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Country Profile

DR Congo

Voluntary Principles In-Country Working Group Profiles

    • Overview
    • The DRC holds extensive mineral resources over a vast territory. At the beginning of the 21st century, efforts to relaunch production led to a period of intense privatization of the extractive sector. Foreign companies are now firmly established side by side to the small-scale and artisanal mining on which millions of Congolese continue to rely for their livelihoods. In a complex and tense environment, business operations face serious and persisting challenges to their responsibility to respect security and human rights norms. Security and human rights risk being negatively impacted by the public and private security forces used to control mining sites. Inefficient security arrangements by companies, poor oversight and deeply-rooted conflicts around access to natural resources fuel a flurry of risks for communities. 
    • How can we address these challenges ? Many stakeholders in the sector recognize that multistakeholder solutions are needed to implement international norms, monitor security and human risks challenges, and support good practices and good governance. A history of implementation of international norms exists in the DRC extractive sector, such as the EITI, OECD guidelines and Voluntary Principles. Multistakeholder groups have been active as early as 2006 in Lubumbashi in the industrial mining region.
    • DCAF has been involved in the DRC since 2018 to promote multistakeholder solutions to enduring security challenges. In three years, DCAF has actively supported three multistakeholder groups in different extractive contexts in South Kivu and ex-Katanga region. Since 2020, a national process towards VP membership and consistent implementation has rekindled the dynamic in the capital and can count on the support of the numerous VP members and partners present in the country.
    • Kinshasa Working Group

      Established: In 2013, the Embassy of Switzerland in DR Congo started convening VP members active in the country. As the center of political power and decision-making, Kinshasa is significant for gathering leadership and promoting the voluntary principles in DRC. The working group has initially acted as an informal group for donors and international NGOs to exchange information on their priorities and field projects. Government and industry presence were at first discrete. But recently, representatives from provincial Working Groups and the Ministries of Human Rights and Mines have started participating, bringing a new dynamic supported by DCAF through the SHRIM. 


      Membership: The group counts on approx. 20 participants representing the Ministry of Human Rights, Ministry of Mines, embassies of VP government members (CAN, CH, NETH, NOR, UK, US), international NGOs (DCAF, IA, ICRC, SFCG), international mining industry (Glencore, TFM), representatives of provincial VP working groups (South-Kivu, ex-Katanga).


      Activities: The group focuses on dialogue and awareness-raising of the Voluntary Principles at the national level. It supports current efforts by the government to establish a national VP strategy and looks for synergies with established structures and good practices for the implementation process.


      Impact and success stories
      - In 2020, following an official visit by the Swiss chair of the VPI, the Conseil des Ministres agreed on joining the Voluntary Principles Initiative. It has instructed the ministries of human rights and mines to lead on the process. Since then, a member of the ministers' cabinet attends meetings of the Kinshasa working group.
      - In October 2020, the DRC ministers of human rights and mines met with DCAF's director in Geneva to discuss technical support, avenues for collaboration and next steps in pursuing VP membership and implementation good practices. Ministers expressed their firm intention to work in a coordinated ministerial structure, also involving the ministry of Petroleum. An agreement was also found to organize provincial and national consultations in 2021, in time for the VPI plenary.
      - Several VP government members run development projects in the DRC on topics related to business, security and human rights. As part of the SHRIM trust fund, DCAF has worked specifically with donors including the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, in partnership with the authorities (police), intergovernmental bodies (OECD) and the Chinese chambers of commerce (CCCMC).
    • Haut Katanga Working Group

      Established : In 2006, Lubumbashi-based human rights organization Justicia Asbl started working to establish a dialogue between stakeholders to ensure that those impacted by adverse business practices can exchange and resolve these incidents. In 2017, a workshop was organized in Lubumbashi and identified the need for a fully-fledged VP Working Group covering security and human rights challenges in the industrial mining area around Lubumbashi. With the support of DCAF, Justicia Asbl was established as the secretariat of the group, which now counts on ample multistakeholder representation.


      Membership: Provincial authorities, representatives from tribunals, international and national mining industry, private security companies, local and international civil society organisations, representatives from public security forces. 


      Activities: The working group works on joint prevention of security and human rights incidents in the industrial mining context of Haut-Katanga.


      Impact and success stories
      - Following repeated interventions by the national army on mining sites, members of the Working Groups have started organizing missions to monitor the situation on the ground and sensitize actors on good practices. This has led to the de-escalation of incidents and risks including cases of unlawful arrests by security actors. More remains to be done to engage companies more widely and build the capacity of actors.
      - The Working Group has established an effective coordination with the Plateforme d'Investissement Durable au Katanga, better known as IDAK, a multistakeholder group previously supported by GIZ. By reporting on security issues, the Working Group helps IDAK formulate recommendations on good security practices.
      - In 2019, in a joint mission with the Swiss government and ICRC to Lubumbashi and Kolwezi, DCAF met with the working group to hold strategic meetings. The delegation visited large industrial companies sites, met with cooperative representatives, as well as local partners such as the China Chamber of Commerce for Metals Minerals and Chemicals (CCCMC) and the OECD.
    • South Kivu Working Group

      Established: In 2018, Observatoire Gouvernance et Paix (OGP) founded the group in Bukavu as a subsection of a technical OECD working group, to specifically address security incidents. With support of the SHRIM, the Working Group gathered stakeholders and quickly decided it was necessary to carry out field missions, sometimes in remote and difficult-to-access districts of South Kivu, and follow up on recommendations. Thanks to this approach, the working group has contributed to the de-escalation of conflicts around mining sites, raised the awareness of the Congolese army (FARDC) around good security practices consistent with national and international law. The work of the Group has been officially recognized by the Ministry of Mines, who has anchored the South Kivu Group in its own structure through the Comité Provincial de Suivi.


      Membership: Public security forces, artisanal mining cooperatives, international mining industry, local civil society organisations, community representatives, public authorities


      Activities : The Working Group aims to build trust and increase collaboration in a multistakeholder setting. It exchanges information and develops joint responses to security issues in the artisanal mining context of South Kivu province, offering lessons learnt and good practices. The group specifically monitors the capacity of the Mining Police to respond to security and human rights issues in line with their curriculum.


      Impact and success stories:

      - The Working Group has demonstrated its ability to effectively monitor public security forces practices after they receive their training, and to document incidents in a methodology developed jointly with DCAF. This engagement has led to increased awareness about human rights among Mining Police Units and a better understanding of what counts as human rights violations. 
      - In 2020, advocacy by the Working Group at provincial level in response to various incidents by the Mining Police led to the removal of a police commander who had allegedly committed a severe human rights violation on a trespasser. The Working Group has followed up by checking that appropriate judicial measures are taken and to ensure that impunity does not prevail.
      - In 2019, the Working Group initiated a successful mediation on the only industrial site in the region, belonging to a Canadian company, after reports of human rights violations by public security forces in the area.
    • Lualaba Working Group

      Established in: July 2020 by Justicia Asbl. This second working group in the large-scale mining region will be based in Kolwezi.


      Membership: The Working Group is in a phase of setting up and gathering stakeholders.


      Activities : With the support of DCAF, Justicia are currently conducting a stakeholder mapping and a baseline study on specific security and human rights challenges in the Kolwezi area.


      - A baseline study on security and human rights challenges is being conducted by the Working Group with provincial authorities, representatives from the industry, civil society and communities.

    SHRIM Projects

    • Technical support to the VP national process in DRC
    • Running from 2020 to 2021, the project supports the government of the DRC in joining the Voluntary Principles Initiative and in developing a coherent and targeted national approach to the implementation of the initiative, by capitalizing on the efforts of local platforms and by consulting stakeholders broadly.
    • Programmatic support to multistakeholder Working Groups
    • Ongoing from 2018, the project offers technical and thematic support to operationalize the groups and scale up their impact.
    • Pilot human rights training of the PMH (mining police)
    • In 2019, two trainings of specialized police units were rolled out over three-days and gathered nearly 70 participants who learned about sustainable human rights practices. The pilot training was conducted in partnership with Safestainable and the mining police (PMH). Thanks to an in-depth needs assessment of the South Kivu Mining Police, a curriculum was developed which addresses the lack of coordination among the mining sector’s key stakeholders. This lack of coordination and dialogue is often at the root of security and human rights risks. The project will now be expanded with training-of-trainers program to be rolled out in various Eastern provinces.

    SHRIM Partners

    country Resources

    key security links and human rights initiatives

    For information on the DRC'S engagement, visit the following membership pages: