The intrinsic antagonism of the lunatic fringe: A war without army?

Birim River Destroyed By Galamsey Birim river destroyed by galamsey

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 Source: Badu, K

By: Badu, K

It is worth emphasising that in our current state of global competitiveness, amid active antagonism and truculent social restiveness, there appears an increasing interest in the demilitarization.

However, I would like to think that despite the ostensible interests from other countries to disarm, demilitarization is probably not on Ghana government’s agenda, or not anytime soon, I suppose.

By inference, Ghana has no immediate intention to join the league of nations that have chosen to do away with army. Thus, until such time, we are obliged to ward off any internal or external aggression militarily.

Interestingly, the twenty four countries that do not have army are: Andorra, Costa Rica, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Iceland, Kiribati, Lichtenstein, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia, Monaco, Montserrat, Nauru, Palau, Panama, Saint Kitts and Navis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Vatican City (Source: www.aworldwithoutarmies.org/ ).

So, since there is no immediate intention to abandon our military capabilities, we are, more than ever, urgently require our military power to combat the apparent danger of foreign infiltrators who are bent on despoiling and denuding the environment through illegal mining.

In theory, the foreign infiltrators invasion of our country side with a view to forcibly digging our mineral resources, polluting our sources of drinking water and destroying the environment is tantamount to war. For, if anything at all, the mineral resources belong to the government of Ghana.

For example, the Minerals Act 2006 stresses: “every mineral in its natural state in, under or upon land in Ghana, rivers, streams, water-courses throughout the country, the exclusive economic zone and an area covered by the territorial sea or continental shelf is the property of the Republic and is vested in the President in trust for the people of Ghana.”

And, what is more, Article 1 (2) of the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is emphatic on self-determination and the ownership of natural resources.

It emphasises: “All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence” (UN 1966).

More importantly, under no circumstances whatsoever, should any country, or for that matter, a citizen of such country, choose to trample upon the inviolability of one’s sovereignty.

Take, for example, Article 9 of the 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights affirms that “least developed countries committed to the process of democratization and economic reforms, many of which are in Africa, should be supported by the international community in order to succeed in their transition to democracy and economic development.”

Bizarrely, in spite of the fact that by law, only Ghanaians are allowed to obtain mining licenses for small-scale mining operations, “thousands” of Chinese and other foreigners are working in the small scale mining sector in Ghana.

“The involvement of the Chinese has changed the dynamics of small-scale mining,” the head of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, said in an interview.

“They use bulldozers, pay loaders and really heavy machinery. They have in fact mechanized artisanal mining and as a result the level of environmental devastation is huge.”

I will venture to stress that if we failed to act sooner than later, we risk a possible conflict between the concerned indigenes and the foreign illegal miners.

It is worth stressing that while some indigenous people may depend on the small-scale mining for their livelihoods, there may be other instances in which the activities of the non-indigenous small scale miners (foreign illegal miners) may threaten the livelihoods of the indigenous people, which could result in a prolong antagonism.

Take, for instance, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) insists that in the last 60 years, at least 40 per cent of all intrastate conflicts have a link to natural resources, and that this link doubles the risk of a conflict relapse in the first five years (UNEP, 2017).

According to the United Nations, since 1990, at least 18 violent conflicts have been instigated by the exploitation of natural resources, whether ‘high-value’ resources like timber, diamonds, gold, minerals and oil, or scarce ones like fertile land and water’ (UN, 2017).

The United Nations thus far has mandated a few peacekeeping missions with a view to helping the host country to better managed its natural resources. One such example is the 2003 UN Resolution 1509, which sought to help the war thorn Liberia to protect its natural resources from illegal miners (UNEP, 2017).

The other UN mandated peacekeeping mission is the 2010 Resolution 1925, which aimed to protect life and property in the Democratic Republic of Congo (UEP, 2017).

In addition to stealing our natural resources, the illegal miners are gleefully polluting our sources of drinking water with noxious mercury. How bizarre?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), exposure to mercury – even small amounts – may cause serious health problems, and is a threat to the development of the child in utero and early in life.

And what is more, WHO insists that mercury may have toxic effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, and on lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes.

Worryingly, however, mercury is considered by WHO as one of the top ten chemicals or groups of chemicals of major public health concern.

WHO explains that people are mainly exposed to methylmercury, an organic compound, when they eat fish and shellfish that contain the compound.

Moreover, WHO suggests that the primary health effect of methylmercury is impaired neurological development. Therefore, cognitive thinking, memory, attention, language, and fine motor and visual spatial skills may be affected in children who were exposed to methylmercury as foetuses (The condition is also known as the Minamata disease).

“Minamata disease, also known as Chisso-Minamata disease, is a neurological syndrome caused by severe mercury poisoning.

“Symptoms include ataxia, numbness in the hands and feet, general muscle weakness, narrowing of the field of vision and damage to hearing and speech. In extreme cases, insanity, paralysis, coma and death follow within weeks of the onset of symptoms. A congenital form of the disease can also affect foetuses” (See: www.bu.edu/sustainability/minamata-disease).

It is against such extreme dangers that I am beseeching the authorities to assemble a purposeful task force as a matter of urgency, with a view to circumscribing or halting the illegal miners shenanigans in our countryside.

K. Badu, UK.




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Columnist: Badu, K