Understanding Traceability vs. Certification

A key weakness in a number of recent assessments of progress on certification of conflict minerals in the Great Lakes Region is confusion regarding the concepts of certification and traceability. Certification, in its most broad sense, is about creating the conditions for long-term reform of the governance of mineral sectors. Traceability, while critical, is one small part of this bigger picture. Traceability refers to the use of documented and recorded identification to follow commodities or goods as they move through the supply chain. Ongoing confusion regarding these two concepts has not been helpful, and has more often than not muddied analysis of the progress and impact of efforts in the region.

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Transparency Key to Making Mineral Certification Work

A recently published Open Letter from Congolese and international academic and civil society leaders rightly focussed attention on the difficulties facing artisanal mining communities in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. These communities struggle with the presence of armed groups and public security forces, the governance demands of international actors, and the harsh realities of trying to market the minerals they scratch out from the earth.

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Voluntary Transparency Just Doesn't Cut It

When you think about transparency day in and day out, as I do, it is easy to get focused on the nitty gritty – why we need project and country level disclosure of information, what comprises a good definition of ‘project’ and so on and so forth[1] – and forget about the big picture.

But transparency is not some small thing, some side project; it is at the heart of a troubling development problem: the resource curse. Natural resource development is often accompanied by promises of job creation, new opportunities for local businesses, and increased funds for cash strapped government coffers.  Unfortunately, in too many cases, these are empty promises.

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Transparency's Trending

The past few weeks of the global transparency campaign have seen a spotlight placed on Canada.

On May 9th, during her pre-recorded video keynote address at the North South Institute’s conference Governing Natural Resources for Africa’s Development, Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala urged Canada to be a leader in advancing global transparency in the extractive sectors by implementing mandatory disclosure requirements for Canadian extractive companies.

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The Fight Against Artisanal Gold Smuggling in Eastern DR Congo

Victor Kangela, PAC Project Coordinator, Kisangani, DRC

For many years, high value minerals have been used by armed groups in the DRC and neighboring countries as sources of funding. Gold is one of the four most sought-after minerals in the DRC and attracts greed and conflict. The lack of a monitoring system for the production and trade of the minerals in eastern DRCongo, leads to transactions via illegal comptoirs and clandestine export to neighboring countries. 

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What’s Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander: Why Transparency Matters


The key findings of a recent World Bank report are not new: Africa's abundant mineral wealth is failing to dent poverty levels, and political elites (sometimes in close association with military men) are benefitting at the expense of ordinary Africans.

The paradox of plenty would appear to be alive and well. But lost in some of the media coverage however, was the Bank’s support for revenue transparency and institution building, two critical ingredients of good natural resource governance that lie at the heart of the work PAC does.

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