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.
In this May 5 op-ed that originally appeared in The Hill, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress Molly Elgin-Cossart urges the U.S. Senate to quickly confirm the President's appointment of Gayle Smith as Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Read More »
A trade in illegally mined and smuggled “conflict gold” is fueling both high-level military corruption and violent rebel groups in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), according to a new report by the Enough Project. “Congo’s Conflict Gold Rush: Bringing gold into the legal trade in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” by the Enough Project’s Fidel Bafilemba and Sasha Lezhnev, offers an in-depth portrait of the conflict gold supply chain, from muddy artisanal mines where gold is dug out with shovels and pick-axes, through illicit transport routes in Uganda, Burundi, and Dubai. Based on seven months of field research at mines and in regional capitals, the report provides an in-depth discussion of solutions to the conflict gold supply chain. The U.S. government, European Union, jewelers, socially responsible investors, the World Bank, and activists all have important roles to play. Read More »
A trade in illegally mined and smuggled “conflict gold” is fueling both high-level military corruption and violent rebel groups in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), according to a new report by the Enough Project. “Congo’s Conflict Gold Rush: Bringing gold into the legal trade in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” by the Enough Project’s Fidel Bafilemba and Sasha Lezhnev, offers an in-depth portrait of the conflict gold supply chain, from muddy artisanal mines where gold is dug out with shovels and pick-axes, through illicit transport routes in Uganda, Burundi, and Dubai. Based on seven months of field research at mines and in regional capitals, the report provides an in-depth discussion of solutions to the conflict gold supply chain.
By Fidel Bafilemba and Sasha Lezhnev | Apr 21, 2015
In this 101, Sudan and South Sudan Policy Analyst Akshaya Kumar answers 5 questions about the GHRAVITY Executive Order (Grave Human Rights Abuses by the Governments of Iran and Syria Via Information Technology) and how it can be expanded to allow the U.S. to target the middle men and enablers of atrocities in Sudan. Read More »
Editor's Note: The letter below, from a coalition of experts and NGOs including the Enough Project, was released recently. The letter, directed at Secretary of State John Kerry, supports the U.S. Government's ongoing efforts to promote free and fair elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and proposes specific steps for enhancing engagement.Read More »
Ohio University student and STAND Campaigns Coordinator Luke Kubacki reflects on his experience at the Lemkin Summit: A National Gathering of the Next Generation of Human Rights Defenders in February 2015. Read More »
Ali Karti, Sudan’s foreign minister and primary diplomat, was invited to attend today's White House Prayer Breakfast, triggering protests from anti-genocide activists. In this ThinkProgress piece, Sudan and South Sudan Policy Analyst Akshaya Kumar answers 7 questions about Karti, the ongoing conflicts in Sudan, and the U.S. government's involvement in supporting peace in the country. Read More »
January 13, 2015 --- Dominic Ongwen, one of the most senior commanders of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), will be transferred to the International Criminal Court (ICC), according to the U.S. State Department. Enough Project analysts are available for interviews, background on Ongwen, and expert commentary on the LRA and significance of the ICC referral in this case.
Kasper Agger, Enough Project LRA expert and Uganda-based field researcher, said: “The transfer of Dominic Ongwen to the ICC is a major victory for the thousands of LRA victims and a chance for Ongwen to go through a fair trial. Hopefully this can draw attention to massive rebuilding tasks in LRA affected areas, including the need for a comprehensive reconciliation and transitional justice process in Northern Uganda.”
Holly Dranginis, Enough Project Policy Analyst, said: “Ongwen's transfer to the ICC is historic - a victory for the victims of the LRA's brutality, many of whom have been bravely demanding justice for over a decade now. It's also a welcome confirmation that the United States is increasingly supportive of the ICC's efforts in this region. The next step is for Ongwen to have a fair and thorough trial, with full consideration of crimes committed against him as a child, and robust protection for victims and witnesses.”
Abducted by the LRA at the age of 10, Ongwen rose in the ranks of the militia as a protégé of LRA leader Joseph Kony, and has been indicted by the ICC for multiple crimes against humanity including murder, pillaging, and enslavement.
The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress aiming to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, Central African Republic, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more: www.enoughproject.org.
From the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to Al-Shabaab, many of the world’s most infamous and destabilizing armed actors today finance their activities in part through the illegal exploitation and trade of natural resources. Theft in the context of armed conflict constitutes the war crime of pillage, which is punishable in most domestic jurisdictions and at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Depuis l'État islamique d'Irak et du Levant (ISIL : Islamic State of Irak and the Levant) de l’Armée de Résistance du Seigneur (LRA : Lord’s Resistance Army) jusqu'à Al-Shabaab, de nombreuses forces armées, les plus infâmes et les plus déstabilisatrices du monde d’aujourd'hui, financent en partie leurs activités grâce au trafic et à l'exploitation illicites des ressources naturelles. Tout vol commis dans le cadre des conflits armés est considéré comme crime de guerre de pillage, lequel est punissable dans la plupart des juridictions nationales ainsi qu’à la Cour Pénale Internationale (CPI).