Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act has been a primary driver of corporate and regional policy change on conflict minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo), helping create an economic incentive for ending exploitative mining practices and reforming the region’s minerals sector. However, Dodd-Frank 1502 is only one component in a broad set of peacebuilding tools, and it must be accompanied by other initiatives to advance development of a responsible minerals trade that improves the livelihoods and security of people living in eastern Congo. These changes toward peace must include government and corporate responses, programs directly supporting the livelihoods of community members in eastern Congo, and full implementation of the regional peace agreement known as the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework in a way that is truly inclusive of those most affected by it.
This resource page is designed to provide an update on the efforts to end the conflict minerals trade that finances numerous brutal armed groups in eastern Congo, note remaining challenges, and suggest strategies for encouraging lasting peace.
For more information, please see the additional resources below - and check out the letter published by Congolese civil society members here and joint open letter here.
For nearly two decades, the war and widespread illicit exploitation of natural resources in eastern Congo has subjected Congolese citizens to a humanitarian crisis that desperately needs to be addressed. Broad reform of the minerals sector is part of a comprehensive strategy to end violence in eastern Congo, and Dodd-Frank 1502 is one catalytic component of that effort.
As part of the wider Wall Street reform effort, Dodd-Frank 1502 ordered the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to develop a rule that requires companies to find out where their minerals come from. The rule, adopted in 2012, aims to interrupt long-standing practices of supply chain opacity, replacing them with mandatory corporate transparency, due diligence, and public awareness about four minerals that are known to fuel unspeakable violence in Congo and the surrounding region. The law has provided an economic incentive for change, which has led to increased security for many mining communities once directly controlled or terrorized by armed groups.
However, governments, donors, and companies have yet to deliver or finalize many of the other critical reforms necessary to end the conflict minerals trade.
Three main areas of reform are needed:
Livelihood programs for mining communities
Increased transparency and due diligence
Governance and mining reforms in Congo and the region
Without attention to these three categories, Dodd-Frank 1502 and any other complementary initiatives to end the conflict minerals trade in eastern Congo will be incomplete.
Livelihood Projects for Mining Communities
Dodd-Frank 1502 is making it less profitable for armed groups to illegally trade minerals in Congo and the region, helping begin the shift of the economic environment in eastern Congo and the region away from benefiting armed groups and towards creating incentives for a peaceful trade. Although miners who worked in conflict mines were subject to immense harassment, debt slavery, and attacks by armed groups and military officers, the shifts away from conflict mining also mean that many miners have had to move to other areas to try to earn a livelihood, while the responsible minerals trade slowly develops. From the beginning, human rights and mineral reform advocates have called for livelihood programs for these miners to complement Dodd-Frank 1502, but the programs have been too slow in coming to the ground in Congo. They must be boosted now. This includes:
Increasing capacity-building and micro-finance programs for artisanal mining cooperatives in eastern Congo
Finalizing reforms to the minerals sector
Respecting the rights of artisanal miners and ensuring they are given access to a legal, profitable market for their minerals
Significantly enhancing programs to develop alternative sources of income, such as high-value agriculture
Increased Transparency and Due Diligence in Tin, Tantalum, Tungsten, and Gold Supply Chains
The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) has spearheaded a new regional minerals certification process. Certification is a means to the goals of transparency, compliance, and rule of law. The process has been slow and must advance with more expediency for Congo to see outside investment and experience benefits on the ground.
Retail companies are increasingly engaged in developing positive supply chain management tools, joining multi-stakeholder groups to advance the tools and policies for conflict-free minerals sourcing, and taking an increasing interest in supporting peace in the Great Lakes region. This evolution is largely due to Dodd-Frank 1502’s disclosure requirements and has positive implications for numerous industries and minerals-rich regions around the world.
Governance and Mining Reforms in Congo and the Region
Governance reform in the region’s mining sector must be strengthened, and we must not lose momentum for meaningful, lasting change. Great Lakes governments, particularly Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, must be at the forefront of these efforts, but the U.S. and other governments, international financial institutions, private investors, mining companies, consumers, and other international actors all have roles to play. They should work closely with Congolese mining communities and regional stakeholders to improve mine inspections in Congo and the ICGLR minerals certification process, increase meaningful support to Congolese miners, and invest in conflict-free mines, particularly for gold.
In large part due to Dodd-Frank 1502 and related reform efforts, there is progress toward the development of a conflict-free minerals sector in Congo. There are laws in place to prevent multinational companies from having opaque supply chains, and an increasing number of mines are being validated as conflict-free. Dodd-Frank 1502 is only one part of the solution, but if it is undermined or dispensed with, companies will return to a climate of impunity for profiting from violent conflict and lucrative minerals will continue to enrich warlords in Congo.
Over 5.4 million dead. Over 2 million displaced. Congo is home to the deadliest conflict since World War II.
The war in eastern Congo began in the early 1990s and continues to this day. It has encompassed two international wars—from 1996 to 1997 and 1998 to 2003—and multiple invasions from neighboring countries, with combatants from many armed groups, both foreign and domestic. While Congo has abundant natural resources, it is also the world’s poorest country per capita, according to the United Nations. Congo is also home to the largest and most expensive U.N. peacekeeping mission in the world, MONUSCO, which has more than 20,000 personnel and an annual budget of $1.4 billion. The eastern part of the country is plagued by instability, as militias continue to wreak havoc on the population. Meanwhile, the conflict gets very little coverage by the international media.
The conflict in Congo is notorious for serious violations of human rights, including violence against women and the use of child soldiers. Since 1996 the International Rescue Committee has calculated that approximately 5.4 million people have died from war-related causes. In 2012 Congo ranked lowest on the United Nations Human Development Index.
As the war crimes trial of Bosco Ntaganda opens today at the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Enough Project highlights the significance of this case in its potential to bring historic accountability for war crimes allegedly committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Holly Dranginis, Policy Analyst at the Enough Project, said: "Ntaganda is charged with brutal crimes committed against a backdrop of vast minerals wealth. Ituri has been the site of some of Congo's worst violence - and it is also one of Congo's most minerals-rich regions. Violence against civilians during Ntaganda's reign at times resulted from battles to secure control over gold, diamonds and other precious resources. In the case that unfolds against Ntaganda in the coming months, if evidence reveals widespread theft of minerals, prosecutors have a duty to pursue charges of natural resource pillage as a war crime."
A former militia leader known widely as “The Terminator,” Ntaganda stands accused of eighteen war crimes and crimes against humanity for alleged attacks against civilians, widespread killing and rape, and the abduction of hundreds of children for use as soldiers. Current charges focus on a period during a violent armed campaign in the Ituri district of eastern Congo in 2002 and 2003.
"Ntaganda has been involved in at least half a dozen armed groups - including the national armies of both Congo and Rwanda - starting when he was a teenager,” Dranginis notes, “The crimes charged only concern a snapshot of that trajectory, but one hope is that this trial will in some ways shed light on the complexities of warfare in this region, the shuffling that occurs for individuals between groups and even nationalities, between soldier and business tycoon, between roles of victim and perpetrator."
Dranginis added: "This case is historic for a number of reasons, one is that it's the first time the ICC will examine sexual violence crimes against child soldiers allegedly under the accused's command. Typically sexual violence charges concern civilian victims - in this case, prosecutors will present evidence that militia commanders ordered or committed sexual violence against their own child soldiers."
Dranginis recently returned from research and interviews in eastern Congo and has heard from both survivors of the UPC's (Union des Patriotes Congolais) violence and current residents of Ituri.
About THE ENOUGH PROJECT
The Enough Project seeks to build leverage for peace and justice in Africa by helping to create real consequences for the perpetrators and facilitators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Enough aims to counter rights-abusing armed groups and violent kleptocratic regimes that are fueled by grand corruption, transnational crime and terror, and the pillaging and trafficking of minerals, ivory, diamonds, and other natural resources. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy recommendations, supports social movements in affected countries, and mobilizes public campaigns. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org
Today, September 2nd, 2015, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague opens its case against Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda. Ntaganda faces a total of 18 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Read More »
Entourage actor and Enough Project upstander Emmanuelle Chriqui wants to fly you and a friend to Hollywood to join her for a night out on the town. It only costs $10 to enter, and the funds benefit Enough’s Raise Hope for Congo campaign. Read More »
Over the past three years, teams of business persons, government officials, and civil society members have been traveling to mines in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to assess whether or not the mines are conflict-free. Out of a total 180 mines assessed so far, 141 have now been validated as conflict-free. Read More »
On Thursday 18th June 2015, Kingtson-Upon-Hull became the first city in the UK to pass a conflict-free resolution. In this guest blog post, campaign leader Mike Riley recounts the process of assembling a student-led campaign, presenting to the council, and ultimately passing a resolution. Read More »
The Enough Project’s Conflict-Free Campus Initiative (CFCI) draws on the power of student leadership to support peace efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo). CFCI students lead targeted activism campaigns aimed at addressing key impediments to peace, including the deadly conflict mineral trade. As a Campus Organizer for CFCI, you will be an essential part of strengthening the conflict-free movement on your campus. APPLY NOW!Read More »