It has now been more than 100 hours since a team of young U.S. activists, inspired to help stop the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa, descended on the Oklahoma City office of Senator Tom Coburn (R) to demand that he lift his hold on a bill aimed at neutralizing the LRA fighters and rebuilding communities long terrorized by the insurgency. Read More »
If you’ve read Adam Hochschild’s eye-opening and masterful King Leopold’s Ghost, you’ll probably have the same reaction I had when an advance copy of his newest article, “Blood and Treasure,” came across my desk: Stop multitasking and dedicate full attention to Hochschild’s piece. Read More »
Next Monday, March 8, will mark International Women's Day. It’s a global day during which women and men around the world join together to highlight the accomplishments of women, as well as call for their political, economic, and social empowerment. But we think that a day is just not enough to celebrate the accomplishments of women in Congo and around the world, as well as advocate for their empowerment. Join us for events all month long. Read More »
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is not an obvious candidate to be Africa's turnaround story of the coming decade. This is a country that has been pillaged by outsiders for more than a century, cursed by its extraordinary natural resource base to unparalleled levels of death and destruction. With a seemingly intractable war in the east, one of the worst corruption-fighting records in the world, and some of the highest rates of sexual violence ever recorded, Congo does not, understandably, lend itself well to optimistic prognoses. But sometimes a situation deteriorates so badly that it catalyzes transformative responses. And things can actually change, no matter how entrenched the troubles. That opportunity for real progress is exactly what I found on my recent visit to Congo.
Congo's conflict, the world's deadliest since World War II, is not really a war -- it's a business based on violent extortion. There are numerous armed groups and commercial actors -- Congolese, Rwandan, and Ugandan -- that have positioned themselves for the spoils of a deliberately lawless, accountability-free, unstable, highly profitable mafia-style economy. Millions of dollars are made monthly in illegal taxation of mining operations, smuggling of minerals, and extortion rackets run by mafia bosses based primarily in Kinshasa, Kigali, and Kampala. The spoils are tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold, minerals that go into laptops, cell phones, MP3 players, and jewelry stores in the West. Armed groups use terrifying tactics such as mass rape and village burning to intimidate civilians into providing cheap labor for this elaborate extortion racket.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is not an obvious candidate to be Africa's turnaround story of the coming decade. But sometimes a situation deteriorates so badly that it catalyzes transformative responses. Read More »
Appearing on Capitol Hill this week to testify about the Obama administration’s foreign policy priorities, Secretary of State Clinton offered some specific details – and personal dedication – on the topic of stopping the marauding Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa. Read More »
Nairobi — A campaign is growing in the United States to end wars and atrocities in eastern Congo by discouraging the export of what organisers describe as "conflict minerals."
The effort is inspired by the movement a few years ago that helped stop murderous conflicts in West Africa by successfully targeting the "blood diamonds" that were financing them.
The Congo initiative is also modelled on the influential US varsity-based campaign to halt mass killings in Darfur as well as on the earlier push against US corporate investment in apartheid South Africa.
Prof Herbert Weiss, a Congo expert at a Washington think tank, noted at a US university forum last week that an increasing number of Americans are at last paying attention to Congo.
The organiser of the conflict-minerals campaign John Prendergast told activists to rally behind proposals in the US Congress to create a global certification system for four valuable metals found in large quantities in Congo.
Monitoring would be put in place to ensure lawful control of these minerals, which are essential for the manufacture of telecommunications devices, Mr Prendergast said.
In honor of Valentine’s Day I attended a benefit production of Eve Ensler’s award-winning play The Vagina Monologues. This year the V-day global campaign focus is “Stop Raping our Greatest Resource: Power to Women in the DRC.” Over 5.4 million people have died in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since 1998 – currently 45,000 people die each month. Thousands of women experience brutal sexual violence on a daily basis. Thankfully journalists like Nicholas Kristof are keeping the DRC in the news – most recently with this moving video of a Message for President Obama. However, as one Congolese woman says, “we speak but nothing changes.” The Enough Project highlights how our demand for conflict minerals – the material in the cellphone in your pocket – fuels this deadly war. Congolese women and men risk their lives so we can talk on our cellphones, check our email and update our Facebook status. What will we do for them?