Archive for July, 2010
1. The Conflict Minerals narrative leaves the public believing that the source of Congo’s challenge is rebel groups that brutally rape women to control lucrative mines. When in fact the source of Congo’s challenge has been the attempt by the West to weaken this wealthy and strategically important country through wars, invasions, assassinations and propping up of dictators.
2. It wipes out 14 years of crimes committed against the Congolese people in which foreign governments and multinational corporations are complicit and have not been held to account.
3. It says absolutely nothing about mining companies (Banro, AngloGold Ashanti, OM Group, Freeport McMoRan are but a few examples) operating in the Congo that have either been implicated in illegally exploiting Congo’s wealth or involved in odious contracts that do not accrue to the benefit of the Congolese people.
4. It takes none of the prescriptions that have been offered by Congolese women, youth, politicians or business groups over the years into account.
5. It offers no evidence whatsoever that certification and auditing of the extraction of minerals from Eastern Congo will end the conflict.
A few simple questions to Ponder:
1. Rwanda is a top buyer of Congo’s conflict minerals according to Bloomberg News (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?sid=a1p3C4mCsY2o&pid=20601087) and Uganda is building a refinery ostensibly to refine conflict minerals from Congo (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8662680.stm ) but the US has said or done nothing about their allies. The US continues to give both countries aid, military equipment and training. And shockingly Conflict Minerals advocates are silent about a main buyer of conflict tin. Why demonstrations in front of apple store but none in front of the Rwandan Embassy?
2. According to Dow Jones news Rwanda stands to make $200 million in 2010 from Tin, Tantalum & Tungsten, none of which it has large quantities but rather secure these conflict minerals from the Congo. Yet, the conflict minerals advocates are deadly silent. Why?
3. If US allies Rwanda and Uganda triggered the conflict with two invasions 1996 & 1998 and they either have international arrest warrants for their leaders as is the case with Rwanda’s leaders or international ruling against them as is the case with Uganda where the International Court of Justice ruled in 2005 Uganda owes Congo $10 billion in reparations, why is the State Department not saying or doing anything about this? There is law on the US books PL 109 – 456 Sec. 5 (http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s109-2125) calls on US to withhold aid from countries that destabilize the Congo yet no action is being taken.
4. Finally, atrocious crimes have been committed over the last 14 years where an estimated 6 million people have died. The United Nations via four studies (http://www.friendsofthecongo.org/resource-center/reports-a-studies.html) have implicated over 100 companies a number of which is American but yet the State Department Contact Point has refused to act on recommendations from the United Nations. Companies such as AngloGold Ashanti (the largest investor is American John Paulson of Paulson & Co. – http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=ajab_txy3yJM&pos=4) and Banro corporation stand to reap billions from the region of the most vicious violence against Congolese civilian. And the outcry from conflict minerals advocates? NONE!!!
In light of the above facts, conflict minerals efforts appear to be an awkward attempt to cover for US allies and US corporations (See previous Huff Post article by Congolese youths: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kambale-musavuli/conflict-minerals-a-cover_b_391506.html)
What should be done to end the conflict?
1. US should fully implement it’s own law, PL 109-456, especially section 105.
2. US should pressure its allies Rwanda and Uganda to stop the destabilization and looting of the Congo
3. US should hold its corporations accountable, especially its mining companies
4. US should engage in Congo differently by prioritizing diplomatic and political approach over a military approach. Read more about prescriptions http://www.friendsofthecongo.org/resource-center/policy-a-issue-briefs.html