By Stephen Asante,
Obuasi (Ash), May 30, GNA – An International NGO, Fund for Peace (FFP), is leading efforts at tackling abuses in the country’s extractive industry – to make sure globally accepted practices are upheld.
It has begun the processes of engaging stakeholders to facilitate the drafting of a framework on voluntary principles (VP) on security and human rights.
Mr. John Messner, Executive-Director of the NGO, said the goal was to commit oil and mining companies to conform to set guidelines to make their operations more beneficial and less-risky to the communities in which they operated.
Speaking at a day’s workshop held in the gold-mining town of Obuasi, he expressed concern about conflicts in the extractive sector and said these had been the result ofthe negative impact of their operations on the communities and society at large.
He made reference to environmental pollution, loss of biodiversity, settlement and livelihood, security and human rights-related issues and said these had been at the heart of protracted conflicts.
The workshop, sponsored by the United States (US) State Department with technical support from the FFP and West Africa Network for Peace-Building (WANEP), an NGO, was to create awareness on the VP.
It was also to build the capacity of the participants, including assembly-members, security services, civil society organizations, mining companies, women groups and the media to advocate for the drafting and implementation of the VP.
This comes amid preparations to convene a national stakeholders meeting under the auspices of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources in July, to brainstorm on a national strategy and action plan for the purpose.
Mr. Messner stated that the VP, introduced in year 2000, had become the norm serving as the appropriate guidelines for companies to bring sanity to the extractive sector.
This enables stakeholders to consider the potential social impact of their operations, and to plan risk mitigation strategies to improve the socio-economic conditions of the communities.
Mr. Albert Yelyang, the National Network Coordinator of WANEP,said similar workshops had already been organized in the Upper East, Brong-Ahafo and Western Regions to share information and knowledge on the VP.
Conflicts resulting from the activities of oil and mining companies, he noted, could be resolved if all parties did what was right - guided by rules and regulations.