Jewelers' Circular Keystone magazine's Cutting Remarks blog, which covers news and trends in the diamond industry, recently highlighted the increasing attention to conflict gold in the lucrative minerals trade that finances warlords and thus perpetuates insecurity in eastern Congo. Writer Rob Bates spoke to Enough Project Senior Policy Analyst Sasha Lezhnev about why the boost in attention to the gold trade is important and what the recent signing of a framework agreement aimed at ending the current fighting means for advocacy efforts. Here’s an excerpt:
Last weekend, a possibly momentous event occurred that could affect our industry: A peace deal was brokered in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
That area produces the so-called conflict gold that was the subject of Dodd-Frank section 1502. Unlike the Kimberley Process, meant to tackle a worldwide problem—which is why it is still around, even though the conflicts that led to its founding have long since fizzled—1502 was specifically designed to stop minerals, including gold, from fueling conflict in the Congo.
So if peace breaks out in Congo, could that eliminate the need for a rule on conflict gold?
It might, says Sasha Lezhnev of the Enough Project, one of the groups that pushed for 1502. “Theoretically, if there is no conflict, there is no need to report,” he says. But even if the current peace holds—and that’s a big if—he thinks there is a long way to go before the Eastern Congo could be considered peaceful. Days after the accord was signed, The Washington Post said the area “seems on the verge of renewed conflict,” as certain rebels are not party to the agreement.
And actually, instead of the heat being off, Enough says it now plans to ramp up its conflict gold campaign, after a period of mostly targeting electronic firms.
Read the full piece on Cutting Remarks.
Photo: Weighing gold on a small scale in eastern Congo (Enough / Sasha Lezhnev)