The Support Platform for Traceability, and Transparency in the Management of Natural Resources (Groupe d’Appui à la Traçabilité et la Transparence dans la Gestion des Ressources Naturelles), known by its French acronym GATT-RN, is a coalition of twelve civil society organizations fighting to transform eastern Congo’s vast mineral wealth into a source of life rather than death. Our country has played host to one of the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophes for the past fifteen years, with some of the greatest atrocities occurring in and around mining sites. We believe that by working with and monitoring local and international actors, and by galvanizing a public movement advocating for their rights, we can end the exploitation of our natural resources and transform the minerals sector into one that promotes development and benefits the people of Congo.
GATT-RN was formed in March 2011, bringing together reputable Congolese organizations with unique expertise in mining and human rights abuses in the North Kivu province. We are the first coalition of its kind in eastern Congo, and are led by Chairman Prince Kihangi Kyamwami, a Walikale-native who has spent his life observing the militarization of the minerals sector. He is a trained lawyer, author, and co-founder of Bureau of Studies, Observation and Coordination of the Regional Development (BEDEWA ).
Our approach is three-pronged. GATT-RN seeks to:
- Inform local and international policies on mining sector reform in the region
- Serve as a whistleblower and third-party monitor to hold government and mining authorities accountable
- Educate and mobilize the public in eastern Congo to advocate for their rights
Our efforts over the past year have resulted in enhanced civil society representation in international efforts on mining reform. We submitted comments to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in support of strong U.S. conflict minerals regulations to counter the harmful submissions by corrupt mining stakeholders, and have fiercely advocated for the implementation of due diligence guidelines. Through our membership in the Great Lakes Region’s civil society platform on a certification process, GATT-RN convened or attended fourteen conferences and workshops in Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, and France with local and international stakeholders to shape the path forward. We are constantly called upon by international bodies for our knowledge base and unique perspective, and our members have been quoted in leading international publications.
Our first year has also focused on educating local communities about reform efforts. We translated and distributed information on pathway toward a legitimate mining sector to communities across North Kivu, and hosted two public discussions in Goma explaining how the U.S. conflict minerals provisions will benefit eastern Congo, the need for next steps, and the role of the Congolese government. Students, civil society members, international organizations, government officials, and mining representatives were invited to these dialogues.
GATT-RN operates against formidable odds in an environment dominated by, as even Congo’s President Kabila made reference, “a type of mafia”. The challenges we face to our lives and our work are immense because we are seeking to fundamentally shift a pernicious status quo, but attempts to intimidate group members have only strengthened our resolve. Last year, we became a nationally registered organization – no small feat in the environment in which we work – and are now looking to expand our efforts. However, we are a burgeoning organization operating in the face of severely limited resources.
With greater financial support, GATT-RN will procure secure office space in Goma allowing us to better coordinate work. We will strengthen our network by increasing our engagement with local schools, universities, church organizations, community development groups, and others to grow the movement calling for greater transparency and accountability in the minerals sector. We will empower communities to advocate for their rights through further trainings and informational resources. We will continue our efforts to inform international policies on Congo’s minerals, highlight the need for efforts on alternative livelihoods, and be the leading civil society voice for the establishment of an independent minerals monitoring system in the region.
Congo’s minerals wealth is a potential source of development, but until the current system is shaken, our communities will continue to be destroyed over the fight to control resources. We are steadfast in our efforts, and your support will go a long way in ensuring the expeditiousness of our success.
For more information, contact Fidel Bafilemba at email@example.com.