ACCORD Senior Researcher Salome Bronkhorst recently participated in a World Gold Council (WGC) Standards for Conflict-Free Gold roundtable, hosted by the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) on 5 October 2011, as part of the Council's global consultation on a new framework of draft standards to track gold. The framework is intended to ensure that gold can be certified as conflict-free, and applies to mining in armed conflicts - especially gold emerging out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
While the number of civil wars and inter-state conflicts has declined over recent years, gold and other minerals continue to fuel smaller rebellions in Africa and terrorism overseas. The industry-led initiative by the WGC forms part of broader legislative and other frameworks (such as the Kimberly Process and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, EITI) that seek to prevent and mitigate mineral-related conflicts.
ACCORD's participation in the consultation centred around the need for civil society engagement on the development of the standards, but also on their implementation and auditing processes. While auditing standards will be put in place to ensure gold is conflict-free up to refining, civil society organisations and think tanks have played a key role in the consultations to shed light on the causal pathways through which gold can fund, contribute and perpetuate conflicts. ACCORD in particular is well-placed to do so, given that it formed part of the Facilitation Team and functioned as strategic advisor to Facilitator Ketumile Masire during the Inter-Congolese Dialogue in Sun City in 2002. Through its Knowledge Production Department, the institution has also conducted research in the DRC and elsewhere, on the linkages between mineral resources and conflict.