Thank you President for putting this important topic on the agenda, and to Ms. Waly and Mr. Adeoye for your briefings.
Conflict over the management of natural resources is one of the key drivers of violence against civilians.
And nature crime gives rise to one of the largest illicit economies in the world.
It is closely linked to terrorism, organised crime, corruption, human rights violations, financial crime, and other threats to peace and security.
In many African countries, the illicit trafficking of natural resources constitutes a significant source of revenue for armed groups.
Gold, minerals, timber, charcoal, and wildlife products are all exploited and smuggled illegally out of conflict zones.
These activities fuel violence, and other conflict drivers, locally, and in the region.
Indeed, recent CTED analysis describes this method of financing as “strategically important” for a range of ISIL and al-Qaida affiliates on the continent.
Therefore, we clearly need a collaborative and holistic approach to:
end illegal exploitation; strengthen natural resources management; and address systematic weaknesses that enable illicit flows and economic corruption.
Let me explore three lines of work that should be taken up towards this end:
1) On the national level, institutional weaknesses need to be tackled.
It is important to create robust governance mechanisms, strengthen core institutions, and democratic oversight.
Domestic regulatory frameworks are crucial, including: licensing regimes, monitoring practices, and enforcement mechanisms like law enforcement.
In this, technical assistance remains important.
2) Regional cooperation is vital to support both national and global efforts.
The African Union’s High-Level Panel on illicit financial flows- and its report- demonstrated important leadership.
Regional bodies are often best placed to promote effective knowledge sharing.
Furthermore, the Financial Action Task Force is the global standard setter for combatting money laundering and terrorist financing.
Its Global Network with regional bodies, are important to ensure effective implementation of the standards.
This brings me to my third point that:
Global and multilateral cooperation are key.
Illicit flows do not respect national borders.
Norway and the U.S. recently launched the “Nature Crime Alliance”.
We hope this will: raise political will, mobilise financial commitment, and bolster operational capacity.
The recommendations of the High-Level Panel on Financial Accountability, Transparency, and Integrity also provide important food for thought on addressing the limitations of current financial systems.
Increased transparency, and global anti-corruption standards, are among the panel’s recommendations.
Sanctions of the Security Council are also an important contribution to stopping illicit trafficking.
They could be strengthened by adopting further designations- not only on direct perpetrators- but also entities and actors who benefit of illicit trade in natural resources further down in the supply chain.
We also seek a better synergy of UN efforts.
Including through creating a closer link between the work of the panels of experts’, peacekeeping missions, and relevant national governments.
And creating dedicated focal points to exchange information related to natural resource exploitation.
This very Council has already recognised the negative impact of illegal exploitation and trade in natural resources on: conflict prevention, post-conflict peacebuilding, and the consolidation of peace.
To meet the scale of this threat, we need broad-ranging and targeted national, regional, and multilateral efforts.