|Delegation from Represented by the
Burkina Faso University of Colorado-Boulder
Position Paper for African Union
I. Addressing Conflict Minerals in Central Africa
Burkina Faso is deeply troubled by the situation regarding conflict mineral trade in Central Africa. In Central Africa, rebel groups funded by conflict mineral trade routinely terrorize citizens. In 2000, the Kimberly Process was initiated in order to control the violence accompanying conflict diamond trade, and to ensure the purchase of diamonds around the world would not further fueling conflict. In 2009, the Congo Conflict Minerals Act was passed in hopes that it would further regulate the illegal conflict mineral trade. Burkina Faso recognizes the steps that have recently been taken to control violence in the region and to promote legal mineral trade.
In 2003, Burkina Faso joined the Kimberley Process in hopes that this movement would help end the ongoing trade of conflict diamonds, and the violence that accompanies such trade. The Kimberley Process encourages countries involved in the diamond trade to certify their shipments, and ensure conflict diamonds make their way out of the diamond trade. Burkina Faso relies heavily on gold and the trade of gold to sustain its economy, and therefore acknowledges the difficulties associated with conflict mineral trade. Having experienced the violence caused by rebel movements firsthand, Burkina Faso is committed to bringing such violence in other African nations to a halt as soon as possible. Burkina Faso fully supports the Congo Conflict Minerals Act, which calls for multilateral cooperation to help bring the violence associated with conflict diamonds to a halt.
Burkina Faso stresses the need for multilateral cooperation on the issue of conflict minerals. However, Burkina Faso also recognizes the significance of such minerals to the economies of many African nations, and therefore recognizes the importance of the Kimberley Process, particularly the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), as such initiatives ensure that mineral trade can continue without the threat that conflict minerals pose to African nations, specifically the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Therefore, Burkina Faso recommends that conflict mineral trade in Central Africa be closely monitored through initiatives such as the Kimberley Process to ensure trade can continue, but without the violence that is closely related to conflict mineral trade.
II. The Situation Concerning Zimbabwe
Burkina Faso is deeply concerned by the situation in Zimbabwe, and sees the instability as a threat to the entire region. The United Nations has sent peacekeeping forces into the area on numerous occasions, and Burkina Faso strongly recognizes the right of state sovereignty within issue. Zimbabwe faces a multitude of issues with relation to humanitarian help. The country experiences many hardships economically, socially, and politically. Economically, the country is experiencing rampant inflation, and shortages of both food and fuel. Because of the country’s political isolation, the international community experiences a great deal of difficulties in assisting with these problems. Since Zimbabwe’s economy relies heavily on agriculture and does not have the technology it needs to compete successfully in this area, the industry is in great danger of collapse.
Being the third poorest nation in the modern world, Burkina Faso empathizes with the hardships that Zimbabwe currently faces. Burkina Faso also recognizes the role of Robert Mugabe’s regime in furthering these problems. Politically fueled violence plagues the nation of Africa, and because Zimbabwe has drawn attention from the rest of the world, Zimbabwe exemplifies the situation in many other African nations. The situation in Zimbabwe is deteriorating on a political and economic level, and therefore, neither can be overlooked as the political situation directly affects the economic situation. Burkina Faso has expressed its concern for the tyranny invoked by Mugabe’s administration. While Burkina Faso lacks the economic and political power to shape this administration, Burkina Faso has called on South African President Thabo Mbeki to mediate the situation in Zimbabwe.
Burkina Faso believes that the economic and social issues must quickly be addressed before the political issues can be addressed. Burkina Faso calls up the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to ensure that citizens fleeing the country have adequate aid, and also to help the integration of former citizens of Zimbabwe into other countries. Peacekeeping efforts is often construed as a means to undermine the government in Zimbabwe, and therefore, Burkina Faso urges the committee to find other means of providing aid in the immediate stages. Burkina Faso calls for aid from the World Food Program (WFP) above all else to provide food aid to the population. Burkina Faso suggests that, once these immediate measures are in place, the African Union can then begin to discuss the changes in government from the standpoint of pressure on Zimbabwe from countries within the region.
III. Strengthening Peacekeeping Capabilities in Africa
Conflict within Africa has been prevalent since the continent’s colonization, and it continues to be an issue both between countries and in the countries themselves. The UN has instigated peacekeeping missions in Africa, and most recently after the 1990’s has increased its efforts to maintain peace. Some of the challenges that still remain with peacekeeping efforts are the fact that peacekeepers are in high demand, violence and genocide continues to be a pressing issue, and the limited capabilities of the peacekeeping system itself. The Brahimi Report was put into place in 2001, and it has been described as the first comprehensive effort to address issues with current UN peacekeeping missions. However, this report does not address the issue of the lack of political will, which is an essential element in maintaining peacekeeping capabilities.
Recently, Burkina Faso has sent troops to join African Union and United Nations joint forces in Darfur (UNAMID). Burkina’s involvement with peacekeeping efforts has been substantial; military chief meetings have been held recently in Burkina Faso as well as an attempt at a new African peacekeeping force. Additionally, the Defense Institute of International Legal Studies (DIILS) has recognized Burkina Faso’s dedication to peacekeeping. In a recent conference, discussions on the Rules of Engagement and doctrine have been held. The Rules of Engagement delegate guidelines to Peacekeeping troops with regards to use of force in Peacekeeping situations.
Burkina Faso stresses the importance of such conferences and meetings and asks that other countries within the African Union follow suit. DIILS, UNAMID, and other comprehensive efforts to stem the current and future conflicts in Africa are some of the most important endeavors the AU can support. Advanced efforts must be made to strengthen peacekeeping capabilities within Africa, and these entities can aid with that cause. In order to attain a conflict-free African continent, Burkina Faso advocates the use of more military troops, a clearer legal understanding of the Rules of Engagement, and more Union-wide support across the continent.
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