11 February 2013

East Africa: Comesa Roots for Protecting Nature

Kampala — A draft code of conduct on corporate governance and social responsibility has been developed to improve the management of natural resources.

This was said by Secretary General of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)/African Union Liaison officer Ambassador Salvator Matata.

Matata explained that a study conducted at the beginning of the Peace and Security Programme in the region in the year 2000 revealed that one of the root cause of conflicts is the issue of governance, specifically the poor management of the exploitation of natural resources.

"Violent conflicts undermine peace and security which is a fundamental prerequisite for our quest for sustainable economic development and as a region we shall continue to engage in efforts to address them," he said at the workshop held recently in Kenyan capital, Nairobi to discuss the draft Code of Conduct for Corporate Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility in the COMESA region.

"As you may be aware, the COMESA region is endowed with abundant natural resources which if managed well would contribute to poverty reduction and wealth creation for citizens in the region, it is in this context that the member states decided to address root causes of conflicts arising out of illegal exploitation of natural resources," he said.

Matata added that efforts have been made in this regard by partner regional economic communities such as South African Development Corporation (SADC) and the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).

"COMESA seeks to compliment these efforts through a holistic approach in addressing economic dimensions of conflicts that include the development of national and regional policies on small scale and artisanal miners as well as law reform in the management of natural resources."

Matata stressed that although COMESA has paid attention to small scale and artisanal mining, the member states have realized that they also need to engage big businesses and investors in the region so that they can help in maintaining peace and security as opposed to contributing to violent conflicts.

"COMESA has thus decided to focus on helping member states govern our trade regime so that it contributes to the promotion of peace and security for economic development through a regional code of conduct for corporate governance and social responsibility.

I, therefore, call on you to take time and improve on the draft that is placed before you in order to enrich this process," he concluded.

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