While advocacy groups have made conflict minerals a centerpiece of their campaign to stop human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a recent open letter by a group of 70 policy experts from around the world questions the benefits of the focus on conflict minerals.
According to the experts, “the conflict minerals campaign fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between minerals and conflict in the eastern DRC.” In contrast to what advocacy groups imply, the academic consensus is that mining is neither the cause of conflict in the Congo nor necessary to keep the fighting going. Conflict minerals contribute to the violence, but they’re also vital to the Congolese people’s survival. The result, according to the letter, is that the ore trade “holds as much potential to help steer the region away from conflict as it does to contribute towards it.”
In recent years, activists believing that removing conflict minerals trade will stop the bloodshed by denying revenue to those perpetrating violence, have succeeded in pushing for language in the U.S. Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations published recommendations aimed at cutting off the Congo’s ore trade, and now guidelines under consideration by the European Union.
IPC continues to voice concerns about the cost and unintended results of conflict minerals legislation, both in the United States and European Union. In May 2012, IPC Board Chairman Steve Puddles testified before the U.S House of Representatives regarding, “The Costs and Consequences of Dodd-Frank Section 1502.”