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'Resource Curse': Experts on West's Copper Mining-Linked Human Rights Abuses in DR Congo

© AFP 2023 EMMET LIVINGSTONEWorkers pose outside a trading depot in the artisanal copper-cobalt mine of Kamilombe, near the city of Kolwezi in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo
Workers pose outside a trading depot in the artisanal copper-cobalt mine of Kamilombe, near the city of Kolwezi in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 13.09.2023
Sputnik Africa sat down with a South African expert to discuss a recent report by human rights organization Amnesty International, which revealed that some Western companies are violating the rights of DRC residents in their cobalt and copper mines.
African countries that have valuable resources for the world economy acquire a "resource course," which translates into human rights being violated by the Western corporations and conflicts being born, Ashraf Patel, a senior research associate with the Institute for Global Dialogue and a member of the South Africa BRICS Think Tank Network, told Sputnik Africa.

"The angle of human rights abuse has, over the past few decades, been referred to by academics as the ‘Resource Curse’, a thesis that says if a nation has valuable resources that the global economy needs (i.e. oil, minerals, coal, copper) than it is bound to be cursed with conflict," Patel pointed out.

The expert explained that DR Congo and other African nations faced a similar fate in the 1990s during the cell phone boom, which created a need for lithium in the global economy. Today, as demand for electric transportation surges, there is a rising need for carbon and copper for rechargeable batteries, the researcher said.
"So in a sense African development is frozen and trapped in this 'Back to The Future’ dystopia," Patel remarked.
The expert added that the exploitation of the "underdeveloped and the core-periphery" had been highlighted by researchers in the Global South. As for the continent, Patel stressed, the UN Economic Commission of Africa has written extensive studies on the need for industrialization policies in the continent to help with benefaction from resources for over two decades.
Workers direct lorry traffic in Tenke Fungurume Mine, one of the largest copper and cobalt mines in the world, in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 13.09.2023
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Asked by Sputnik Africa what alternatives African nations have to cooperating with Western corporations, Patel noted that "the new era has seen the rise of multilateralism" and BRICS mechanisms can assist the continent.

"The most promising new multilateral institution-forum is BRICS Plus, which is offering a more equitable deal for the Developing South and for Africa," the pundit pointed out. "Institutions such as the New Development Bank and alternative currencies, as well as technology support can go a long way to meet the real development and industrial needs."

Speaking broadly, Patel called BRICS the "anchor for the Global South" and called on the "giants" among developing countries to help the less developed ones.
BRICS currently embraces Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, with 23 nations recently expressing a desire to join the economic bloc, including six that have already received a formal invitation to join the group.

West's 'Double-Standard' Africa Policy

According to Professor Chukwuemezie Raphael Eze, Professor in Political Science Department, Faculty Of Social Sciences in Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nigeria, the report released by Amnesty International is "in tandem with overall Western countries policy towards Africa."
In particular, the expert told Sputnik Africa that such Western policies include increasing the poverty of the African population by depriving locals of the means of production and livelihood, which is "necessary for continued Western dependency syndrome."
Furthermore, Eze pointed out that the West in its African policy counts on forcing migrants into Western countries to attract cheap labor, offers small compensation to mining projects-affected Africans to "destabilize Africa's political economy," and collaborates with local militia in a divide-and-conquer policy which leads to national disunity.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of the Republic of Guinea Alpha Conde during a meeting on the sidelines of the Russia-Africa summit on October 24, 2019.  - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 12.09.2023
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The general course of Western countries towards the continent is also double-standard, dictated by their interests and often involves the exclusion of unwanted rulers, the researcher added.
"The Western preaching of human rights and democracy promotion in relation to Africa is of double standard and national interest-oriented as despotic African leaders that cooperate with Western parasitic economic interests are protected while anti-imperialistic and nationalistic leaders are always either directly or indirectly eliminated, visited with excruciating sanctions, or arbitrary sent to International Criminal Court," the expert noted.
As for the alternatives that Africa has instead of cooperating with the West, Eze suggested that it should be the rise of "courageous political leadership" to power in African countries that would diversify ties "with the less exploitative and less dehumanizing world powers like Russia and China."
According to the pundit, Moscow and Beijing have been offering some "checks and balances" in the global arena, where "might makes right and justice is the advantage of the stronger."