Mr. Albert Yelyang, National Network Coordinator, West African Network for Peace Building (WANEP) – Ghana, says dialogue remains the best conflict resolution tool in the extractive industry.
He said non-violent exchange of views creates mutual peace and security for co-existence, while violence only deepens frustrations of the parties concerned.
Mr. Yelyang said this during a two-day ‘Local Dialogue Training’ on Voluntary Principles (VPS) on Human Rights, Peace and Security for Mining Communities in the Volta Region, at Denu.
It was jointly organized by WANEP, a leading regional peace building organization and the Fund For Peace (FFP), a US-based non-profit entity for conflict prevention and sustainable security.
The event was held on the theme, “Enhancing local capacities for conflict resolution in the extractive sector to improve natural resource governance, community peace and security through dialogue.”
Mr. Yelyang said it is important for stakeholders, mainly mining companies and host communities, to respect the rights of each other and observe early warning signs.
He urged them to be interested in conflict management, peace building and “always communicate for change.”
Mr. John J. Messner, Executive Director, FFP, said though activities of players in the extractive industry are beneficial to host communities, their work posed human rights abuse challenges that would need to be addressed peacefully.
He said a number of countries’ companies and civil society groups worldwide have signed onto the VPS established seventeen (17) years ago for community protection, peace and security through the international stakeholder approach, and called for its implementation.
Ms. Hannah Blyth, FFP Program Manager, said lack of clear-cut processes for communities to seek redress for their concerns usually leads to conflicts.
She asked companies to adopt Grievance Mechanisms (GMs), an international standard or compliance rules to handle aggrieved communities.
Ms. Blyth said the adoption of GMs would also give communities the opportunity to follow a clear cut process in grievance settlements.
She called for Revenue Transparency-making issues of compensations or royalties to be paid to the communities to build trust of all.
Participants at the event included traditional rulers, the police, the media, local salt miners, the Kesington Salt Company at Adina, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and environmental health workers.
The conflict between local communities and the Kesington Salt Company which occurred earlier this year and resulted in the death of a young man was the test case for the training and dialogue session.