WASHINGTON, D.C. – As a growing consumer movement demands cell phones and gadgets that are guaranteed to be free of conflict minerals that fuel mass rape by armed groups in eastern Congo, human rights activists see an opportunity to end the exploitation of Congo’s people and the pillaging of its resources.
“The new U.S. law on conflict minerals and the growing, global campaign have shaken up the supply chain, and many of those who have been profiting now say they are willing to change,” says Prendergast. “Now the U.S. government and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton must help leverage the end of the war in eastern Congo through leadership on two of the issues that will catalyze a broader solution to the cycles of violence there: minerals certification and comprehensive army reform.”
“The objective of minerals certification is to change the commercial calculus from violence to stability, from smuggling to legality, from collapsed state to rebuilding state, from private bank accounts to public revenues,” says Prendergast. He argues that a regional effort to create a system that improves on the model developed ten years ago to stop the blood diamonds that fueled wars in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Angola merits sustained support.
Prendergast also argues that security sector reform is crucial, and that three keys to army reform are troop training, including in human rights law; adequate and reliable payment of troops; and holding soldiers accountable for war crimes and other crimes against civilian populations.
“There needs to be real accountability for commanders and armed group leaders, and their troops, not an atmosphere of impunity in the face of human rights crimes,” says Prendergast. “This requires serious investigations, naming and shaming, and prosecuting those that deserve it.”
Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, the Enough Project focuses on crises in Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas of Africa affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a “3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. For more information, please visit www.enoughproject.org.
At rare moments during the course of a war, a confluence of factors come together to provide a window of opportunity for real conflict transformation. Now Congo has a unique opportunity to bring an end to more than 125 years of having its people and resources pillaged by colonial powers, international traders, neighbors, and foreign and domestic armed groups.
The arrest this week in Paris of the political leader of the FDLR rebel group in eastern Congo is a boon for international justice, but will it have a positive effect on conditions where the crimes were committed? Read More »
In a conference that facilitated breakthrough dialogue, the 11 countries of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, donors, industry leaders, and NGOs met in Kenya last week to hammer out standards for an international certification scheme for tracking conflict minerals from Congo and its surrounding countries. Read More »
The new U.S. law on conflict minerals is an impressive step toward regulating the trade in minerals that help fund armed groups in Congo. But given the many different actors and countries involved in the supply chain, a broader commitment is required to make a due diligence mechanism loophole-free, writes Sarah Zingg Wimmer in this guest post. Read More »
Last year, the STAND chapter at Stanford University claimed an impressive success bringing a conflict-mineral-conscious investment policy to campus. STAND co-president and guest blogger Mia Newman describes how they made it happen. Read More »
CNN.com: Ashley Judd confronts Africa's deadly mineral issue
Editor's note: Ashley Judd traveled to eastern Congo, her second time to the region, with John Prendergast of the Enough Project at the Center for American Progress (http://www.enoughproject.org/). Since 2003, Ashley has traveled the world visiting vulnerable populations, especially girls and women, focusing on grassroots solutions that transform and save lives. Amongst other affiliations, she serves on the board of Population Services International. For more information on the campaign against conflict minerals visit raisehopeforcongo.org.
With a dozen humanitarian missions behind her, Ashley Judd has ventured to Africa to challenge the relationship between valuable minerals and unspeakable violence.
She's meeting this week with local businessmen, officials and victims of rape and other atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to raise awareness about the issue of conflict minerals.
Natural resources such as tin, tantalum and tungsten -- which are used to make the world's cell phones, computers and other electronics -- fuel continued violence in Congo, especially mass rapes.