14 March 2003

Expert Panel on Illegal Exploitation of Resources in Democratic Republic of Congo to Begin Work in Nairobi on 24 March

NEW YORK, 13 March (Department of Peacekeeping Operations) -- The Expert Panel on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has convened at United Nations Headquarters in New York, in preparation for formally beginning its work in Nairobi, Kenya on 24 March under its new six-month mandate.

As stipulated in Security Council Resolution 1457 (2003), which outlines the Panel's mandate, individuals, companies and governments have until 31 March to transmit to the Expert Panel their reactions to the Panel's last report (document S/2002/1146). To enable those named to effectively comment on the Panel's findings, the Panel will begin arranging meetings with these parties in Nairobi during the week of 24 March to discuss the procedures for an exchange of information, which will take place approximately within two to three weeks of such meetings. Those named will then have until late May to present their reactions. These reactions will be published as an attachment to the Panel's last report by 20 June.

The new mandate has conferred other tasks on the Panel. These include: a review and analysis of information gathered; verifying and updating its findings; an assessment of the impact of actions taken by governments in response to the Panel's previous recommendations; and formulating recommendations on measures to be taken by a transitional Government in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other governments in the region to ensure the legal and fair exploitation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's resources. The new mandate also emphasizes the Panel's cooperation with Member States in general, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in the application of its Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the Office of the Attorney General of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and all other investigative bodies. The Expert Panel will present a briefing to the Security Council after three months of fieldwork and submit a report at the end of its mission to Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The Panel, chaired by Ambassador Mahmoud Kassem (Egypt), is composed of the following independent Experts: Alf Görsjö (Sweden); Mel Holt (United States); Bruno Schiemsky (Belgium); and Ismaila Seck (Senegal). An additional Panel Member will be named in the coming weeks. The Expert Panel is assisted by a Technical Advisor, Andrew Danino (United Kingdom), and three Political Officers, Pall Davidsson (Iceland), Alex Rose (France) and Hannah Taylor (United States).

The Expert Panel can be contacted at: the Africa Division, Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Room S-2145G, United Nations Secretariat, New York, NY 10017 USA, tel.: (212) 367-5006 or 367-5198; or EXPNATDRC/United Nations Office in Nairobi, P.O. Box 30302, 00100, Nairobi, Kenya, tel.: (254-2) 622-490, fax: (254-2) 622-689.

All inquiries regarding this statement should be directed to the expert panel's offices in Nairobi after 24 March.

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