Conflict gold in eastern Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (“Congo”) has endured more than two decades of violent conflict in which more than 5.4 million people have died from war-related causes. One of the primary drivers of violence has been the trade in conflict minerals—gold, tin, tantalum, and tungsten. While there has been significant progress in reducing the profits to armed groups from three out of the four conflict minerals, the trade in conflict gold continues to finance armed groups, according to the U.N. Group of Experts on the Congo. Armed groups use violence to control gold mines and trading routes; they profit from eastern Congo’s rich gold resources, and they terrorize civilians. Congo’s conflict gold is mainly smuggled to Uganda, Burundi, and Dubai and then it enters the global market, tainting the entire gold supply chain. Companies in the gold industry—jewelry retailers and manufacturers, refiners, miners, and investors—have the opportunity to help break the link between gold and violence in Congo and the surrounding region.
Campaign and leaderboard
In late 2013, the Enough Project began efforts to create a leaderboard of jewelry retailers that are taking action to combat the conflict gold trade. The interim leaderboard published here is one element of a broader campaign to engage jewelers, encourage companies to exercise supply chain due diligence, and educate the public with a positive narrative, highlighting industry efforts to help solve the problem of conflict gold. Enough’s aim in creating a jewelry leaderboard and an accompanying conflict gold campaign is to support responsible minerals trade initiatives in Congo and the region that help develop conflict-free mining, economic development in mining communities, and opportunities to source conflict-free gold from eastern Congo. Enough surveyed the top-selling jewelry retailers in the United States with three purposes:
- to enhance their understanding of the importance of this issue;
- to determine what efforts they are undertaking to address the issue of conflict gold; and
- to convey suggested areas for improvement that can make a real difference in combating the conflict gold trade.