The European Network for Central Africa (EurAC) and conflict minerals campaign network, Fatal Transactions, have joined in making a call to the EU, demanding that it respond to the conflict minerals situation in Democratic Republic of Congo. Many armed groups in the DRC, including the national army, control the exploitation and trade of key minerals and this is generally agreed to complicate efforts towards peace-building and security sector reform in the east of the country.
EURAC and Fatal Transactions are urging the European Union to take action at numerous levels: encouraging EU companies trading in certain minerals to undertake adequate due diligence; support to certification and mapping efforts on the ground in eastern DRC; the reinforcement of Congolese state capacities to administer the mining sector; and support programs aimed at increasing socio-economic benefits from mining at community level.
The call by the two multi-member networks comes after the passing in July 2010 of the Dodd-Frank Act by the US Congress. That legislation made a requirement that US companies must declare where their raw components come from, including regions of conflict. Dodd-Frank does not ban companies from using minerals from conflict or post-conflict zones but hopes instead that consumer pressure will encourage companies to ensure that their products are sourced responsibly.
So far, the EU has no such legislation despite it being over a decade since the UN Security Council first expressed its concerns over the links between mineral exploitation and conflict in the DRC. In the intervening period dozens of reports by the UN Group of Experts and others have documented the role of natural resources in the conflict in eastern DRC. The trade and exploitation of these minerals – cassiterite, wolframite, coltan and gold – not only fuels the conflict in the DRC but is known to extend the trouble beyond the borders and into neighbouring countries.
EURAC and Fatal Transactions are calling for a strong response but are also advocating deep consideration as artisanal mining currently provides a livelihood for millions of Congolese and – if efforts to formalize the sector are successful – offers an important opportunity for the economic development of the region. The goal of EU policy, they claim, must not be an embargo on Congolese minerals, but to create incentives for trade that is legal, formalized and under the control of civilian authorities.
The main points of the report are that the EU should:
- bring in legislation requiring companies to show due diligence in their sourcing. This should be done in consultation with the DRC to reduce negative economic impact.
- adopt OECD guidelines on responsible supply chains and should support the OECD in disseminating these guidelines.
- support certification initiatives being developed within the DRC and wider area.
- pressure MONUSCO to set up Centres de Negoces for the supervised trading of minerals.
- support Congolese efforts to formalise the artisanal mining sector
- support a third party mechanism for the regular mapping of mining sites in eastern DRC and the assessment of due diligence efforts.
- persuade Kinshasa to prioritize the removal of armed elements from the mines in the east.
- appoint a new Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region, part of whose mandate should be to co-ordinate the European response to the conflict minerals issue.
The full report can be found in at: the Fatal Transaction page on the call to Act On Conflict Minerals