23 January 2013

West Africa: Publish Ecowas Directive On Mining - International Consultant Tell GOL

A visiting international consultant of OXFAM has called on the Government of Liberia (GOL) to publish the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) directive on mining. Amongst other things, the directive calls for transparency and accountability between mining companies and member states of the regional body. Professor Oumar Ndongo wants the Liberian government to make public the document in order to ensure the full compliance of the ECOWAS Directive.

According to Prof. Ndongo, civil society organizations operating in Liberia have little or no understanding about the ECOWAS directive on mining. He stated that Liberia has not yet met what he called the "standards of publishing the directive" and informing the ECOWAS Commission.

He made the call on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 when he addressed a news conference in Monrovia. He is ending a three-day visit to Liberia, which commenced on January 20, 2013. The objectives of his mission included: Update of civil society actors, OXFAM partners working on extractives in particular on progress made on the ECOWAS mining directive, and to assess the level of engagement of all stakeholders in the promotion of the mining directive and the ECOWAS Mineral Development Policy among the mining communities etc.

Speaking further, Prof. Ndongo termed as "critical" Liberia's numerous situation in the mineral sector. The visiting International consultant of OXFAM pointed out that the legal instrument must be adhered to in order to bring sanity to the sector.

"It is true that Liberian officials took part in all meetings leading to the adoption of the Mining Directive and the formulation of the Mineral Development Policy, it is, however, important to note that Liberia status with regard to gazetting of the ECOWAS Directive is not clearly stated. Liberia, as it appears, has not yet met the standards of publishing the directive and informing ECOWAS. Information gathered, it appears that Liberia still needs to receive notification from the ECOWAS Commission to gazette. Information will be sent to ECOWAS to do so as soon as the mission is concluded," he indicated.

He continued: "The mission also reveals that civil society has little or no understanding of the process relating to the ECOWAS Directive. Participation has always been for government national experts. Therefore, it is important for documentation to be made available for civil society actors to be fully aware of the role they should play in the way forward leading to the Regional Mining Code. It also appeared that Liberia has no problem signing international texts but implementation is very slow."

During the mission, Prof. Ndongo added, the civil society expressed its readiness to welcome any development in this area and opened its space for a policy forum discussion that will further highlight the management of this important sector.

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