Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act has been a primary driver of corporate and regional policy change on conflict minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo), helping create an economic incentive for ending exploitative mining practices and reforming the region’s minerals sector. However, Dodd-Frank 1502 is only one component in a broad set of peacebuilding tools, and it must be accompanied by other initiatives to advance development of a responsible minerals trade that improves the livelihoods and security of people living in eastern Congo. These changes toward peace must include government and corporate responses, programs directly supporting the livelihoods of community members in eastern Congo, and full implementation of the regional peace agreement known as the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework in a way that is truly inclusive of those most affected by it.
This resource page is designed to provide an update on the efforts to end the conflict minerals trade that finances numerous brutal armed groups in eastern Congo, note remaining challenges, and suggest strategies for encouraging lasting peace.
For more information, please see the additional resources below - and check out the letter published by Congolese civil society members here and joint open letter here.
For nearly two decades, the war and widespread illicit exploitation of natural resources in eastern Congo has subjected Congolese citizens to a humanitarian crisis that desperately needs to be addressed. Broad reform of the minerals sector is part of a comprehensive strategy to end violence in eastern Congo, and Dodd-Frank 1502 is one catalytic component of that effort.
As part of the wider Wall Street reform effort, Dodd-Frank 1502 ordered the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to develop a rule that requires companies to find out where their minerals come from. The rule, adopted in 2012, aims to interrupt long-standing practices of supply chain opacity, replacing them with mandatory corporate transparency, due diligence, and public awareness about four minerals that are known to fuel unspeakable violence in Congo and the surrounding region. The law has provided an economic incentive for change, which has led to increased security for many mining communities once directly controlled or terrorized by armed groups.
However, governments, donors, and companies have yet to deliver or finalize many of the other critical reforms necessary to end the conflict minerals trade.
Three main areas of reform are needed:
Livelihood programs for mining communities
Increased transparency and due diligence
Governance and mining reforms in Congo and the region
Without attention to these three categories, Dodd-Frank 1502 and any other complementary initiatives to end the conflict minerals trade in eastern Congo will be incomplete.
Livelihood Projects for Mining Communities
Dodd-Frank 1502 is making it less profitable for armed groups to illegally trade minerals in Congo and the region, helping begin the shift of the economic environment in eastern Congo and the region away from benefiting armed groups and towards creating incentives for a peaceful trade. Although miners who worked in conflict mines were subject to immense harassment, debt slavery, and attacks by armed groups and military officers, the shifts away from conflict mining also mean that many miners have had to move to other areas to try to earn a livelihood, while the responsible minerals trade slowly develops. From the beginning, human rights and mineral reform advocates have called for livelihood programs for these miners to complement Dodd-Frank 1502, but the programs have been too slow in coming to the ground in Congo. They must be boosted now. This includes:
Increasing capacity-building and micro-finance programs for artisanal mining cooperatives in eastern Congo
Finalizing reforms to the minerals sector
Respecting the rights of artisanal miners and ensuring they are given access to a legal, profitable market for their minerals
Significantly enhancing programs to develop alternative sources of income, such as high-value agriculture
Increased Transparency and Due Diligence in Tin, Tantalum, Tungsten, and Gold Supply Chains
The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) has spearheaded a new regional minerals certification process. Certification is a means to the goals of transparency, compliance, and rule of law. The process has been slow and must advance with more expediency for Congo to see outside investment and experience benefits on the ground.
Retail companies are increasingly engaged in developing positive supply chain management tools, joining multi-stakeholder groups to advance the tools and policies for conflict-free minerals sourcing, and taking an increasing interest in supporting peace in the Great Lakes region. This evolution is largely due to Dodd-Frank 1502’s disclosure requirements and has positive implications for numerous industries and minerals-rich regions around the world.
Governance and Mining Reforms in Congo and the Region
Governance reform in the region’s mining sector must be strengthened, and we must not lose momentum for meaningful, lasting change. Great Lakes governments, particularly Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, must be at the forefront of these efforts, but the U.S. and other governments, international financial institutions, private investors, mining companies, consumers, and other international actors all have roles to play. They should work closely with Congolese mining communities and regional stakeholders to improve mine inspections in Congo and the ICGLR minerals certification process, increase meaningful support to Congolese miners, and invest in conflict-free mines, particularly for gold.
In large part due to Dodd-Frank 1502 and related reform efforts, there is progress toward the development of a conflict-free minerals sector in Congo. There are laws in place to prevent multinational companies from having opaque supply chains, and an increasing number of mines are being validated as conflict-free. Dodd-Frank 1502 is only one part of the solution, but if it is undermined or dispensed with, companies will return to a climate of impunity for profiting from violent conflict and lucrative minerals will continue to enrich warlords in Congo.
There is no doubt that some form of a national dialogue will be a key ingredient to a comprehensive peace in Sudan. But, to have a transformative effect on governance, that process needs to be meaningful, genuine, and inclusive. Despite hopeful signals in September 2014, Sudan’s nascent national dialogue process is currently none of those things. As it stands right now, the dialogue’s format remains imbalanced, exclusive and restrictive. Beyond problems with the structure of the process, the Sudanese government’s actions outside of the dialogue forum have further undermined prospects for genuine discourse about the way forward. But, this could change, if the Sudanese government decides to engage meaningfully and demonstrates its commitment by fulfilling six preconditions, including an alternate neutral administration for the dialogue. International stakeholders now have an opportunity to help to rebalance power dynamics and revitalize the much-needed but deeply compromised process.
By Akshaya Kumar and John Prendergast | Dec 17, 2014
For the third year running, the Enough Project is publishing a needs assessment conducted by anonymous researchers with access to rebel-held parts of Sudan’s South Kordofan state. An independent humanitarian expert has endorsed the methodology of the study, “Life Under Siege” which paints a holistic picture of a place where internationals are not given permission to enter.
Our policy analyst Akshaya Kumar argues that the desperate situation of the people in rebel-controlled areas, the Sudanese government’s aid blockade, and indiscriminate attacks on civilians, along with statements recently attributed to senior commanders in the government forces, lay the foundation for a case of crimes against humanity by extermination.
This resource page is designed to provide an update on the efforts to end the conflict minerals trade that finances numerous brutal armed groups in eastern Congo, note remaining challenges, and suggest strategies for encouraging lasting peace. Read More »
Cooperative efforts by student activists like Roxanne Rahnama and socially-conscious companies like Intel indicate a sustained and growing interest in the conflict-free movement and exemplify its cross-cutting nature. Read More »
On September 24th, the Canadian House of Commons will hold a Second Reading vote on Bill C-486: The Conflict Minerals Act. Bills like C-486, Provision 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act in the U.S., and legislation proposed by the Eurpoean Union indicate the growing global movement dedicated to eliminating the flow of conflict minerals. In addition to these positive steps, Canada, along with other important donor governments, must also step up their support for mining reform efforts and livelihood projects in Congo. Read More »
Approximately 94,000 people are displaced and sheltering in U.N. bases throughout South Sudan as a result of ongoing conflict. In the midst of dire conditions and grave humanitarian needs, the agencies at one Protection of Civilians site in Tong Ping, Juba have found a simple yet highly effective approach to meeting the information needs of internally displaced persons– broadcasting news from roving “boda boda” motorbikes. Read More »
In a web of complex global supply chains, few consumers can say that they share personal relationships with the artisans who craft their clothing and accessories. Mamafrica Designs - an organization based in Bukavu, South Kivu - seeks to provide that connection, while creating a community of beauty, strenght, and resiliance for women in eastern Congo. Read More »