Monsignor François-Xavier Maroy Rusengo is Archbishop of Bukavu and President of the Provincial Assembly of Bishops of Bukavu and Kindu, known for his commitment to the most vulnerable people in this region of eastern Democratic Republic Congo (DRC). He was one of the initiators of the Episcopal Commission for Natural Resources (CERN in French). This organization denounces and attempts to put an end to the illegal extraction of minerals in the region, as it finances many armed groups active in the region. The following is an opinion piece by the Archbishop, previously published on Euractive.com:
As an African archbishop working with mining communities in Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I look forward with great interest to the forthcoming European Parliament debate on the strategy for responsible trade in minerals from conflict zones.
Resources from the Global South extracted by Europeans were used to fuel the biggest wars and conflicts of all time. Later, those resources then helped build your peace and prosperity. I challenge you to be a consistent actor for peace also beyond Europe, taking your part of responsibility so that resources in Africa, Asia and Latin America no longer fuel conflict on our continents, but rather contribute to our own prosperity. When it comes to European companies trading in our resources, we hope that the draft “conflict minerals” regulation the European Parliament will now turn to examining will be at least as strict as our own supply chain due diligence legislation.
In many Southern countries, the control, extraction, processing and trade of resources like minerals, wood, gas and oil are financing armed groups, security and military forces who commit serious violations of human rights. And yet these resources urgently need to contribute to human development. There is a striking contradiction between the poor human conditions of the population in the mining districts in my country, and the mineral riches beneath the ground. The wealth of natural resources in the region has not always brought benefits for the common good – the trade in natural resources has benefited our people. However, it has wronged people socially, and worse, it has taken lives.
As a man of faith, I am certain that European citizens want to take moral responsibility for their choices. To make this possible is a shared responsibility of all: businesses, governments, civil society and citizens. The European Commission has taken a good step by publishing a legislative proposal that aims to prevent European companies’ mineral purchases from financing conflict or human rights abuses. Nevertheless, substantial improvements need to be made…