Human Rights

5 Stories You Might Have Missed This Week

A weekly round-up of must-read stories, posted every Friday.  Read More »

Congo Activism in the Face of the Chamber of Commerce’s Lawsuit

Despite the news this week that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers have filed a lawsuit against the Securities and Exchange Commission over the conflict minerals regulation, both companies and activists continue to fight for progress.  Read More »

Women and Genocide in the 21st Century: A Call for Action to End the Tragedy of Darfur

Darfur Women Action Group is hosting an event this weekend in Washington, D.C., focused on women and genocide. Niemat Ahmadi is the founder of the group, and she wrote this guest blog post about why the ongoing tragedy in Darfur demands such an event.  Read More »

From Child Miner to Jewelry Store: The Six Steps to Conflict Gold in Congo

The conflict-gold rush is thriving in eastern Congo. Recent U.S. legislation and supply-chain pressure from tech companies has made it difficult for armed groups in the region to sell the 3-T minerals—tin, tantalum, and tungsten—and as a result, rebels and army commanders have increasingly turned to gold. In a report released today, the Enough Project looks at the illegal conflict-gold trade in eastern Congo that is fueling one of the most violent conflicts in the world.  Read More »

Gold Is Now the Most Lucrative Conflict Mineral from Eastern Congo: Enough Project

Date: 
Oct 25, 2012

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Contact: Tracy Fehr, tfehr@enoughproject.org, +1 202-459-1219
 
GOMA, DR CONGO and WASHINGTON, DC – Gold smuggled from eastern Congo’s war zone is now the most lucrative conflict mineral and is ending up at jewelry stores and banks, according to a new investigative report by the Enough Project. The study found that following a 65 percent drop in profits from  the conflict minerals tin, tungsten, and tantalum, armed groups have increasingly turned to smuggling the fourth conflict mineral, gold, to generate income that finances mass atrocities in eastern Congo. The armed groups use poorly paid miners, who work in dangerous conditions, including thousands of children as young as eight years old. The study maps out how conflict gold makes its way from eastern Congo to consumers worldwide who purchase it in the form of wedding rings and watches, and investment banks that buy gold bars.
 
The study found that over $600 million of gold is illegally smuggled out of the Democratic Republic of Congo every year in a six-step process. Rebel groups such as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, are smuggling gold, and the Rwandan-backed M23 rebel group is attempting to retake control of gold mines and trading routes.
 
Sasha Lezhnev, author of the report and Enough Project Senior Policy Analyst, said: 
“The conflict gold rush has hit eastern Congo’s war zone. Armed militias such as M23 and the FDLR are financing their operations with conflict gold. As our investigation revealed, smuggled gold continues to flow through to gold chains, rings, and banks through a six-step process. The Dodd-Frank law on conflict minerals is starting to spur reform in the gold sector, but lucrative gold smuggling continues unabated. It is time for more effective action.”
The report, “From Child Miner to Jewelry Store: The Six Steps of Congo’s Conflict Gold,” tracks the transnational trade from the mines in eastern Congo to end products sold to consumers.
 
The six main steps of the conflict gold trade (laid out in an accompanying infographic) are:
1. Mines operated by warlords in eastern Congo;
2. Congolese smugglers working with armed groups; 
3. Regional smugglers in Uganda, Burundi, and Tanzania; 
4. Refiners in Dubai; 
5. Banks in Switzerland; and
6. Jewelers in the U.S., India and China. 
At the lowest end of the chain, gold miners in eastern Congo face some of the world’s worst working conditions and include up to 40 percent child miners, as young as eight years old. A handful of exporters in the region work with armed groups and smugglers to control the trade by pre-purchasing gold directly from the mines. A large percentage of conflict gold funds armed groups, many of whom use mass rape and violence to intimidate local populations in an effort to secure control of mines, trading routes, and other strategic areas.
 
According to the report, the majority of conflict-gold mines is located in South Kivu, making up an estimated 40-50 percent of Congo’s overall gold production. Gold from 15 major mines in North and South Kivu is mainly sold to smugglers, who illegally transport 99 percent out of the country to neighboring Uganda, Burundi, and Tanzania, and then take it to Dubai.
 
Enough Project Executive Director John C. Bradshaw said:
“Governments and companies need to do more to ensure transparency in the gold supply chain and to hold accountable armed groups and their business partners who profit from conflict gold.  To end the conflict gold trade and create a legitimate market that improves living standards in eastern Congo, companies need to invest in a formalized, traceable, and certified conflict-free gold sector.”
This is the first of two Enough Project papers on the illegal conflict gold trade from eastern Congo. The second will offer recommendations on how to formalize the trade, cut down on smuggling, and create jobs that provide living wages for Congolese miners.
 
 
View or download a conflict gold photo slideshow (credit Sasha Lezhnev/Enough Project): http://www.flickr.com/photos/enoughproject/sets/72157631828402860/ 
 
View or download an infographic mapping out conflict gold’s six-step process: http://enoughproject.org/files/conflict-gold-infographic.png
 
 
Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, the Enough Project focuses on crises in Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas of Africa affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a“3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. For more information, please visit www.enoughproject.org.  

 

 

U.S. Companies Making Strides to be Conflict-free in Congo, Despite Industry Lawsuit

Late last week the National Association of Manufacturers, or NAM, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce made their move, initiating a legal challenge against the SEC and requesting that “the rule be modified or set aside in whole or in part.” But plenty of companies are already working to become conflict free.  Read More »

Congo Dispatch: Key Minerals Smuggling Ring is in Good Health in Goma

Details from a confidential U.N. Group of Experts report on Congo emerged last week that show that smuggling of minerals into Rwanda and Burundi is on the rise, in spite of Congolese government efforts to regulate the trade. Furthermore, it seems that the profits from minerals clandestinely transported across the border are being used to fund the M23 rebellion, which began in April and has left half a million people displaced.

An incident and court case that transpired in Goma earlier this month, described in a new Enough field dispatch, provides a compelling illustration of how those smuggling operations work.  Read More »

Compromising with Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007 – 2012

The result of years of research, Sudan specialist and professor Eric Reeves today published a new eBook entitled Compromising with Evil that serves as a comprehensive archive of the atrocities committed in Sudan over the past five years. In this guest blog post Reeves explains the motivations behind the project.  Read More »

Mbeki's Moment to Support Lasting Peace in the Sudans

Date: 
Oct 22, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Tracy Fehr, tfehr@enoughproject.org, +1 202-459-1219

WASHINGTON – Today, the Enough Project issued its first publication in a series of policy briefs focusing on the international community’s extraordinary opportunity to help support peace within Sudan and between the two Sudans.  The brief discusses the need for President Mbeki and the African Union to take bold and specific actions to marshal the governments of Sudan and South Sudan closer to a more comprehensive peace. 

According to the Enough Project, President Mbeki’s report this week to the African Union Peace and Security Council offers him the unparalleled opportunity to provide his recommendations on possible resolutions to the outstanding issues and implementation mechanisms for those agreements already concluded between Sudan and South Sudan.

"The recent agreements between Sudan and South Sudan were a critical step forward, but for lasting peace between the two countries, the more difficult remaining issues need to be addressed at once," said John Prendergast, Enough Project Co-founder. "President Mbeki's role is indispensable this week. If he presents a strong, fair, credible set of proposals over Abyei, other disputed areas along the border, and asks the African Union for endorsement of those proposals as the way forward between the two countries, he could catalyze a real solution. If there is ambiguity, doubt, and reversion to further negotiations, the table will be set for further conflict."

The outstanding issues include the final status of the Abyei area, the definition of the disputed and claimed areas along the North-South border, international humanitarian access to the Sudanese states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, and direct political negotiations between the government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N. Continuing to ignore these issues would both undermine economic growth in the Sudans and pose an ongoing risk to regional stability.

“President Mbeki must seize the opportunity that his report to the A.U. offers him and table his proposal on the Abyei area in its entirety,” said Omer Ismail, Enough Project Advisor. “The proposal provides a sound basis upon which Sudan and South Sudan can settle the area’s final status and work together to ensure that the rights of local communities are protected, no matter the outcome of a referendum in Abyei.”

In addition to the outstanding issues, the policy brief notes the importance of implementation mechanisms for those agreements already signed between the governments of Sudan and South Sudan.

“Given the demonstrated tendency of the government of Sudan, in particular, to avoid implementation of agreements that it signs, internationally-backed implementation mechanisms will be critical to ensuring the success of all North-South agreements,” said Jennifer Christian, Enough Project Policy Analyst. “President Mbeki should challenge the A.U. and the U.N. to develop specific consequences that would await either party that significantly obstructs implementation of any agreements signed or proposals made, including sanctions and other measures under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter.”

Read the full brief: “President Mbeki’s Moment: A Stand for Peace in the Two Sudans

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Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, the Enough Project focuses on crises in Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas of Africa affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a“3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. For more information, please visit www.enoughproject.org.

Op-ed: Crimes against humanity in South Kordofan and Blue Nile

Displaced Nuban people in caves in the Nuba Mountains

The government of Sudan continues to carry out indiscriminate attacks and bombardment against civilian populations, block humanitarian aid, and commit other inhumane acts against its own people. However, under the Responsibility to Protect Doctrine, the burden to protect Sudanese civilians has already shifted to the international community and swift action is required, writes Enough Project's director of policy and advocacy Renata Rendón.   Read More »

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