Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, December 10, 2018: The status of natural resource management in Africa is an old and recurrent problem. The abundance of natural resources sometimes contrasts tragically with the positive impact on received by the African populations and States. Natural resources can contribute to economic growth, employment, and fiscal revenue.
They are often a major source of national income but are also, if mismanaged or shared unfairly, are a major cause of conflict and instability. Against that backdrop senior decision makers and technocrats from the continent gathered today under the auspices of the African Union to exchange views on the theme for the 7th Forum of International Law and African Union law which is “The Management of Natural Resources in Africa”. The 2-day Forum is organized by the African Union Commission on International Law (AUCIL).
The Forum seeks to examine the prospects for a revised legal order to attain the Agenda 2063 goals of commodity markets, and new legal partnerships for exploitation and exploration of natural resources. The Agenda 2063 implies that this present generation will so manage the natural resources that future generations will have substantial resources to transform their economies.
The Deputy Chairperson H.E Amb. Kwesi Quartey addressed the opening session of the Forum and reiterated that the theme was highly relevant to the times and circumstances of Africa as captured in African Union document “Agenda 2063”. He made reference to the stark historical contrast in approach by the colonial powers at the Berlin Conference1884-1885. “We are, or rather, should be seeking a greater understanding of the significance and consequences of this event. If, as we say, that we in Africa are seeking integration and unity in accordance with the vision of Agenda 2063, then we are acknowledging per force of logic that we have become, for one reason or another, less than integral. It behoves us to examine this matter a little more closely. The significance of this Conference on Partition may go beyond the field of traditional diplomatic history and the history of international relations and, indeed, International Law” added H.E Amb. Kwesi Quartey.
Accordingly, he further highlighted the need for resetting Africa’s compass for managing natural resources if Agenda 2063 is to succeed. Amb. Kwesi Quartey concluded by underlying the importance of the shared strategic framework for inclusive growth and sustainable development and a global strategy to optimize the use of Africa’s resources for the benefit of all Africans.
During the two day meeting, participants will discuss several issues including the following:
• Legal and political concepts underlying the management of natural resources in Africa: From traditional to regeneration;
• Key and historical concepts developed in and by international law, such as National Sovereignty over National Resources, and their evolution through time as well their current relevance;
• Some of the current legal issues directly raised by the management of natural resources, such the incipient negotiations of a new international legally binding instrument on marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction;
• The relevance of soft law, international dispute settlement, as well as of various unilateral, bilateral, regional and transnational initiatives in the governance of natural resources;
• The identification and evaluation of the effectiveness of certain mechanisms of accountability of the actors involved in the exploitation of natural resources in Africa (The Kimberley Process);
• The safeguarding of financial gain, and maximizing of reinvestment in Africa of wealth derived from the exploration and exploitation of African natural resources;
• Standards relating to the social responsibility of companies exploiting natural resources;
• The harmful effects of the exploitation of certain natural resources on the availability and quality of certain resources essential to some vital human needs, such as water, air quality, etc.
Notes to Editors:
The African Union Commission on International Law (AUCIL) was established on the basis of Article 5(2) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union as an advisory organ of the Union. At its Twelfth Session in February 2009, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Assembly of the Heads of States and Government (Assembly) adopted the Statute of the African Union Commission on International Law, by its Decision Assembly/AU/Dec.209 (XII).
The establishment of the AUCIL was inspired by the common objectives and principles enshrined in the Constitutive Act of the African Union, notably Articles 3 and 4 which underscore the importance of accelerating the socio-economic development of the Continent through the promotion of research in all fields. It was also inspired by the common goal to strengthen and consolidate the principles of international law and to agree on common approaches to international legal development, as well as to continue to work towards maintaining standards in important areas of international law.
In line with Article 4 of the AUCIL Statute, the AUCIL shall have the following specific objectives:
• To undertake activities relating to codification and progressive development of international law in the African continent with particular attention to the laws of the Union as embodied in the treaties of the Union, in the decisions of the policy organs of the Union and in African customary international law arising from the practice of Member States;
• To propose draft framework agreements, model regulations, formulations and analyses of emerging trends in States’ practice to facilitate the codification and progressive development of international law;
• To assist in the revision of existing treaties, assist in the identification of areas in which new treaties are required and prepare drafts thereof;
• To conduct studies on legal matters of interest to the Union and its Member States; and
• To encourage the teaching, study, publication and dissemination of literature on international law in particular the laws of the Union.
The AUCIL is composed of eleven (11) Members. The AUCIL Members are elected by the Executive Council of the African Union for a period of five (5) years. Members of the AUCIL are eligible for re-election only once.
For further information, kindly contact:
Mr. Gamal Ahmed A. Karrar| Communication Officer| Directorate of Information and Communication, African Union Commission | E-mail: GamalK@africa-union.org
Mrs. Wynne Musabayana | Head, Communication Division, Directorate of Information and Communication, African Union Commission | E-mail: MusabayanaW@africa-union.org