Enough Project Faults Congo’s Ban on Mining

News from Africa

US-based anti-genocide lobby group says ban an incomplete solution to conflict minerals.

By Peter Omondi

Washington DC—In order to decrease violence fueled by the global trade in conflict minerals, Congo ‘s recent ban on mineral exports must be accompanied by long-term efforts to reform the trade, including a certification process, says the Enough Project. Last week, President Joseph Kabila announced a mineral export ban on the conflict-ridden and mineral-rich Walikale territory in North Kivu, which was then followed by a full export ban on all minerals mined in the eastern Congolese provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu , and Maniema.

“President Kabila has opened the policy window to reform on conflict minerals,” said Enough Policy Manager David Sullivan.  “However, the ban will not promote an end to the ongoing conflict unless it is accompanied by concrete plans to deliver army reform, certification of mineral exports, and opportunities for peaceful development.”

“Certification is the critical next step to altering the dynamics of minerals being traded for guns in Congo ,” said Enough Project Consultant Sasha Lezhnev. “The Obama administration should work with the governments of the region to implement a certification process for these minerals. The certification process should build on lessons learned from the Kimberley Process for conflict diamonds, including independent monitoring.”

The trade in conflict minerals is a critical driver of the war in eastern Congo , the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II. Armed groups, including units of the Congolese army, earn hundreds of millions of dollars per year trading in the mineral ores for tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold, which are essential to consumer electronics, jewelry, and other industries. Measures in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, signed by President Obama in July, require companies registered in the United States to report on steps taken to ensure they are not financing armed groups and military units in eastern Congo .

“This ban should in no way relieve companies of their responsibility to ensure that their supply chains are not contributing to violence in Congo ,” said Enough Policy Analyst Aaron Hall. “Export bans are difficult to enforce, could increase smuggling, and could hurt the livelihoods of Congolese miners. The Congolese government and the international community should work together on a comprehensive follow-up plan, which must include security sector reform and a focused strategy for dealing with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).”

Enough is a project of the Centre for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity.