PAC: human rights, human security, sustainable development Canadian and African civil society organizations working together on issues of human rights, human security and sustainable development Partnership Africa Canada
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Program overview

Study Areas
  Sierra Leone
  West Africa
  Congo/Central Africa
  Southern Africa
  Trading, Cutting and
     Polishing Centres
  Corporate
     Responsibility

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Sierra Leone

The Freetown launch of The Heart of the Matter in January 2000 was well publicized in the Sierra Leonean press and electronic media. There was a one-hour live broadcast link between participants at the launch, the listening public in Freetown and the authors in Canada. This was followed by discussions which articulated the way forward. A voluntary Mining Task Force emerged, drawn from various activists and organizations. It developed and initiated the 'Campaign for Just Mining'. The Mining Task Force has since expanded its interest beyond diamonds to take on board other strategic minerals.

On the Sierra Leone Government side, much has changed since mid 2000. The Belgian Diamond High Council has worked with the government to initiate a certification scheme, the first of such detail and sophistication. Its degree of success will be of great interest to the diamond industry at large, because it is talked of as a model for the proposed global certification system. A cease-fire that was signed in November 2000 between the Government of Sierra Leone and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) has held through the early part of 2001, although violence has flared on the northern border with Guinea and on the borders between Guinea and Liberia, creating even greater hardship for tens of thousands of Sierra Leoneans.

While fighting continues, diamonds are likely to be involved. When peace arrives, it will be sustainable only if the diamond industry can be properly regulated and protected. The Network Movement for Justice and Development (NJMD) takes overall responsibility for the project in Sierra Leone, guided by the Just Mining Task Force, and with operational responsibility taken by a newly created organization, the Civil Society Movement of Sierra Leone (CSM-SL). The project will contribute to the promotion of just mining policies and practices in Sierra Leone by:

  • continuing the nationwide education on the impact of mining in Sierra Leone;
  • generating public debate and popular input into the mining policies of Sierra Leone;
  • researching, archiving and publicizing best practice and malpractice in Sierra Leone's mining sector, and promoting developmentally sound alternatives;
  • expanding and strengthening national and international strategic alliances in support of the project's goal.

The project has four components:

Education

This component will focus on educating Sierra Leoneans on mining and related issues in order to strengthen public capacity at community, district and national levels for effective dialogue and advocacy.

Consultation

The NMJD Task Force and CSM-SL believe that the Sierra Leonean community must own whatever recommendations are developed for policy makers and other allies. This will only happen through inclusive participatory approaches. Decentralized regional and national consultations are urgently required. If workable recommendations are to be proposed to policy makers, the public must be actively involved. A National Consultation will draw out the common ground for consensus, as well as alternatives where there are conflicting points. This will be an organized and dynamic tool for negotiation on policy, particularly at the national level but also inviting other networks to study our case and to bring legitimate pressure to bear on divergent interest groups.

Research and Documentation

This component will focus on research and documentation of mining-related issues, including violations of rights, environmental issues, investment codes, observance of mining policies, and case studies on what works or does not work in other parts of the world. A major priority will be public dissemination of findings.

Networking and International Alliance Building

Strategic alliance building and international networking will be important in building a bigger constituency, reducing security risks, and creating mechanisms that ensure the achievement of objectives. Through international networks we hope to understand why mining economies have benefited some countries but not others. Comparative studies will be undertaken, providing further material for campaign programming.

Further reports will be posted in the RESOURCES section of this site. Search Resources using key words such as "diamond".

April 2001

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