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Kassem, Mahmoud & others (2002) Letter from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the UN Security Council. United Nations : 1-59.

The Security Council, in a statement by its President dated 19 December 2001(S/PRST/2001/39), requested the Secretary-General to renew for six months the mandate of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and asked the Panel to submit both an interim and a final report. The new mandate stipulated that the reports should include the following:

(a) An update of relevant data and an analysis of further information from all relevant countries, including in particular from those which thus far had not provided the Panel with the requested information;

(b) An evaluation of the possible actions that could be taken by the Council, including those recommended by the Panel in its report (S/2001/357) and the addendum thereto (S/2001/1072), in order to help bring to an end the plundering of the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, taking into account the impact of such actions on the financing of the conflict and their potential impact on the humanitarian and economic situation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo;

(c) Recommendations on specific actions that
the international community, in support of the
Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, might take, working through existing international organizations, mechanisms and United Nations bodies, to address the issues in the report and its addendum;

(d) Recommendations on possible steps that might be taken by transit countries as well as end-users to contribute to ending illegal exploitation of the natural resources and other forms of wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

2. The Security Council also stressed the importance of the Panelís maintaining a high level of collaboration with all the Congolese players, governmental as well as non-governmental, throughout the national territory.

3. The Panel submitted to the Security Council an interim report (S/2002/565) on 22 May 2002. At the request of the Council, the Panel responded in writing to questions and comments from Council members regarding the interim report and the Panelís ongoing work. Prior to presenting its interim report, and at the request of the head of the Security Council mission to the Great Lakes region, the Panel travelled to Pretoria on 28 April to brief the missionís members.

4. To orient its work under the current mandate, the Panel developed two successive plans of action, which were transmitted to the Council. Under these plans, fact-finding focused on diamonds, gold, coltan, copper, cobalt, timber, wildlife reserves, fiscal resources and trade in general.

5. The Panel determined that a central focus of its work should be gathering information about politically and economically powerful groups involved in the exploitation activities, which are often highly criminalized. As a result, the Panel developed the central concept of the elite network (outlined in section II) as an operational thesis.

6. In organizing its investigations, the Panel divided the Democratic Republic of the Congo into three areas, namely, the Government-controlled area, the Rwanda controlled area and the Uganda-controlled area. These descriptors are based on the identity of the actors that constitute the three principal networks involved in the exploitation. The Panel also concluded that each of these three areas, while conforming to the Panelís understanding of the elite networks, featured substantive variations.

7. The Panel obtained information from a wide variety of sources, including from Governments (civilian and military representatives), intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, businesses and private individuals. Owing to the nature of its mandate, gaining access to information has been difficult. Nevertheless, the Panel collected well-substantiated and independently corroborated information from multiple sources. These knowledgeable sources provided documents and/or eye-witness observations. It is this type of information ó consisting mostly of documentary evidence ó that the Panel has relied on its report.

8. The Panel has operated under a reasonable standard of proof, without recourse to judicial authority to subpoena testimony or documents. It obtains information from sources on a strictly voluntary basis. Furthermore, the Panel has made every effort to fairly and objectively evaluate the information it has gathered.

9. Throughout its work, the Panel has paid close attention to the evolution of the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as that in neighbouring Burundi. The Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement of 1999 and the Arusha Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation, of 2000, served as important points of reference for its work. The Sun City, Pretoria and Luanda Agreements have also informed the Panelís work.

10. The Panel was composed as follows: Ambassador Mahmoud Kassem (Egypt), Chairman Jim Freedman (Canada) Mel Holt (United States of America) Bruno Schiemsky (Belgium) Moustapha Tall (Senegal).

11. Two part-time technical advisers, Gilbert Barthe (Switzerland) and Patrick Smith (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), also served with the Panel. In addition, two political officers, an administrator and a secretary assisted the Panel.

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