“Point of Origin” report published today documents local views on impact of USA Dodd-Frank 1502 Law and reform efforts in Congo’s mining trade: “Recent progress should galvanize policymakers to strengthen 1502’s enforcement”
As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrives today in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Enough Project released an in-depth status report on initiatives to increase security and transparency in eastern Congo’s mining trade, including the highly contentious Dodd-Frank section 1502 “conflict minerals” regulations.
The report, “Point of Origin: Status Report on the Impact of Dodd-Frank 1502 in Congo” by Senior Policy Analyst Holly Dranginis, documents from a local perspective a range of positive outcomes from the reforms. The report cites a growing roster of verified “conflict-free” mines, a decrease of resources going to armed groups, a reduction in cross-border militia support from neighboring countries, and a burgeoning sense of local security and hope among citizens and local leaders in some mining communities freed from control of violent militias. The report also details collateral problems associated with reforms that remain to be addressed, including high level corruption and limited alternative livelihoods for artisanal miners.
The UN chief’s visit is expected to include a trip to Goma, in the heart of Congo’s resource-rich mining region beset with conflict since 1996.
Among its findings, “Point of Origin” offers policy recommendations to reduce smuggling in Congo and neighboring countries. In response, the Enough Project calls for military prosecutors in Congo and neighboring jurisdictions to develop comprehensive strategies for prosecuting high-level offenders. Nine key recommendations are presented to further bolster local security, employment, community welfare, and rule of law.
Holly Dranginis, report author and Senior Policy Analyst at the Enough Project, said: “This movement began in Congo, with activists who are still on the front lines demanding an end to violence and secrecy in their mining sector. Dodd-Frank 1502 is not a panacea – it is one component of a critical shift toward rule of law, and transparency. What’s urgent now is to use pressure and accountability to eradicate the flaws in the system that allow for continued violence, corruption, and economic disparity.”
Dominique Bikaba, Executive Director of Strong Roots, a Bukavu-based advocacy organization said: “Our work in eastern Congo pushing for transparency and security in the mining sector is finally bearing fruit. Rebuilding the economy can be done. The thing that seemed impossible was establishing security — and Dodd-Frank 1502 helped us with that. The work is far from over, but recent progress should galvanize policymakers to strengthen 1502’s enforcement.”
John Prendergast, Founding Director of the Enough Project, said: “Congo’s leaders have exploited the minerals sector for their personal benefit for far too long, to the grave detriment of the general population, especially in the east. This pattern of criminality extends far beyond Congo’s borders, throughout the supply chain. Dodd-Frank is one of a range of tools to revolutionize the way civil society and policymakers address these patterns. As we’ve heard from activists in Congo: the status quo wasn’t working.”
The “Point of Origin” report is based on 2015 and 2016 field research in eastern Congo with miners, traders, human rights activists, civil society leaders, industry experts, and complemented by expert research conducted by groups like the United Nations Group of Experts and the International Peace Information Service (IPIS).
Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Conflict Minerals Rule, along with new regional reforms, have improved global minerals supply chain transparency and begun to help break links between the minerals trade and violent conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the report.
Images for media use (Photo credit: Holly Dranginis / Enough Project)
Narrative dispatch with images – “Boom Town: What happened when Wall Street reform came to Congo’s frontier mining towns”
SELECTED REPORT EXCERPTS:
- REGIONAL REFORM: For the first time, regulation of the region’s 3TG (tungsten, tantalum, tin and gold) mining sector and global minerals supply chain is developing, spurred in part by enforcement of Dodd-Frank Section 1502 and the SEC’s Conflict Minerals Rule.
- ARMED GROUPS:
- Civil society activists who monitor the minerals trade in North and South Kivu, interviewed for the report, provide local witness that armed groups are not nearly as prevalent at 3T mines as they were five and 10 years ago.
- Armed group control over tin, tantalum, and tungsten mines has decreased in many parts of eastern Congo, and calm has been restored to some communities that once lived under repressive, violent, and unpredictable rebel regimes.
- Since the 2013 defeat of M23, a group that controlled minerals-rich territories and drew funding from minerals smuggling rings, there has been no major Rwandan-backed rebel group active in eastern Congo.
- The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), an armed rebel group which has drawn significant resources from illegal mining in the eastern provinces, has diminished significantly in troop strength over the past six years.
- Defections by armed group combatants in North Kivu doubled between 2014 and 2015, with FDLR soldiers among the highest.
- LOCAL VOICES: Local leaders, citizens and miners in Goma, Bukavu, and Rubaya have observed a significant shift from the worst times of armed group control.
- Gerver Hakizimana, a civil society leader in Rubaya, told Enough, “There have been a lot of armed groups who have taken this town – people would go into hiding or live in the mountains. The groups would force people to work, and recruit children. Now, no more armed groups. Now the mining police control and secure the mines. People are working in an organized way.”
- In South Kivu, Lubula Igomokelo, an assistant director at Panzi Foundation which works with survivors of sexual violence, told Enough, “The link between minerals and violence was something that became obvious, in a sense. The [sexual violence] victims were all coming in for treatment from areas with very active mining.”
- Justine Masika Bihamba of Women’s Synergy for Sexual Violence Victims, based in Goma told Enough, “Before, mining was almost fully controlled by armed groups…Today, let’s admit they shy away from doing that. And if we’re honest, part of that is because of Dodd-Frank. It came to shine a light on those illicit actors…”
- Ayuby Andrea, a food trader in Rubaya, agreed: “Things are coming back slowly with security in Rubaya. Mining is going on today. It has been very peaceful here now.” Previously, he described, “The armed groups would pillage, they’d grab our belongings and flee into the forest. We fled to the camps from Masisi. Back in 2007, I stayed in the camps for three years,” recounting, “It was pretty bad – we slept like beasts, we hardly ate. Fear was permanent. And killings became normal.”
- Justine Masika Bihamba: “There’s a link between traceability and the well-being of communities – we’ll know how many minerals are going out, how much value, volume, and how much, theoretically, should trickle down to communities.”
- Congolese citizens, residents, and diaspora have had substantial and essential roles in establishment of the SEC’s Conflict Minerals Rule, the Congressional hearings on Dodd-Frank 1502 in 2012, 2013 and 2015, respectively, and the implementation of in-region minerals reform measures.
- SECURITY STILL AT RISK:
- Recent events in Rubaya illustrate the potential for conflict-free mining areas to backslide into armed violence if oversight and enforcement mechanisms are weak in unstable parts of eastern Congo.
- Despite significant security gains in 3T mining areas, armed group activity and some factions of the Congolese army continue to pose threats in several mining areas of eastern Congo, especially at gold mines. Illicit gold mining and illegal taxation continue to provide financing to Congolese army commanders, armed groups, and criminal networks in the region.
- Violence perpetrated by armed groups and the army has consistently included sexual and gender-based violence, especially rape. Efforts to improve security in mining areas must include measures to protect and provide legal and health services to women and girls, even where armed groups are not present. Reports of sexual assault or micro-economic systems reliant on transactional sex that make women extremely vulnerable are common in eastern Congo’s mining areas, even in civilian-controlled areas.
- CONGO’S NEIGHBORS: Neighboring countries have provided a market for those minerals and impunity for perpetrators of related fraud, forced labor, and other crimes. The role of Congo’s neighbors in these illicit systems remains pivotal.
- CONGO’S ARMY: Involvement of army soldiers in smuggling, coupled with scarce resources for monitoring and law enforcement, has encouraged impunity for smuggling minerals from non-validated sites into legitimate pipelines.
REPORT RECOMMENDATIONS: The Enough Project report details 9 key recommendations to ensure that Dodd-Frank 1502 and related reforms are fully implemented to the benefit of Congolese citizens and the region’s formal mining sector:
- Combating smuggling
- Improving Security
- Enforcing Sanctions and Prosecuting Serious Crimes
- Holding Regional Actors Accountable
- Improving Artisanal Mining
- Requiring Quality Due Diligence
- Increasing In-Region Sourcing
- Improving Livelihoods
- Increasing Protection for Activists
Over the past 15 years, a severe lack of regulation and accountability in the Africa’s Great Lakes regional mining sector has helped lead to a dynamic in which armed actors systematically gain territorial control and wealth through the use of violence with impunity. Until recently, most of the minerals in this illegal system entered the global supply chain unchecked, often ending up in retail products like electronics, jewelry, appliances, and motor vehicles.
Eastern Congo has suffered decades-long armed conflict funded in large part by the illicit mining, trading, and sales of valuable minerals. Decades of violence, weak rule of law, and the hijacking of state structures by powerful elites prevented the emergence of transparent, legal mining sectors in the Great Lakes region. The resulting links between violence and consumer products have inspired consumer, investor, and advocacy pressure for reforms, which helped lead to Dodd-Frank 1502, E.U. draft legislation related to responsible minerals sourcing, and in-region reforms including a regional minerals certification system.
In the tantalum-rich town of Rubaya in North Kivu, where Enough conducted field interviews in July, residents still remember a revolving door of armed groups and the fear and violence associated with their control. Miners, traders, and civil society leaders Enough spoke to in Rubaya all recalled violence between five and 10 years ago including fighting and abuses by armed groups like CNDP, M23, Mai Mai, FDLR and the Congolese army.
About THE ENOUGH PROJECT
The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention policy group, 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