July 22, 2015
My name is Soraya Aziz Souleymane. My goal is to ensure that the people of my country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), benefit fairly from the extraction of their natural resources. I am the Deputy Field Office Director for The Carter Center in the DRC, championing the Mining Governance program.
Prior to joining The Carter Center, I spent a year at the headquarters of Freeport McMoran, a mining company specializing in copper and gold. This was part of my 12-month leadership program with The McCain Institute. The program helped me improve my leadership skills and deepen my understanding of the mining sector in the DRC. Just before my return to the DRC, I participated in the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, which was the largest U.S. summit bringing together high-level government, business, and civil society leaders to discuss economic partnerships. On this occasion, I presented on civil society in Africa, including some recommendations for how the U.S. can help African countries enforce public accountability.
The aim of the Mining Governance program at The Carter Center is to ensure that key values for the mining industry, namely transparency, and accountability, are enforced through information disclosure and accessibility as well as monitoring, reporting, and analysis using Human Rights Impact Assessments and analysis of natural resource revenues.
Working as a secondary actor, our approach is to increase the organizational and technical capacities of Congolese civil society organizations to conduct research and analysis and to advocate for changes to rules, regulations, and action accountability. Our team ensures continuous learning of the local civil society by working with Columbia University (U.S.) and Sciences Po (France) to improve our civil society partner’s technical skills as well as to develop innovative, hands-on training manuals for comparing different revenues models and assessing the human rights impacts of industrial mining projects on local communities. Learning from international best practices and from leading academic institutions, we create contextualized content that fits with our local challenges and empowers civil society to take action.
This approach works well. In the eight months that I have been with The Carter Center, we have published four reports assessing the human rights impacts of major mining projects. We have also developed and published a tool to assess the transparency of mining investment and recommended improvements to information published in order to increase the transparency of both the public and private sectors. We have also contributed greatly to the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) by working hand-in-hand with our local partners, donors, and the Secretariat of the initiative. Last but not least, we have advocated for sound reforms to the Mining Code, which is currently under review. All these great achievements can be viewed on our recently revamped website.
I am happy to be on the right track in achieving my Leadership Action Plan and I hope to someday expand our organization’s focus from the industrial mining sector to other extractive industries, such as oil and gas, forestry, and hydropower.