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Homepage > Publication Type > Blogs > Behind the Problem of Conflict Minerals in DR Congo: Governance

Behind the Problem of Conflict Minerals in DR Congo: Governance

Thierry Vircoulon   |  19 Apr 2011

As legislation requiring large U.S. companies to disclose the origins of the minerals they use is meant to come into force this year, Crisis Group sent a mission to North Kivu to assess the different strategies used to fight conflict minerals and their impact in the field.

For many years, it has proved impossible to find a solution to the problem of the illegal exploitation of minerals in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by actors in the conflict. The Kassem Report and others that followed showed that the belligerents partly finance their activities from the sale of gold, wolframite, coltan and cassiterite - minerals very much prized by the electronics industry and valued at around US$60 million per year. Adoption of the Dodd-Frank Act by the U,S, Congress in 2010 resulted in an upsurge of international initiatives to make trade in conflict minerals in the Great Lakes zone transparent and prevent it from financing the warmongers behind the troubles in eastern DRC. 

These new regulatory initiatives have provoked lively reactions locally, embarrassed governments in the region and divided experts. But to what extent do they have the potential to change things? The strategies formulated to combat the illegal exploitation and trade of minerals in the DRC include two major approaches. First, they aim to re-establish legitimate control over the mines. Second, more long-term, they aim to regulate trade to prevent conflict minerals from reaching the international market. These two major approaches complement each other but their limitations show that they must be accompanied by a profound reform in governance.

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