"10 years ago, we were under de facto control of armed groups...today, let's admit we are a long way from that. And if we’re honest, that’s in part because of Dodd-Frank – it came to shine the light on those illicit actors. Today, despite the problems with governance, you can feel more government control.” - Justine Masika Bihamba, Coordinator of the organization Synergy of Women for Victims of Sexual Violence
Conflict minerals have fueled and continue to help sustain armed violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo), linking them to the deadliest conflict globally since World War II.The four conflict minerals (gold, along with the 3Ts - tin, tantalum, and tungsten) are not the only sources of income to armed groups, but they are some of the most lucrative. The illegal exploitation of natural resources today is a manifestation of the grand corruption linked to violence that has marked successive governments in Kinshasa and the broader region since colonial times.
The U.N. Group of Experts on Congo found in 2016 that gold “provides the most significant financial benefit to armed groups” and “is the most lucrative and easily smuggled of the natural resources in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo." A study from the Enough Project found that armed groups made an estimated $185 million from conflict minerals in 2008. In 2007 the Pole Institute noted “minerals are a major source of income and of conflict in North Kivu as in the whole of the DRC,”
A mortality study by the International Rescue Committee looking at conflict-related deaths between August 1998 and April 2007 estimated that more than 5.4 million people died as a result of armed conflict in Congo.There has been continuing violence since that study, but no definitive follow up has been conducted on the mortality toll.
"A conflict-free minerals industry would contribute to ending the unspeakable violence the people of Congo have endured for years.”- Dr. Denis Mukwege, Founder and Medical Director of Panzi Hospital
Section 1502 on conflict minerals of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is a transparency measure, one part of a comprehensive approach to Congo’s challenges. Passed in 2010 and implemented by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2012, it creates a reporting requirement for all companies publicly traded in the United States with products containing any of the four conflict minerals. This creates a lever to support transparency, security, and the rule of law in the mining sector. Companies must now publicly disclose annually whether any of the gold or 3Ts in their supply chains originated in Congo or a neighboring country and, if so, describe the due diligence measures taken to determine the source of the minerals. Dodd-Frank 1502 does not require companies to divest from Congo or source from conflict-free mines. The law only requires companies to report on their mineral sourcing and due diligence practices.
The cost of compliance has been significantly overestimated by industry lobbyists. Claigan, an independent environmental consulting firm with expertise in supply chain management, estimates the total cost of Dodd-Frank 1502 compliance was approximately $140 million for 2014.This is a fraction of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s estimate of $3-4 billion for the first year.
“In 2014, we educated suppliers who mistakenly believed that CFSP-compliant smelters are, by definition, not sourcing from the Covered Countries, or whose conflict minerals policies indicated that they intend not to source from the Covered Countries at all.” – EMC Corporation (Source: Conflict Minerals Report 2014)
Consistent with its objective, Dodd-Frank 1502 along with related reforms has led to significant improvements in the transparency of corporate supply chains and to a major reduction in the number of 3T conflict mines in eastern Congo. More than 70 percent of the world’s smelters for the four minerals have now passed conflict-free audits. Before Dodd-Frank 1502, there was no certification mechanism for distinguishing conflict mines (i.e. mines controlled by armed groups or the Congolese army) from conflict-free mines, and there were no federal transparency requirements for companies on conflict minerals. The law and related reforms have changed these circumstances and created a two-tier market whereby the price for untraceable 3T conflict minerals is significantly lower than the price for verified conflict-free minerals. This price difference has made the trade in 3T minerals significantly less lucrative for armed groups.
Number of conflict free mines: 204 (as of April 2016)
Number of refiners that have passed audits: 242 (as of December 5th, 2016)
As of 2016, the International Peace Information Service (IPIS) found that over three-quarters (79
percent) of 3T miners surveyed in eastern Congo were working in mines where no armed group involvement has been reported. This is a significant change given that the U.N. Group of Experts stated as recently as 2010 that “in the Kivu provinces, almost every mining deposit [was] controlled by a military group.”
As of December 5th, 2016, 75 percent of smelters/refiners worldwide (242 out of 319 total) for the four conflict minerals have passed audits by the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative or associated programs, and an additional 24 smelters/refiners are participating in the program (i.e. are in the process of being audited) for a total of 266 participants (over 80 percent).
There is now an emerging certification mechanism run by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), and mines have begun to be validated as conflict-free. As of June 25, 2015, 141 mines in eastern Congo had been validated as conflict-free by multi-stakeholder teams made up of U.N. officials and Congolese civil society, business, and government representatives.
In surveyed locations, “minerals that do not go through conflict-free programs sell for 30 to 60 percent less” than minerals verified as conflict-free, thus reducing profits for armed group trying to sell conflict minerals.
"...Alcatel-Lucent does not want to prevent its suppliers from sourcing from legitimate mines located within the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its neighboring countries (as doing so could be detrimental to the legitimate economies and populations of those countries).” – Alcatel-Lucent (Source: Conflict Minerals Report 2013)
Dodd-Frank 1502 must be fully implemented, not abandoned, and strengthened with livelihood projects and other support to mining communities. As often occurs in places where black markets are disrupted by reform, Congo’s 3T mining sector is being affected by the transition to a conflict-free economy, and many miners have experienced livelihood challenges.The original conflict minerals draft legislation included resources for livelihood programs for mining communities, but unfortunately those provisions were omitted from the final law and thus resources were not forthcoming in a timely way, causing hardship for some communities. Some aid has been disbursed to support conflict-free mining, but more support for livelihoods projects is needed. The solution to uncovering and eliminating these harmful illicit markets is not to reduce transparency measures but rather to strengthen and expand them.
Livelihood projects should include alternative livelihoods programs and artisanal mining support. Project planning should involve concerted community consultations and decision-making, and projects should encompass microfinance programs, programs to increase women’s accessibility to mining and other livelihoods, and transition programs for child miners. Projects should also include aid for the formalization of artisanal mining—including the creation of artisanal mining zones, validation of more conflict-free mines, capacity building for mining cooperatives, provision of equipment, and development of safety standards for miners.
Section 5 of the original “Conflict Minerals Trade Act” (introduced on Nov. 11, 2009) included provisions for livelihood support. Since that time, the Enough Project has repeatedly called on the United Nations, the United States, and other governments to engage in a process of dialogue and reform in Congo that is broadly inclusive of Congolese civil society, business, and government representatives.
"Armed men have been free to exploit minerals away from any eyes. The formula for exploitation has been to attack civilians. To do that, they harm the women. When women are raped, the men are forced to flee, the children can’t survive, and the village is abandoned - then the area is free for exploitation.” - Archbishop Francois Rusengo, Archbishop of Bukavu, South Kivu
Many Congolese communities and leaders—including Nobel Peace Prize nominee and Sakharov Prize winner Dr. Denis Mukwege, community activist Justine Masika Bihamba, and Archbishop François-Xavier Maroy Rusengo of Bukavu, South Kivu—support Dodd-Frank 1502. Leaders and activists support the law because they have seen direct positive impacts, because they believe in transparency and the rule of law, or both.
Dr. Denis Mukwege: "A conflict-free minerals industry would contribute to ending the unspeakable violence the people of Congo have endured for years. Government must not only enact strong legislation, they must be willing to enforce the law. Companies bear the responsibility of compliance and public disclosure, and acting transparently as consumers are increasingly aware of conflict-free components on the market. Tens of thousands of legitimate miners would benefit from a clean, transparent minerals industry…The mineral trade is one of the components that drive suffering in Congo.”
Open letter signed by 31 Congolese civil society leaders, experts, and former ambassadors: “It is time for another broader push for reform on conflict minerals and natural resource governance in order to complement the Dodd-Frank legislation and deepen related minerals reforms. Dodd-Frank has been the primary driver of corporate and regional policy change on conflict minerals.”
WATCH: Conflict Minerals Legislation - View from Eastern Congo
Congolese miners and human rights activists speak about the impact of Dodd-Frank in Congo in this video from 2012.
More Resources and Information
Click here to download PDF version of Progress and Challenges on Conflict Minerals: Facts on Dodd-Frank 1502
Like many around the globe, women across crisis zones in east and central Africa are subject to sexual and gender-based violence. In the Democratic Republic of Congo particularly, SGBV is a disturbing feature of the country’s decades-long conflict as it is continually used as a weapon of war. Today, on International Women’s Day, the Enough Project is highlighting the vulnerable security situation for the women in eastern Congo’s mining areas. Read More »
On January 31, Acting Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Michael Piwowar welcomed interested parties to submit comments in response to a statement calling into question the current Conflict Minerals Rule. The Enough Project has submitted a comment in response. Read More »
In recent weeks, human rights groups and civil society members based in eastern Congo and the region issued eight different letters in support of Dodd-Frank 1502, representing 101 organizations in total. Read More »
It was not long ago that central Africa was mired in its "first world war" that led to 5.4 million deaths in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Slowly and painstakingly, conflict-affected areas have started to recover. But peace is fragile, and a reversion to widespread violence is never a far-off prospect. Read More »
The conflict-free minerals trade has been slowly but steadily increasing in recent years, and 2016 resulted in record-high exports from the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo once again. The North Kivu province, the most 3T-rich minerals province in Congo, exported record-high conflict-free export numbers for both tin and tantalum in 2016. This counters the claims that Dodd-Frank 1502, often referred to as the conflict minerals law, is leading to a de facto embargo on eastern Congo’s minerals. Read More »
This Valentine’s Day the Enough Project is excited to announce we will once again be ranking leading companies on their efforts to source conflict-free minerals from Congo. With the Dodd-Frank 1502 conflict minerals law under increasing threat of being repealed or weakened, this consumer holiday is the perfect time to let companies know we expect a strong commitment to conflict-free sourcing. Read More »
On February 6th, Elm Sustainability Partners, an independent advisory firm, published detailed information demonstrating that implementation costs related to federal conflict minerals reporting requirements for businesses have been substantially lower than expected and U.S. companies have in fact seen “tangible business benefits.” Read More »
New State Procurement Policy to Support a Conflict-Free Minerals Trade and Peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Human rights activists and policymakers are celebrating as Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker will sign a statewide “conflict-free” legislation in an official ceremony tomorrow afternoon. Massachusetts now joins Maryland and California as the third state in the country to have passed legislation supporting a conflict-free minerals trade and peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as 25 schools and six cities around the world which have implemented similar policies.
The law requires the state to conduct an assessment and issue a report on its procurement policies with regard to conflict minerals from Congo. The report findings will be used to encourage the implementation of procurement mechanisms that support conflict-free sourcing from Congo.
The legislation, Resolve S.2463, was championed by Boston Mayor and former State Representative Marty Walsh as well as Governor Baker. It is a result of over six years of campaigning by local activists and Congolese diaspora members led by Congo Action Now, and student activists participating in the Enough Project’s Conflict-Free Campus Initiative.
This process is aligned with the goals of the national conflict minerals legislation, Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which requires publicly traded companies to report annually on their conflict minerals supply chain due diligence.
Annie Callaway, Advocacy & Activist Manager for the Enough Project, said: "Resolve S.2463 is a result of over six years of persistence from students, activists, and Congolese diaspora in Massachusetts' conflict-free movement. This unprecedented collaboration will not go unnoticed in the broader push for responsible sourcing from Congo. By committing to evaluate its own procurement practices, Massachusetts joins the growing number of individuals and institutions voicing demand for conflict-free products."
Stephen R. Hilbert, Foreign Policy Advisor for Africa and Global Development, Office of International Justice and Peace at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said: “The Congo Conflict Minerals Act, Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank bill has to be one our country’s greatest “Good Samaritan” acts in recent history. It was the culmination of bipartisan work to acknowledge the effects that illicit mineral mining had on the deadliest conflict in our world since World War II. Since 2008 the Catholic Church in the Congo highlighted how illicit mineral mining fueled militias and conflict. The Church in Congo worked with the Church in the United States to help promote legislation that would help end the suffering. The Church met with the Securities and Exchange Commission to ensure rules were rigorous and transparent and even testified in 2013 to defend the bill from Congressional attempts to repeal it. This bill has even deeper meaning for the Congolese people. Going all the way back to 1885, the Congolese people have watched foreign powers exploit their country for its mineral and natural wealth while the people lived in poverty. Section 1502 breaks that 115 year-long brutal legacy. The United States showed great leadership in passing and enforcing Section 1502 and should be proud of its accomplishment.”
Sasha Lezhnev, Associate Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: "Massachusetts took a major step forward in the fight against deadly conflict minerals today. Taxpayer money should not be used to subsidize companies that are unable to weed conflict minerals out of their supply chains. This resolution is timely and will help drive further industry reform."
Julie Kabukanyi,Congolese diaspora community leader and member of Congo Action Now, said: "The children of Congo are dying for demanding their rights to have democratically elected leaders. Even though they are denied sound education, health care, employment, they know deep down that a democratically elected government will respond to the aspirations of the long-suffering Congolese people. Resolve S.2463 indicates that the state of Massachusetts cares about the Congolese people, and is willing to work to support their fight for peace."
The UN Group of Experts stated as recently as 2010 that “in the Kivu provinces, almost every mining deposit [was] controlled by a military group.” In a major change and thanks to the tireless efforts of activists, as of October 2016, 79 percent of miners working at tin, tantalum, and tungsten mines in eastern Congo surveyed by the International Peace Information Service were not working under the presence of armed actors.
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.
About THE CONFLICT-FREE CITIES and CONFLICT-FREE CAMPUS INITIATIVE
Initiatives of the Enough Project’s “Raise Hope for Congo” campaign, the Conflict-Free Cities and Conflict-Free Campus Initiative (CFCI) draw on the power of student leadership and activism to help support peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. By encouraging university officials, local governments, and other stakeholders - large purchasers of electronics and powerful spokespersons - to commit to measures that pressure electronics companies to responsibly invest in the minerals sector, consumers are voicing the demand for conflict-free products from Congo. Comprehensive reform is needed in Congo for sustainable peace - now is the time is for activists to lead the conflict-free movement. Join us: www.raisehopeforcongo.org/campus or www.raisehopeforcongo.org/content/conflict-free-cities