March 01, 2016

New Toolkit Helps Congolese Communities Affected by Industrial Mining Defend their Rights

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), one of Africa’s most mineral-rich countries, local communities face significant challenges  associated with large-scale development projects and are often not involved in decision-making processes impacting their livelihoods. Given the increasing number of industrial mining projects in the DRC and the country’s vast mineral wealth, one very important question arises: can industrial mining improve the lives of Congolese communities?


To promote a participatory approach in the toolkit design, ABA ROLI conducted a series of consultations with local communities in South Kivu, and held a workshop for non-governmental organization representatives and local and traditional authorities on the guide’s content. 

Although industrial mining exploitation in the DRC varies from province to province, it presents a troubling pattern of lack of information and transparency as local communities seek to assert their rights and benefit from these projects. To help address this, the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) has been working in the eastern province of South Kivu to increase access to justice for and empower local communities affected by industrial gold mining with support from the 11th Hour Project of the Schmidt Family Foundation.

In March 2016, ABA ROLI finalized the first version of a toolkit providing Congolese civil society and local communities with strategies and tools to better understand industrial mining. The toolkit lays out actions communities can take, guidance on how to reduce harm to their lands, livelihoods and environment and also share the benefits through processes like community development agreements. The toolkit provides a comprehensive framework for rights and responsibilities of local communities, mining companies and government authorities in the context of industrial mining informed by national legislation, international and regional human rights instruments, industry standards and experiences of other communities.

To promote a participatory approach in the toolkit design, ABA ROLI conducted a series of consultations with local communities in South Kivu, and held a workshop for non-governmental organization (NGO) representatives and local and traditional authorities on the guide’s content. ABA ROLI also established a technical group and a multi-stakeholder group of experts who provided feedback to the drafting process.

“We applaud ABA ROLI for this initiative that will contribute to the respect of human rights in the Congolese mining sector. We also thank you for having included our organization in the drafting process of a tool that fills a significant gap in resources available to help local communities understand and defend their rights adequately vis-à-vis the government and mining companies.”

- Fabien Mayani, Advocacy Coordinator for The Carter Center's Extractive Industries Governance Program

The first edition of the toolkit as well as its sources can be downloaded here. ABA ROLI will update and revise the toolkit – a living document – as we continue work with a broad range of partners in other provinces of the DRC, and as civil society organizations and local communities continue to use it.

To learn more about our work in the DRC, please contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org