Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, At a Security Council Open Debate on Conflict Prevention and Natural Resources

Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
June 19, 2013




AS DELIVERED

Thank you, Mr. President. I’d like to start by underscoring the United States’ condemnation of the terrorist attack on the UN compound in Mogadishu. Our deepest sympathies are with those injured, as well as the families of the deceased and the people and the government of Somalia.

Mr. President, I’d also like to thank you for convening this important debate on conflict and natural resources. And thank you, Deputy Secretary-General Eliasson, Mr. Annan, Director Anstey, and Ms. Grynspan for your briefings.

Since 1990, at least 18 armed conflicts have been fueled by the exploitation of natural resources. At least 40% of all intrastate conflicts over the last 60 years have a link to natural resources. The Security Council is currently dealing with several conflict countries in which natural resources have played a central role. From diamonds in West Africa to coltan in the Great Lakes region, the irresponsible exploitation and illicit trade in natural resources have financed conflict, motivated antagonists, and increased susceptibility to conflict by fomenting corruption and competition for wealth. For evidence, we need look no farther than the horrors perpetrated in Sierra Leone in the 1990s or the current conflicts in the DRC and CAR.

Moreover, the illegal exploitation of extractive resources often contributes to the unraveling of post-conflict peacebuilding processes. Conflicts associated with natural resources are twice as likely to relapse in the first five years. Societies that cannot responsibly manage the wealth of their extractive industries are at higher risk of instability and violence. In short, the illegal extraction and trade of natural resources are directly related to international peace and security and to this Council’s business.

National governments must lead in responsibly managing the natural resources of their countries for the benefit of their peoples. But the international community must support them in doing so by reducing the space for corruption and helping to strengthen national governance.

The United States actively promotes the responsible behavior of American companies in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. In July 2010, the U.S. Congress enacted legislation to diminish the potential for mineral supply chains to contribute to violence. Companies listed on the U.S. stock exchanges must now submit annual descriptions of their due diligence on the sourcing and chain of custody of conflict minerals from the African Great Lakes region. This legislation also elevated transparency standards in the extractive industries by requiring the disclosure of payments to governments for the commercial development of oil, gas, and mineral resources by certain companies. We welcome last week’s vote by the European Parliament to adopt a similar rule.

The United States also supports several related global initiatives. The Kimberley Process, which the United States chaired last year, strengthens governance in international trade in mineral commodities. Since its inception, the Kimberley Process has reduced the trade in conflict diamonds to less than 1% of the world’s total rough diamond trade from an estimated 15% in the 1990s. Multiple-stakeholder partnerships among governments, the private sector and civil society – such as the EITI are making significant progress in addressing the link between extractive resources and conflict. The United States urges all states to embrace EITI principles of revenue transparency and to support the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights Initiative, which promote the adoption of oil, and gas and mining companies of operational security measures that respect human rights.

Yet, intergovernmental regimes and multi-stakeholder partnerships are necessary but not sufficient. The Security Council must act as well. Since this Council last addressed natural resources and conflict in 2007, the Council has reinforced the Kimberley Process’ actions on diamonds in the Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia sanctions regimes and endorsed due diligence guidelines on conflict minerals in the DRC. We’ve also imposed and lifted a timber ban in Liberia and imposed a ban on charcoal exports from Somalia. In addition, last April, under the U.S. presidency, this Council called upon the UN system to strengthen member states’ capacity to secure their borders to combat the transnational flow of illicit goods that can fuel conflict and breed insecurity. Whether imposing sanctions, authorizing field missions, or supporting mediation efforts, the Council's attention to these threats must continue.

Natural resources remain indispensable to many countries’ economies. When managed and traded responsibly, these resources can accelerate development and improve living standards for millions. But when exploited for the benefit of the few or co-opted for nefarious purposes, they can fuel corruption, violence and conflict. States fortunate enough to be endowed with such wealth owe at least this to their people. And, we who sit on this Council owe it to them not just to discuss this challenge but to act in the numerous real-world cases where the illicit extraction and trade of natural resources threatens international peace and security.

Thank you Mr. President.

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PRN: 2013/101