IPIS Briefing July 2020 – Opportunities and risks for responsible sourcing of gold from Sudan

The IPIS briefing offers a selection of articles, news and updates on natural resources, armed conflict, Business & Human Rights and arms trade.  Every month, an editorial and related publications shed a light on a specific topic in IPIS’ areas of research.

In focus: Opportunities and risks for responsible sourcing of gold from Sudan

In the news: A Resource Guide to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Second Edition; Final report of the Panel of Experts on the Central African Republic extended pursuant to Security Council resolution 2507(2020) (S/2020/662); Report on violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the Allied Democratic Forces armed group and by members of the defense and security forces in Beni territory, North Kivu province and Irumu and Mambasa territories, Ituri province

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This briefing is produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of IPIS and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.


Sudan is a major gold producer. As of 2018, it was the twelfth largest gold producer in the world and the third largest in Africa with an estimated production level of 93 tonnes annually. As in many African countries, about 90% of the production is from artisanal mining, employing an estimated 2 millionindividuals. Since South Sudan gained independence in 2011, and Sudan lost most of its oil reserves, gold became increasingly important for the Sudanese government. In need of foreign currency, the country has become more and more dependent on gold, its biggest export product since 2012. 

This briefing discusses three interlinked issues of the Sudanese gold sector: smuggling, corruption and conflict financing. It describes the recent gold market reforms that aim to combat smuggling and explains that, at the same time, these reforms create a potential to source responsibly from Sudan.

There is substantial evidence of the involvement of armed actors in the industrial and artisanal mining sector. Since 2012 armed groups have been involved in gold mining in Jebel Amir mines in Darfur, Sudan’s most lucrative gold mines. In 2017 the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) (1) took control over these mines. The RSF also controls mines in South Kordofan. In its most recent report, the UN Group of Experts (resolution 1591, 2005) reported that non-state armed group SLA/AW in Jebel Marra uses gold mining as a source of financing and allegedly used profits to buy weapons.

When it comes to corruption, there is a strong involvement of the military and security apparatus in the gold supply chain in Sudan. The military controls a network of companies involved in the gold trade (2). In June 2019, after months of civil protests, the protesters and the interim military government agreed on a three-year transition period which should lead to elections under a power-sharing deal between the military and the civilian opposition. The military however retains the key ministries of Defence and the Interior. The military control of these ministries strategically protects their interests in the gold sector.

The recent transfer of the Jebel Amir mines in Darfur controlled by RSF to the Government is a positive step to address the military involvement. However, few details of this transfer are known, and it will remain to be seen whether the proceeds from gold will indeed be used for the public good. 

According to different estimates, 50 to 80% of Sudanese gold is smuggled abroad. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is by far the largest importer of Sudanese gold. Global trade data from 2018 shows the UAE imported 99% of Sudan’s gold exports (3).

IPIS is currently conducting a trade gap analysis, comparing the export data of Sudan with the import volumes of its trading partners. This analysis indicates large discrepancies between Sudan’s gold exports and the trading partners’ imports, most likely explained by smuggling. Again, the discrepancy between exported and imported gold is most significant in the case of the UAE (4). This is alarming, but not surprising, in light of Dubai’s enabling environment for transnational illicit gold flows, highlighted by two reports recently published by the FATF and CEIP.

Before January 2020, Sudan’s Central Bank was the only body legally allowed to buy and export gold. The Central Bank bought gold at a discounted rate compared to the international price. However, because the Central Bank did not have the financial resources to buy the gold, it had to print additional currency. This increased the supply of money, helping to push inflation up to 67% between 2011 and 2017. So, although the Central Bank bought gold above market price, because it used the official exchange rate for Sudanese pounds, traders could get much better prices at the black market. This policy thus encouraged smuggling. 

A Government measure introduced in January 2020 allowed private mining companies to export up to 70% of their production, selling the other 30% to the Central Bank. Last month, the Sudanese government went even further in liberalising exports. On 16 June, the Higher Committee for Economic Emergency, chaired by General Hemedti (5), announced to open the gold trade to private firms and preclude government bodies, including the Central Bank, from exporting gold. On 27 July, the first “strategic shipment” of two tonnes of gold, produced by more than 70 companies, left the country.

The privatisation of gold trading can stimulate formal trade. However, in the current state of affairs where the security apparatus controls at least part of the gold trade, the privatisation also creates risks by empowering security actors in the (formal) gold sector.

At the same time, the recent market reforms created for the first time the potential for importers of Sudanese gold to differentiate between conflict-affected gold and relatively conflict-free gold. Before the measures taken in 2020, conflict-gold was mixed with gold from other conflict-free Sudanese regions because it was centrally refined in the Sudan Gold Refinery owned by the Central Bank. This meant that it was not possible to distinguish the origin of the gold; hence, all Sudanese gold was red-flagged. The new measures give Sudan the potential to export gold from its stable regions according to the OECD Due Diligence Guidelines and the EU Regulation on Conflict Minerals. Obviously, more issues such as corruption will need to be tackled to source responsibly. That being said, this new opportunity to differentiate in the origin of the gold is a significant ‘side-effect’ of the market reforms.

The effect of this opportunity will depend on downstream companies. Responsibly sourced gold from Sudan could get a boost if the downstream companies are more vigilant in their due diligence, requesting full disclosure of the origins of Sudanese gold. Moreover, if traded formally, this will increase revenue for the State through the collection of royalties and taxes (6).

Unfortunately we are currently far removed from this situation. Sudanese gold easily finds its way to the international market. As illustrated in two reports published this month by Global Witness and Swiss Aid, Sudanese conflict gold can end up in the supply-chain of the most respected companies. The researchers argue that by sourcing gold from Sudan’s Central Bank, UAE-based refiner and trader Kaloti became a supplier linked to armed groups through the Central Bank’s gold purchases from mines occupied by armed groups.

As long as downstream companies continue to buy Sudanese gold linked to armed groups, corruption, smuggling and conflict financing will not be eradicated. Political and economical reforms in Sudan alone cannot fight the corruption as long as the demand will be there. Refiners and end-users must perform their due diligence and use the opportunity created by the recent market reforms to request information on the origin of the gold. 

Lotte Hoex

(1) The Rapid Support Forces, emerged from the Janjaweed under the umbrella of the National Intelligence and Security Service, and are integrated in the Sudan Armed Forces but still with its own command structure.

(2) For example, US issued sanctions against Russian financier Yevgeniy Prigozhin. Meroe Gold, a mining company listed in these sanctions, is still active in Sudan and has reportedly deep ties to Sudan’s security forces.

(3) Comtrade data from 2018, countries importing gold (commodity code 7108) from Sudan.

(4) IPIS analysis on gold in Sudan is expected to be published in fall 2020.

(5) Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, deputy head of the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

(6) Global Financial Integrity estimates that gold smuggling caused a potential revenue loss of US$575.2 million for the Government of Sudan over the period 2012-2018.


Sudan starts regulated gold export | 28 July 2020 | Dabanga Sudan
On Monday, Sudan’s Sovereign Council inaugurated its first shipment of gold, through the governmental Strategic Commodities Portfolio. The prime minister, a number of ministers, specialists and representatives of the Forces for Freedom and Change attended the ceremony.

New report reveals risk of links between Sudanese conflict gold and major companies | 23 July 2020 | Geographical

The link between gold – used around the world for everything from fine jewellery to statues, mobile phones to dentistry – and conflict has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. In particular, human rights groups have pointed to the way that gold is fuelling and financing ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where armed groups and members of the Congolese army have made millions of dollars through illegal control of the minerals trade.

NGOs warn conflict gold can reach Swiss refiners via Dubai | 21 July 2020 | Swissinfo

Swiss refiners — chief among them Valcambi — are under scrutiny due to the high risk of conflict gold originating in Africa entering their supply chain via the United Arab Emirates. Two parallel NGO reports on the subject were published on Thursday.

US Sanctions Aim to Keep Russian Financier from Meddling in Sudan’s future | 20 July 2020 | VOA News

Known as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “chef” because of the billions he made in the catering business, Russian financier Yevgeniy Prigozhin had far more cooking abroad, including meddling in U.S. elections and suppressing democracy in Sudan, according to U.S. charges.

The United States Imposes Sanctions on Russian Financier’s Global Sanctions Evasion Network | 15 July 2020 | US Department of State

Today, the United States took action to further limit Yevgeniy Prigozhin’s destabilizing global activity by designating entities that have enabled his ability to evade sanctions – this time, in Sudan. These designations include Private Military Company (PMC) Wagner’s apparent cover entity in Sudan, M Invest, its subsidiary Meroe Gold, and their leaders, Andrei Mandel and Mikhail Potepkin. Prigozhin’s global malign activities are well-documented, as demonstrated by his designation under multiple U.S. sanctions authorities.

Dubai’s Role in Facilitating Corruption and Global Illicit Financial Flows | July 2020 | – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Dubai is just one of many enablers of global corruption, crime, and illicit financial flows, but addressing the emirate’s role presents anticorruption practitioners, law enforcement agencies, and policymakers with particularly complex challenges.

Beneath the shine: a tale of two gold refiners | July 2020 | HRW

The world’s largest gold refiner, Switzerland-based Valcambi, has sourced over 20 tonnes of gold from UAE-based refiner and gold trader Kaloti, which likely purchased Sudanese conflict gold in 2012 and was at high risk of doing so in subsequent years, our new investigation reveals.

Golden detour, the hidden face of the gold trade between the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland (pdf) | July 2020 | SwissAid

This study is the result of a survey and analysis conducted by SWISSAID in Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates be- tween October 2019 and July 2020. Many gold sector stake- holders were interviewed during a trip to Dubai at the begin- ning of 2020. The survey was also supplemented by a number of visits and interviews in the famous gold souk. The British non-governmental organisation Global Witness also carried out a parallel survey on the gold trade.

Sudan further opens gold trade to private sector | 17 June 2020 | Reuters

Sudan, a gold producer, has taken steps to open up the trade in the precious metal further to private investors, allowing them to handle all exports and taking the business out of state hands, the Sudan News Agency (SUNA) reported on Tuesday.

Sudan and Trade Integrity | 31 May 2020 | Global Financian Integrity

Global Financial Integrity (GFI) has produced a comprehensive report, estimating the magnitude of trade misinvoicing since 2012 with a particular focus on the crucially important crude oil and gold sectors, given that these two commodities accounted for nearly half (47 percent) of Sudan’s exports by value in 2017. GFI also completed a regulatory and legal analysis of Sudan’s oil and gold sectors and has provided policy recommendations for all three areas of research.

Anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing measures, United Arab Emirates, Mutual Evaluation Report | 30 April 2020 | Financial Action Task Force

The United Arab Emirates recently strengthened its legal framework to fight money laundering and terrorist financing but, as a major global financial centre and trading hub, it must take urgent action to effectively stop the criminal financial flows that it attracts.

How Sudan’s gold boom is changing labour relations in Blue Nile state | March 2020 |

Sudan’s Blue Nile state, which borders Ethiopia’s Benishangul-Gumuz region on its eastern side, and South Sudan’s Upper Nile region on its south-west frontier, has a long history of small-scale artisanal gold mining. Gold is found in the region’s hills and in the alluvial planes south of the Blue Nile. In Blue Nile, artisanal gold mining has historically been a communal or household activity—an additional means of income generation to supplement agriculture. However, a gold-rush in Sudan which began around a decade ago and intensified after the secession of South Sudan in 2011, has begun to change the relationship that communities in Blue Nile have with gold mining.

Final report of the Panel of Experts on the Sudan (S/2020/36) (pdf) | 14 January 2020 | UN Security Council

The report was provided to the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1591 (2005) concerning the Sudan on 27 December 2019 and was considered by the Committee on 10 January 2020.

The Mercenaries Behind Russian Operations in Africa | 15 November 2019 | The Jamestown Foundation

On October 24, Russia concluded its Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi, seeking to deepen Moscow’s relations with the continent. Notably, security cooperation formed a key component of the agenda (, October 24). However, Russian security operations in Africa prove more nuanced, as Russia deploys private military companies (PMC) to pursue its geopolitical ambitions. Echoing its Syria strategy, Russian PMCs operate in Libya, Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR), among other countries.

Sudan’s Gold Sector: Opportunities and Risks | 16 October 2019 | Sudan In the News

The Sudanese gold industry presents a great opportunity for foreign direct investment. However, as indicated by the unrest caused by socially irresponsible gold mining in Sudan’s peripheral regions, there are several reputational and regulatory risks for potential international investors.

Poisonous practice: the ongoing fight to close Sudan’s gold mines | 12 October 2019 | Ayin

“Companies leave our land! Health before everything!” shouted demonstrators last week in Kalogi, South Kordofan State. Civilians are in protest over the on-going presence of gold mine companies whose widespread use of cyanide in their gold extraction process continues to detrimentally affect the environment, local citizens told Ayin.

Vigils continue as South Kordofan gold mining persists | 16 September 2019 | Dabanga

Protests by residents of the localities of Talodi and Kadeer in South Kordofan are still ongoing against the gold exploration companies in the state, despite an order by the acting governor (wali) for an immediate stop to all gold mining activities in the state on Wednesday.

Livestock, birds die after mining resumes in southern Sudan | 28 July 2019 | Dabanga

Environmentalists reported the death of a large number of livestock and birds in Rashad and El Tadamon in South Kordofan, following the resumption of mining in the area according to a decision of the acting governor of the state.

People in South Kordofan reject traditional gold mining | 9 Augustus 2015 | Dabanga

The Abu Jubaiha Citizens’ Committee in eastern South Kordofan has called on all people living in the locality to oppose the establishment of gold mining companies in the area.



RESOLVE and Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) Join Forces to Better Support Responsibly Sourced and Artisanally Mined Diamonds and Other Minerals | 22 July 2020 | Resolve | CSRwire

RESOLVE and the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) have joined forces in a program merger to bolster both organizations’ capacity to support the responsible sourcing of artisanally mined diamonds, gold, cobalt, “the three Ts” (tin, tantalum, and tungsten), and other minerals.

Supply Chain Law in Germany: Current steps towards a mandatory human rights due diligence law | 22 July 2020 | Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

Germany is currently working on a mandatory human rights due diligence law (“Lieferkettengesetz” or “Sorgfaltspflichtengesetz”) that would oblige large German companies to take appropriate measures to prevent human rights violations in their business activities and supply chains. If companies fail to comply with the law, they may face civil liability for damages and risk sanctions.

Tesla Congo Cobalt Deal Means Millions for Sanctioned Gertler | 22 July 2020 | BNN Bloomberg

Elon Musk may help sanctioned Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler get a little richer. Tesla Inc., the company Musk runs, struck a deal last month with Glencore Plc to buy as much as 6,000 tons of cobalt annually for use in the rechargeable batteries that power its electric vehicles. Glencore, in turn, is obligated to pay Gertler about 2.5% of sales from its mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo – royalty rights he acquired from state-owned miner Gecamines.

Human Rights Due Diligence: Increasing Regulatory Pressure for Clean Supply Chains | 21 July 2020 | Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

There is increasing regulatory, commercial and media attention in the U.K. and the EU regarding the role of human rights in company supply chains.

Congo struggling in fight to keep children out of mining industry | 20 July 2020 | Crux

Event though the Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the richest sources of mineral wealth in the world, the people of the country remain among the globe’s poorest. Even worse, many of the miners are children, risking their lives to try and save their families from poverty. Dominicans for Justice and Peace, a Catholic NGO, have been raising awareness on the issue at the United Nations.

The Second Edition of the FCPA Resource Guide: Focusing on Due Diligence, Cooperation, and Compliance Programs| 13 July 2020 | The National Law Review

On 3 July 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released the second edition of the Resource Guide to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (Resource Guide or Second Edition). The first edition of the Resource Guide was released in November 2012 and was widely viewed at the time as a helpful compilation of prior U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) actions, caselaw, and government policies regarding FCPA enforcement.

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Resources Guide, Second Edition – The New Hallmark part 5, part 4, part 3, part 2, part 1 | 10 July 2020 |

Last week, in yet another very soft release, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released the updated A RESOURCE GUIDE TO THE U.S. FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT SECOND EDITION (2020 Resource Guide). Obviously this 2020 Resource Guide has been sometime in coming and represents the work of many dedicated professionals in the DOJ and SEC. It is a welcomed resource for every compliance practitioner. I want to focus on the primary changes and additions to the Hallmarks of an Effective Compliance Program. The biggest change is the addition of a new Hallmark, entitled “Investigation, Analysis, and Remediation of Misconduct”.

A Resource Guide to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Second Edition, by the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Enforcement Division of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (pdf) | July 2020 | U.S. Department of Justice

EP4 – What’s New and What’s Next for the Enhanced Equator Principles? | 9 July 2020 | Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP | The National Law Review

The Equator Principles (EPs) are a framework for assessing and managing environmental and social risks associated with project financing. The EPs provide a minimum due diligence standard and monitoring protocol supporting responsible risk assessment and decision-making. The EPs apply globally, to all industry sectors, and are focused on risk management for projects financed by the financial institutions that have adopted the EPs. Currently, the EPs have been adopted by 105 financial institutions across 38 countries. The EPs oblige financial institutions to make informed investment decisions and withhold or withdraw financing on projects or assets not conforming to “good international industry practice.”

Afriland, Gertler, les liaisons dangereuses du système bancaire | 9 July 2020 | Radio France Internationale

Les dernières révélations de Global Witness et de la Plateforme de protection des lanceurs d’alerte en Afrique mettent en cause l’une des principales banques du Cameroun, Afriland First Bank, et sa filiale en République démocratique du Congo. Ces banques sont soupçonnées par les deux ONG d’avoir permis à Dan Gertler, milliardaire israélien et proche de l’ancien président, de contourner des sanctions américaines. Enquête sur un scandale qui pourrait avoir de sérieuses répercussions sur le système bancaire congolais.

LBMA Should Suspend Gold Refiner MMTC-PAMP | 9 July 2020 | RAID

The London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) should suspend gold refiner MMTC-PAMP for its failure to act over human rights abuses at the North Mara gold mine in Tanzania, UK corporate watchdog RAID said today. MMTC-PAMP, part of the Swiss-based MKS PAMP Group, said in a statement released on 3 July that it would continue to source gold from Barrick’s problematic mine following an “independent assessment” of its supply chain.

UK Export Finance plays down corruption warnings over Africa transactions | 8 July 2020 | Global Trade Review

Weak Link or First Line of Defence? (report) | July 2020 | Spotlight on Corruption

UK Export Finance (UKEF) says it carries out rigorous and ongoing due diligence on all transactions it supports, after anti-corruption investigators warned of “multiple red flags” in its activities in Sub-Saharan Africa. The UK’s export credit agency (ECA), which provides government-backed insurance for export transactions as well as direct lending facilities, was handed a major funding boost this year as Britain looks to boost trade with non-EU markets.

Sanctions: Despite Post-Brexit Limbo, UK Finally Introduces Magnitsky Law | 8 July 2020 | Greenberg Traurig LLP | The National Law Review

With the UK now no longer part of the EU, and EU law ceasing to apply at the end of the current transitional period, the future application of many of the bloc’s laws and regulations in the UK (and if/how the UK will transpose them) is the subject of increased speculation, not least in the already complex area of sanctions law. Some of that speculation was put to bed when on 6 July 2020 Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab placed before Parliament the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020 (the Regulations) which provide for the freezing of funds and economic resources of certain persons, entities or bodies responsible for or involved in serious violations of human rights.

European human rights litigation and global corporate responsibility | 7 July 2020 | Corrs Chambers Westgarth | Mondaq

A shift in favour of human rights protection is motivating policy and legal changes around the world, seen in Australia’s Modern Slavery Act 2018. In Europe, we are seeing an increase in human rights-based litigation as mandatory due diligence in the supply chain is expanding beyond modern slavery laws, and Australia may not be far behind.

Dubai’s Role in Facilitating Corruption and Global Illicit Financial Flows (report) | 7 July 2020 | Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Dubai’s dubious gold standards | 10 July 2020 | Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime

Dubai is just one of many enablers of global corruption, crime, and illicit financial flows, but addressing the emirate’s role presents anticorruption practitioners, law enforcement agencies, and policymakers with particularly complex challenges.

Billionaire Gertler Hits Back At NGOs Over Congo Investigation Into Evading U.S. Sanctions | 7 July 2020 | Radio France Internationale | AllAfrica

Two non-governmental organisations that ran an investigation into Israeli businessman Dan Gertler say they have been targeted by a “vexatious” lawsuit in France. The joint investigation claimed mining magnate Gertler appeared to avoid US sanctions for “corrupt mining and oil deals” in the Democratic Republic of Congo by using a suspected money laundering network.

Global Human Rights Sanctions regime: Foreign Secretary’s statement to Parliament | 6 July 2020 | UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Dominic Raab gave a Commons statement introducing the new Global Human Rights Sanctions regime and the first sanctions on those involved in human rights abuses.

Glencore, Gertler, Gecamines : $150 Million at Risk | 1 July 2020 | RAID

The “Congo is Not for Sale” campaign calls on the justice system of the Democratic Republic of Congo to disclose the results of an investigation opened at the end of 2019 into state copper company, Gécamines, and to announce the legal measures it intends to take to prevent a payment from Glencore to Gécamines entering into the pockets of billionaire Dan Gertler, who is subject to sanctions imposed by the United States.

Congo officials vow to tackle child labour at mines as virus threatens spike | 23 June 2020 | Reuters

Authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo’s southeastern mining heartland are boosting efforts to tackle child labour amid concerns that the coronavirus pandemic could drive more families to put their children to work in mines, officials said.


Environmental and human rights groups unite for declaration urging cocoa sustainability action | 22 July 2020 |

A total of 350 environmental, human rights and NGO groups have combined as signatories for a landmark letter urging the governments of Ivory Coast and Ghana to take key steps ensuring environmental sustainability and support for farmers within the cocoa supply chain. Neill Barston reports.

French shipping company slaps ban on Gambia timber over illegal rosewood exports | 21 July 2020 | RFI

French shipping and logistics company CMA CGM Group has suspended all timber exports from the Gambia over suspicions that undeclared shipments of rosewood may have been part of cargo shipments.

Run for Nature: The Fight to Save Africa’s Forests | 21 July 2020 |

As the world concentrates on dealing with COVID-19 pandemic, multinational companies continue to evict communities from their land, tearing down their lives and their sovereignty to plant monocrops like oil palm and sugar cane in Africa, or GMO soy in South America.

Sourcing cobalt remains a challenge for electric vehicle manufacturers | 20 July 2020 | The Northern Miner

German luxury vehicle maker BMW signed a US$2.3 billion long-term deal earlier this month with Swedish battery maker Northvolt, the latest of such deals, as European carmakers try to compete with Tesla in the burgeoning electric vehicle (EV) market.

Wildlife crime putting environment and health at risk: UN report | 10 July 2020 | UN News

The World Wildlife Crime Report 2020 outlines how trafficking in some wild species, which are then butchered and sold illegally, can increase the transmission of diseases that spread from animals to humans. “Transnational organized crime networks are reaping the profits of wildlife crime, but it is the poor who are paying the price,” said Ghada Waly, Executive Director at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) which produced the report.

A new report looks at the illegal trade of plants and animals | 10 July 2020 | UN Environment Programme

From rhino horns, to pangolin scales to rosewood, the world has seen increases and decreases in the illicit trade of plants and animals during the recent five-year period, according to a new report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. We sat down with Arnold Kreilhuber, Acting Director of the United Nations Environment Programme’s UNEP Law Division, and Susan Gardner, Director of the Ecosystems Division, to discuss the findings of the study and what can be done to stem the illegal animal trade.

Under Cover of Coronavirus Lockdown, a Booming Trade in Conflict Gold | 9 July 2020 | The Wall Street Journal

At the deserted Entebbe airport on a recent night, Ugandan police searched two cardboard boxes in a white pickup truck that were due to be loaded onto a cargo flight. The plane was bound for Dubai after having ferried essential Covid-19 aid into Uganda.

Special ACFCS/GFI Webinar Series: Inside the Illicit Gold Trade – Using Financial Tools and Public Policy to Fight Money Laundering | 6 July 2020 | Association of Certified Financial Crime Specialists

When it comes to financial crime and compliance, all that glitters may not be gold – because if you look closer at the gleaming precious metal, you may see the fingerprints from a wide array of illicit entities, political powerbrokers and sanctions evaders.

Congo and the chocolate factory: New producer hits the sweet spot | 1 July 2020 | Reuters

Aisha Kalinda melts the chunks of cocoa in a pan and spoons the brown gloop into a mould which will become the latest bar produced at the Lowa chocolate factory, the first locally owned producer in Democratic Republic of Congo.

United Party for National Development questions ZCCM on gold and foreigners | 26 June 2020 | Zambian Watchdog

The UPND has taken keen interest in the recent Joint Ventures announced by ZCCM pertaining to gold processing in Zambia, being a Public Interest Entity majority owned by the people of Zambia. The UPND has taken the liberty to collate the concerns of the general public, as well as conduct some basic due diligence on the key partners ZCCM has engaged as part of its drive to formalise the gold mining industry in Zambia. Effective due diligence when entering into Joint Ventures is critical.

Money Laundering and the Illegal Wildlife Trade | 25 June 2020 | Financial Action Task Force

The illegal wildlife trade is a major transnational organised crime, which generates billions of criminal proceeds each year. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has conducted a new study to provide guidance to countries on measures they can take to combat money laundering from the illegal wildlife trade.


Burkina Faso and the Case for the Leahy Laws | 23 July 2020 | Inkstick

Allegations of extrajudicial killings by state security forces in Burkina Faso recently uncovered by Human Rights Watch, while disturbing, are not surprising. Equally unsurprising is the US refusal to cut security assistance to penalize those responsible for these reprehensible acts. The US may have a limited ability to directly influence foreign countries’ security forces, but that doesn’t mean the US is powerless in situations like these.

RCA : des mercenaires russes, soupçonnés d’avoir posé des mines antipersonnel | 21 July 2020 | Agence d’information d’Afrique centrale

La Minusca (Mission des nations unies en Centrafrique) accuse le mouvement 3R d’Abass Sidiki d’utiliser les mines antipersonnel et antichars pour la première fois dans des attaques contre les Faca et les troupes de la Minusca, ayant occasionné la mort d’un casque bleu rwandais et blessé deux autres.

Firearms trafficking, ‘enabler and multiplier of violence’ worldwide | 15 July 2020 | UN News

The Global Study on Firearms Trafficking 2020 focuses on the serious and “too often hidden” problem of firearms trafficking that serves as “an enabler and multiplier of violence and crime in every part of the world”, said Ghada Waly, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Final report of the Panel of Experts on the Central African Republic extended pursuant to Security Council resolution 2507(2020) (S/2020/662) | 8 July 2020 | UN Security Council | Reliefweb

The members of the Panel of Experts on the Central African Republic extended pursuant to resolution 2507 (2020) have the honour to transmit herewith, in accordance with paragraph 7 of resolution 2507 (2020), the final report on their work.The attached report was provided to the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2127 (2013) concerning the Central African Republic on 15 June 2020 and was considered by the Committee on 2 July 2020.


Transitional Justice in Uganda: The Dilemma of Children Born of War | 24 July 2020 | International Law Blog

As Northern Uganda continues to recover from a brutal and mass conflict, there are perplexing experiences that hinder its post conflict recovery. A fascinating aspect relates to the way in which vulnerable victims are reintegrated within the communities. Unfortunately, victims of sexual violence in Northern Uganda have hardly received the deserved attention and medical assistance needed for them to regain their dignity.

Uganda – where security forces may be more deadly than coronavirus | 23 July 2020 | BBC

In Uganda, at least 12 people have allegedly been killed by security officers enforcing measures to restrict the spread of coronavirus, while the country has only just confirmed its first death from Covid-19. Patience Atuhaire has been meeting some of those affected by the violence.

Nouveaux affrontements entre l’armée et les combattants de M23 signalés à Rutshuru | 22 July 2020 |

Les combats ont éclaté ce mercredi 22 juillet entre les Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC) ainsi que des présumés rebelles de l’ancienne rébellion du Mouvement du 23 mars, (M23) à Chanzu, dans le groupement de Jomba (territoire de Rutshuru) au Nord-Kivu.

Cameroun-Crime de guerre en zone anglophone: Voici enfin la première réaction du procureur de la CPI | 21 July 2020 | Cameroonmagazine

Jeudi, la Cour pénale internationale, CPI, a répondu officiellement à une affaire déposée contre le président camerounais, Paul Biya, âgé de 87 ans, le 21 mai de l’année dernière. Sur la base des atrocités commises par les forces de l’État dans les régions du Nord-Ouest et du Sud-Ouest du Cameroun alors qu’elles combattent des séparatistes armés, un Camerounais inquiet a saisi la CPI pour demander réparation.

Congolese Cardinal: Don’t Blame Colonialists for Nation’s Failures | 20 July 2020 | Church Militant

A bishop of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is advising his countrymen that colonialists should not be blamed for the nation’s failures. On the 60th anniversary of the Congo’s independence from Belgium on June 30, Cdl. Ambongo reflected on scriptural readings in which Moses called upon the Israelites to remember the day of their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. He said that Congolese should remember the date of independence as the “culmination of sacrifices and bloodshed by valiant sons and daughters of the Congo.”

RDC: terrain de jeu des armées étrangères | 16 July 2020 | Sputnik

Depuis le début de l’année 2020, la présence d’au moins sept armées venant des États voisins a été signalée sur le territoire congolais, ravivant la thèse de la balkanisation de la nation. Quels sont les motivations et les objectifs poursuivis par les pays envahisseurs? Décryptage pour Sputnik du chercheur et journaliste Patrick Mbeko.

Nord-Kivu : le CEPADHO dénonce la complicité des Maï-Maï aux côtés des ADF dans la tuerie des civils à Beni | 15 July 2020 | Radio Okapi

Le Centre d’Etudes pour la Promotion de la Paix, la Démocratie et les Droits de l’homme (CEPADHO) dénonce la complicité de certains combattants Maï-Maï qui accompagnent les ADF dans la tuerie des civils à Beni (Nord-Kivu).

In CAR, violence against women is surging amid COVID-19 pandemic, study finds | 14 July 2020 | UNDP

The Central African Republic (CAR) is seeing a surge in gender-based violence (GBV) since the COVID-19 virus pandemic and measures to control it began, with reported injuries to women and children spiking by 69 percent, a new UNDP-led study finds.

‘Guardians of the bush’: brutal vigilantes police Burkina Faso | 13 July 2020 | The Guardian

A rifle hangs in the corner, refuse bags of seized cannabis strewn in the dirt at the men’s feet. Heavy chains have been fixed to the trees in the surrounding field. As we arrive, a group of teenage boys are being shackled to them by their ankles. This is the headquarters of a local branch of the Koglweogo, a network of crime-fighting volunteers that are proliferating across Burkina Faso, west Africa.

A thief for all seasons: Not even Covid-19 will stop the corrupt | 13 July 2020 | The East African

Albert M’peti Biyombo, Democratic Republic of Congo’s Deputy Health Minister, is a very brave man. In a leaked letter to the prime minister, he accused Cabinet members of receiving kickbacks on contracts for the coronavirus response, while health workers went unpaid for months. He said Covid-19 funds are being embezzled by a “mafia network”, which are taking kickbacks of up to 35 percent off contracts for virus supplies. Biyombo might also have a death wish.

RDC: le groupe armé NDC-R annonce la destitution de son commandant Guidon Shimiray | 11 July 2020 | RFI

Guidon Shimiray, le commandant du Nduma Defense of Congo-Rénové (NDC-R), a été destitué jeudi 9 juillet, selon un communiqué signé par le porte-parole de ce groupe armé qui est parmi les plus importants du pays.

Slavery, Gender-Based Violence, Discrimination and Repression in Mauritania | 9 July 2020 | Unrepresented Nations & Peoples Organization

The UNPO and its Member, the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA) in Mauritania, have jointly filed a report to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for consideration of the 37th Session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. This report examines the current state of human rights in Mauritania focused specifically on the realization of the human rights of the Haratin people and progress made since the last UPR of Mauritania. Specifically, the report sheds light on the issue of slavery, gender-based violence, discrimination and repression. The report urges concrete measures be urgently taken to resolve what amounts to a continued human rights crisis in Mauritania.

U.S. warns aid at risk unless alleged abuses in West Africa’s Sahel region addressed | 9 July 2020 | Reuters

The United States said on Thursday it was “deeply concerned” about increasing alleged human rights abuses by state security forces in the West African Sahel region and that they must be addressed or else assistance from Washington could be at risk.

A conflict without borders continues to play out in the Sahel | 8 July 2020 | ICRC

When the outbreak of COVID-19 led to a global ceasefire, the fighting in the Sahel region continued unabated. In the Liptako Gourma region, which straddles Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, the security situation and humanitarian crisis have deteriorated significantly in recent months. The front lines are constantly changing, which means people are always on the move in search of safety.

Integrating Human Rights into Peace Operations Brings Missions Closer to People, Advances Inclusive Development, High Commissioner Tells Security Council | 8 July 2020 | United Nations Security Council | ReliefWeb

Addressing rights violations as warning signs of conflict is even more urgent in the COVID-19 era, the United Nations senior human rights official told the Security Council in a 7 July videoconference meeting, as she spotlighted the role peacekeepers can play in monitoring virus-related stigma, hate speech and the impact of containment measures on vulnerable groups.

RDC-Beni : le BCNUDH a documenté 109 victimes de violations des droits de l’homme commises par des FARDC depuis le début des opérations dites de “grande envergure” en octobre 2019 | 8 July 2020 |

Depuis le début des opérations militaires des FARDC en octobre 2019, le Bureau conjoint des Nations Unies aux droits de l’homme (BCNUDH) a documenté 109 victimes de violations des droits de l’homme commises par des FARDC, dont au moins sept femmes et sept enfants. Il a également documenté 137 victimes (dont 13 femmes et 15 enfants) de violations des droits de l’homme commises par la PNC, y compris les éléments de la LNI (Légions nationales d’intervention), déployés dans le territoire de Beni en soutien aux opérations militaires.

A Brutal Legacy of Burundi’s Late President | 7 July 2020 | HRW

In the run up to recent elections in Burundi, members of the Imbonerakure were instrumental in the killings, arbitrary arrests, disappearances, intimidation, and harassment of political opponents. The youth league of the ruling party, the National Council for the Defence of Democracy – Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), terrorized the population, as it has done for many years.

Attacks by ADF armed group may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes | 7 July 2020 | MONUSCO

Report on violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the Allied Democratic Forces armed group and by members of the defense and security forces in Beni territory, North Kivu province and Irumu and Mambasa territories, Ituri province (pdf)| July 2020 | UN Joint Human Rights Office

The armed group known as Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) has intensified its attacks against civilians in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) over the last 18 months, expanding its actions beyond areas in which it previously operated. These attacks, which have left close to 800 people dead and dozens of others injured, may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes, according to a UN investigation.

En RDC, les ex-rebelles menacent de reprendre les armes | 7 July 2020 | DW

Dans la province du Nord-Kivu, dans l’est de la République démocratique du Congo (RDC), des ex-combattants menacent de reprendre les armes. Il s’agit de deux chefs rebelles qui se sont auto-proclamés général durant leur maquis. Kakule Masivi Jeteme et Bilikoliko Mingenya Gassero ainsi que leur groupe respectif, opéraient dans plusieurs villages des territoires de Masisi et Rutshuru au Nord-Kivu.

Uganda: Cattle Raids – At Least 200 Killed in Karamoja in 6 Months | 6 July 2020 | The Monitor | AllAfrica

Tension has been high in Karamoja Sub-region after Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) intensified its operations to recover illegal guns that are being used by cattle rustlers. On Thursday last week, a combined force of about 500 armed rustlers from the districts of Moroto, Kotido and Napak raided their counterparts in Kaabong District and stole about 800 head of cattle. The UPDF used a military aircraft and intercepted the rustlers at the Turkana border point.

Peuls et jihadisme au Sahel : le grand malentendu | 6 July 2020 | Jeune Afrique

Au Mali, au Niger et au Burkina, nombre de jeunes Peuls ont rejoint les groupes jihadistes. Mais la majorité, soupçonnée à tort et prise pour cible, est à bout.

Russia in West Africa: Trying to replace the West? | 30 June 2020 | Grey Dynamics | SOFREP

This report examines the likelihood of a Russian power projection in West Africa, based on the country’s ambitions, military doctrine and previous and current actions in other parts of the continent.

Achieving Justice for Child Survivors of Conflict-related Sexual Violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: The Kavumu Case | May 2020 | Journal of International Criminal Justice

In March 2015, the first major conference, or États Généraux, of the Congolese justice system was held in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. The conference, the mandate of which was to evaluate the functioning of the judicial system and formulate recommendations about reforms and actions to be implemented, pledged to strengthen national investigations and prosecutions of international crimes as a matter of priority. This development was significant in a country where widespread impunity for perpetrators of mass crimes, in particular conflict-related sexual violence, is rampant and exacerbates the trauma suffered by survivors. Among the cases deemed a ‘priority’, the Kavumu case was especially important. In that case, the Military Court of South Kivu found that the accused were part of an armed group, controlled by provincial lawmaker Frédéric Batumike, and together they were responsible for the rape of over 40 young girls over a three-year period.

Assessment of Efforts to Hold Perpetrators of Conflict-related Sexual Violence Accountable in Central African Republic | May 2020 | Journal of International Criminal Justice

Sexual violence is commonly described as an epidemic in the Central African Republic (CAR) and other conflict settings. In response, the government and the international community have launched major efforts to combat sexual violence, including the investigation and prosecution of sexual crimes and offences by the ordinary justice system, the Special Criminal Court in the Central African Republic, and the International Criminal Court. Yet, little is known about how these efforts are perceived among the population and about their effectiveness at reducing exposure in a context of ongoing violence. This article builds on a unique series of four surveys conducted at six-month intervals between 2017 and 2018 with a total of 25,143 randomly selected adults. It assesses the magnitude of sexual violence and shows that respondents positively perceive efforts to combat sexual violence and increasingly understand and trust the justice system.