Minister of Mines and key international partners.

The letters were sent ahead of a meeting of senior officials in Kabul tomorrow to review progress made towards meeting the goals of a major international conference on Afghanistan in Tokyo a year ago.  Those goals included a promise to create a governance framework for extractive industries.  In Tokyo,  Afghanistan and its international partners agreed to develop a framework “that governs Afghanistan’s natural wealth through an accountable, efficient and transparent mechanism which builds upon and surpasses international best practices.”

The 36 agencies are calling on the Afghan government to use today’s senior officials' meeting to ensure that the potential of that framework is fully realised and that mineral wealth is used to benefit the Afghan people.

Global Witness said that in recent months  there have been widespread reports that the commitment made in Tokyo would be interpreted as meaning nothing more than the publication of mining revenues.  More was needed, it said,  to address the full range of potential challenges surrounding Afghanistan’s mining sector.  These included environmental and social issues, community engagement and consent, security and the need for transparency and accountability measures.

According to Stephen Carter of Global Witness, “The experience of other countries in conflict has repeatedly shown that there is a major risk that natural resources can harm, not help, development. The Afghan government has made some positive steps, but it is still unclear whether they will deliver on a truly effective extractives framework.  If they do, Afghanistan has a chance to be a model for other countries. We urge both the Afghan government and its international partners to fulfil their responsibility and act for the long-term benefit of the country.”