As with many parts of the world, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is in the midst of a political crisis. President Joseph Kabila's refusal to step down in 2016 created instability resulting in bloody street protests. However, Kabila will not run for re-election in this year's presidential election, yet his shadow looms large, with intimidation already being reported by his supporters on some candidates. This political vacuum is bad news for the country's rich environmental resources.
The Congo basin contains 8 of the world's 15 UNESCO World Heritage sites - one of which is the Virunga National park (the first to be awarded this status). In a recent blog, I looked at an example of a mediation between an NGO and an oil exploration company looking to drill here (the same company mentioned in this article); the case settled following a denial of oil exploration rights and a reassertion that drilling would not be permitted in sites with such status.
Reading this article it looks like history is repeating itself. Cases like this show that in countries where pressures on rich environmental resources are great, and where dispute resolution isn't enshrined in law, the follow-up is critical to ensure case outcomes such as this do become law, to protect the environment. Should we consider mediation follow-up as important as the mediation itself? In environmental cases of global significance, the follow-up may be just as important as the case itself.
CEDR's Dr Karl Mackie CBE has mediated complex and difficult environmental disputes under OECD guidelines involving a wide array of parties. To learn more about Karl's mediation practice or to book him as a mediator, visit his website.
Ned Collier is a Marketing & Communications Manager at CEDR and an environmental campaigner.
According to a report in The Times in May, exploration licences have been signed for a fifth of Virunga national park, an iconic World Heritage Site, home to mountain gorillas.