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  • Writer's pictureInternational Lawyers Project

Research on Human Rights Violation Linked to Environmental Harms in Mining Companies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Beneath the green report

Situation


The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is among the five poorest nations in the world, with 73% of its population living in poverty. It also has the largest cobalt reserves in the world, accounting for nearly half of the world’s reserves. Cobalt is critical to the electrification of energy and transport which has made the DRC a main player in the decarbonisation transition worldwide.

The mining sector remains one of the key drivers of growth in DRC but exploitation of human rights and the environment by some mining companies have not led to  sustainable development.  Higher demand for cobalt means potentially more foreign investment; but this also poses severe risks to the environment and DRC’s local communities, should the law and regulations fail to provide protections and safeguards.


RAID, a UK-based non-governmental organisation requested support for its research on identifying human rights abuses linked to environmental harms at mining operations in the DRC and in Africa more widely. 


ILP’s Action


ILP’s volunteer lawyers conducted research on the legal framework regulating mining in the DRC. They compared the DRC’s laws with those in other African states, to assess compliance with national laws and international standards regulating the environmental impact of mining activities, and to understand international best practices. The findings will guide the organisation’s strategy in DRC when working to prevent human rights abuses linked to environmental harms and help them in exploring potential avenues for advocacy, including through litigation. It will also be used to educate civil society groups, non-government organisations and even relevant government agencies in DRC to ensure that the harmful environmental impacts of mining are prevented.  


Impact


RAID gained a better understanding of DRC’s environmental laws and the relevant international environmental standards on mining. This has enhanced the organisation’s capacity to utilise different remedies to combat human rights abuses in DRC’s mining sector, including through strategic litigation before national, regional, or international fora, and advocacy campaigns. Raising public awareness of the human rights violations and harmful environmental impacts resulting from mining, via litigation and campaigning work, will assist with pushing relevant DRC government agencies to address and prevent environmental harms and human rights abuses in the mining sector, through policy reforms and the enforcement of high environmental standards.

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