Case Study: In-Country Working Group Support for Mediating Challenges in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Twangiza is the only industrial mining site in South Kivu. In this area, artisanal gold mining communities filled a vacuum created by a history of economic crisis and violent conflict. In 2009, one company established contacts with the local communities and offered them compensation to relocate to a delimited area. However, tensions arose over the relocation between the company, the mining police and miners. The local communities were frustrated with the lack of compensation and unmet expectations regarding employment. The mining police were accused of excessive use of force against the community and protesting crowd. There was also an alleged case of torture on a trespassing shepherd. Tensions mounted and eventually, confrontations between security providers and community members led the mining operations to come to a halt.

The South Kivu Voluntary Principles Working Group became aware of these incidents through its monitoring missions. To address the tensions, the working group cooperated with the local mining police to: raise awareness on human rights obligations, investigate and report misconduct by its officers and request follow-up at the provincial level. As a result, a commander was removed and two officers were arrested. In addition, the working group organised multi-stakeholder meetings at the local level, inviting representatives of the extractive company, local community and local security forces to discuss the measures taken to address the incidents. The multi-stakeholder dialogue led to a new security agreement that strengthened community engagement and made space for the community to express its grievances.

The intervention of the working group is a strong example of how multi-stakeholder dialogue can help mediate community-based challenges and address a legacy of security and human rights challenges around company sites.  

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