Minister Brou, Representatives of International Organizations, Distinguished Guests;
I am very happy to be here today to mark the official launch of the Property Rights and Artisanal Diamond Development (PRADD) II project in Côte d’Ivoire. I would particularly like to note the hard work of Minister Brou in leading the way to ensure Côte d’Ivoire’s full accession to the Kimberley Process as well as in the revision of the mining code, both key elements in the lifting of international sanctions.
The PRADD II project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, is a demonstration of the United States’ commitment to the implementation of the Kimberley Process, and more broadly to the principles of good governance and sustainable development. The expansion of the PRADD project to Côte d’Ivoire, through collaboration between USAID and the European Union, provides an opportunity to play a role in supporting the post-conflict transition of Côte d’Ivoire with a long-term project dealing with two key drivers of the conflict: land tenure and mineral resource governance. This project places a strong focus on the importance of a sustainable rural development and supports the Government of Côte d’Ivoire’s own priorities for national reconciliation, addressing drivers of conflict, improving government service provision and accountability, and boosting economic growth.
Côte d’Ivoire joined the Kimberley Process in 2003 – but because of the country’s prolonged crisis, it was unable to participate fully. During that time, however, the United States has been active in its support for increased transparency in the diamond sector through the creation of the Friends of Côte d’Ivoire Group – founded by the U.S. and now coordinated by the European Union. I believe that I can speak for all of the members of the Friends group when I say that we have been very pleased to see Côte d’Ivoire’s long-term efforts pay off through meeting the requirements of the Kimberley Process Compliance Scheme in November 2013, and the lifting of the UN embargo on diamond exports from Côte d’Ivoire in April 2014.
It is important to bear in mind that the lifting of the embargo is not an end in and of itself, but part of a long-term process, and besides continued support through the Group of Friends, the PRADD project offers way to truly consolidate this progress. I hope the Government of Côte d’Ivoire will take advantage of the support provided through PRADD as part of its efforts to deal with other related and complex policy issues, such as artisanal gold-mining and the legal framework for land tenure, to establish long-term conditions for peace and security more generally.
I would also like to mention that in the United States during the 1850s, we also faced this challenge of artisanal gold-mining in the state of California, with all of the negative social and environmental consequences that we see today in Africa and Asia. However, artisanal gold mining in California contributed to the development of our banking system, our transportation networks and to the emergence of an entrepreneurial class. I dare say that artisanal gold mining could and should likewise contribute to development in Cote d’Ivoire, and PRADD II is based on this logic.
In order to be fully successful, PRADD must be implemented through a close partnership with the government. I commend the hard work and close coordination between PRADD II and the government to date, including the presentation of the project to the Council of Ministers, and the approval of the work plan which involved the input of five ministries. Continued strong support from the government is critical to ensuring the project’s ultimate success.
While we are here today to celebrate the project launch, I also want to recognize that there is a great deal of work remaining to be accomplished between now and January 2015, when the UN-mandated Kimberley Process review visit will take place. PRADD is here to provide assistance with the complicated preparations for that visit, but ultimately it is up to the Government of Côte d’Ivoire to implement the transition strategy for the diamond sector. The government agencies on the ground need to have the appropriate resources to carry out their responsibilities, and government institutions need to have the mandate to implement reforms which are a central part of this process. Looking forward beyond 2015, for the PRADD project to have a full effect, the government must also maintain this support as a long-term commitment to stability and economic growth in management of the country’s natural resources.
Thank you again for your support for PRADD II, and I am looking forward to the opportunity to visit the communities which are taking part in the project in order to see first-hand the impacts on the ground.