KHARTOUM, Sudan — A new United Nations report says that the Congolese Army continues to funnel weapons to rebel groups that are smuggling millions of dollars in gold and other minerals out of Congo, helping sustain one of Africa’s bloodiest and most complicated wars.
The lengthy report, which has not been made public but was provided to The New York Times, details a vast, rebel-driven criminal network in eastern Congo with tentacles touching Spanish charities, Ukrainian arms dealers, corrupt African officials and even secretive North Korean weapons shipments.
None of this is especially shocking. For years, eastern Congo has been a steaming cauldron of ethnic tensions, competing commercial interests, land disputes and regional politics playing out at gunpoint.
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda is no neutral observer when it comes to the Democratic Republic of Congo. His attempts to mould events there have often exacerbated a conflict now in its 14th year.
Occasionally, though, Mr Kagame has a way of stating the obvious about his giant neighbour that shows up the failure of other would-be meddlers. There are two prerequisites, he remarked to me late last year, if peace is to be restored to the territory over which the Kinshasa government theoretically presides.
“If they could have a strong army, that would help them. But they should also have a political system that works. They need to have both ideally, but at least they should have one. To lack both is terrible!”
Despite hosting the most expensive United Nations mission ever undertaken in Africa, Congo is no closer today to having either.
UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. Security Council on Monday renewed sanctions against rebel groups in eastern Congo, despite a U.N. report that said the measures had so far failed to stop exports of gold and other minerals that have financed a decadelong war there in which millions of civilians have been killed.
Monday's resolution asks U.N. member nations to "ensure importers, processing industries and consumers of Congolese mineral products under their jurisdiction exercise due diligence on their suppliers and on the origin of the minerals they purchase."
The resolution doesn't mention any companies or countries, but the U.N. experts' report, which is to be released in the next few weeks, does. The report, which was reviewed by news organizations including The Wall Street Journal, blames Uganda, Rwanda and the United Arab Emirates for running a trading network of smuggled gold and other minerals.
Unlike in the diamond industry, no formal certification process exists to ensure conflict-free gold. Earthworks hopes that the No Dirty Gold coalition will help fuel the creation of such a system that “assures consumers and retailers that the gold they are buying has been produced in ways that minimize harm to people or the environment.”
This Sunday "60 Minutes" will present an investigation into how the global gold industry is helping fuel violence and chaos in the Congo.
CBS reporter Scott Pelley's investigation found that conflict in the region was often to do with different militias seeking control over valuable natural resources.
"If you do a conflict analysis, you will find that when there are spikes in violence, it has something to do with contestation over the mineral resources, gold and the rest of them," John Prendergast tells Pelley. Prendergast worked in the Clinton administration on Africa policy, and co-founded "The Enough Project," which works to expose war crimes.
A powerful segment on CBS’ 60 Minutes last night demonstrated with stark clarity how the trade in conflict gold is a major source of funding for armed groups that target civilian populations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The supply chain in gold can be made conflict-free through the same three steps that Enough has recommended for other conflict minerals.
The price of gold set another all-time record this past week. There's demand for gold for investments, for circuits in cell phones and computers, and, in this holiday season, for jewelry. But there's another price being paid for gold that you probably haven't heard about.
Gold and other minerals are funding the deadliest war since World War II. More than five million people have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Years ago, the jewelry industry banned the trafficking in so-called blood diamonds, but the same hasn't happened with gold.
In the heart of central Africa, "60 Minutes" found a campaign of rape and murder being funded largely by gold that is exported to the world.