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The Democratic Republic of Congo has suffered from a variety of disasters over the past century, but a common thread has been the tendency of outsiders to define the country on their own terms and act accordingly. The current campaign against conflict minerals and mass violence is only the latest example of this tendency. King Leopold II claimed to be bringing civilization and combating the Arab slave trade, as he seized Congo s wealth and massacred its population. In the 1960s, the US attempted to shape events in newly independent Congo, so that the country and its minerals would remain out of the hands of the Soviet Union. There are echoes of that struggle in the present era, with concern over China s increasing presence. In the 1990s, political scientists, journalists and other experts proclaimed Congo to be a collapsed state, a condition that could justify foreign intervention and even partition.1 The political vacuum in eastern DRC supposedly had drawn in its neighbors, as though the rulers of those states had not decided to invade the country for their own reasons. The World Bank has promoted the idea that the conflicts in DR Congo since the mid 1990s are civil wars, ignoring invasions by Rwanda, Uganda and others. Starting from this oversimplification, Paul Collier and others have attempted to explain the causes, e.g. greed vs. grievance. 2 At the same time, some on the left have attempted to interpret events in the Great Lakes in terms of "imperialism",


Marina Ottaway, Jeffrey Herbst, and Greg Mills. Africa's Big States: Toward a New Realism. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Policy Outlook, February 2004; Thomas M. Callaghy, From Reshaping to Resizing a Failing State? The Case of the Congo/Zaire, in Right-sizing the state: the politics of moving borders. Brendan O'Leary, Ian Lustick, and Thomas M. Callaghy, eds. Oxford University Press, 2001; Herman J. Cohen, Can Africa Trade Its Way to Peace? The New York Times, December 15, 2008. 2 Paul Collier and Anke Hoeffler. Greed and grievance in civil war. Oxford economic papers, 2004, vol. 56, Issue 4, pp. 563-595.

org/bill/111-h4173/text. neither of these approaches provides much insight into events on the ground. The killings and sexual violence certainly are unacceptable. After asking the Securities and Exchange Commission to set up a system for certification of conflict-free electronics products. DR Congo is Rape Capital of the World. See http://www. NY and Lampeter. Conflict Minerals. it requires the Comptroller General to submit a report on the rate of sexual violence in the eastern Congo and adjoining countries.st. Human costs of war declining: study. 2010. Simon Fraser University. 1999. http://news.4 However. Bukavu: International Rescue Committee. <www. Lewiston. imposed by outsiders. Genocide and Covert Operations in Africa 1993-1999.2 according to which regional actors including Rwanda and Uganda were mere puppets of the United States. concerns conflict minerals and mass killing and sexual violence. January 21. The latest such oversimplification. The "Conflict Minerals Trade Act" (signed into law as part of the Dodd-Frank law on financial reform) endorses the notion of a strong link between conflict minerals and sexual violence. backers of the campaign against "conflict minerals" from the Democratic Republic of Congo are likely to be disappointed when the measures to eliminate such minerals from products sold in the US do not substantially reduce the mass killings and mass rapes still prevalent in eastern DRC (not to mention the sexual violence in adjoining countries). and asking the Secretary of State to produce a map of mines under the control of armed groups . and it would put an end to the "war Wayne Madsen. Results from Five Mortality Surveys in Eastern DRC by the International Rescue Committee.com> 4 4. L. and that the country is the rape capital of the world . with no interests of their own. Mortality in Eastern DRC.bbc.uk/2/hi/8650112. 5 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.mellenpress. 2010/4/28. but these labels are hyperbolic. we are told also that there is a magic bullet that can put an end to the atrocities and that is banning conflict minerals . Wales. Various experts and activists have decided that the Congo war is the bloodiest since World War Two. Implementation of the Dodd-Frank measures supposedly would put an end to fighting that has killed 5 or 6 million people. Human Security Report group. Section 1502. Roberts. 3 . 5 In my opinion.opencongress.co.3 Since the Great Lakes wars were neither civil wars nor interstate wars but a complex blend of the two. UK: Edwin Mellen Press. BBC. 2000.

civilians commit rape. Conflict Research Group. but against women from the supposed enemy group. Such cases are incomprehensible if one views rape as violent sexual activity. However. however. Governing the Maquis : A Case Study of General Padiri s Maï-Maï Movement.7 Rape is customarily seen in terms of male perpetrators and female victims and the vast majority of cases in eastern DRC (and elsewhere) conform to that view. Both the slogans rape as a weapon of war and war against women capture aspects of the same ongoing conflict.. In many instances. Likewise.g.3 against women. In such situations. The International Rescue Committee s own data make it clear that the mortality rate is even higher in abandoned areas such as Gandajika (East Kasai) than it is in North or South Kivu. There may be some selective reporting. The high level of excess deaths in DRC is due in large part to the collapse of social services that began under Mobutu.6 Ending the fighting would be beneficial but would not restore rural health services. Armed factions use rape as a weapon or tactic against civilians associated with another. September 2006. viewed as a sexual form of political 6 7 International Rescue Committee Kasper Hoffmann. working paper 6. NGOs concerned with the rights of women seem to have looked past these cases. i. supposedly enemy group (or maybe just a group that the armed faction wishes to terrorize. although additional ideological justification often was available e. even armed groups not involved in the minerals trade commit rape. . in that the United Nations does not always take note of the rape of males.e. there seem to have been a significant number of female perpetrators. while the majority of cases involve male perpetrators. which are not helpful to their argument. Each attack can be justified by an earlier attack by the opposing group. the supposed Ugandan-Rwandan plan to establish a Tutsi-Hima Empire in the Great Lakes. War against Women or Rape as a Weapon? Rape has been used as a weapon in eastern DRC. the war is not a war against women in general. for purposes that include access to land. where humanitarians from abroad have concentrated their efforts." Both claims are misleading. and forced labor). University of Ghent. ethnic cleansing.

the importance of various "conflict minerals" has shifted over the years.ca/ejournal/hooks.org/story/090527/rapes-soar-in-eastern-congos-culture-impunity 8 . New York: NYU Press. I said no. sustaining and sustained by the economy of plunder. We-news. tin. such as cell phones and Gameboys.womensenews.synaptic. attention has focused on several mineral exports from these areas: gold. However. Dominique Soquel. bell hooks. a culture whose models of masculinity. femininity and sexuality sustain and rationalize men's violence against women. 1997. http://www. These metals dubbed by Enough the 3 Ts plus Gold used in consumer electronics. Real knockouts: the physical feminism of women s self-defense.htm. Rwanda and Uganda fought bloody battles for control of Kisangani. as the fighting has persisted in North and South Kivu provinces and in Ituri (Orientale province). tantalum and tungsten. As the Enough Project has shown. i. meaning simply that those who rape (or kill or steal) can do so in the reasonable expectation that they will not be punished. 2011. an important transit point for export of diamonds.e. since culture might let the perpetrators off the hook for what is by and large a political act. DRC suffers from a culture of rape as defined by McCaughey. 2009. the long journey from the mines can be broken down into a six-link supply chain: are Martha McCaughey. Rapes Soar in Eastern Congo's Culture of Impunity. Attempting to explain the concept of rape as a weapon on a radio panel. Downloaded April 22. Sexism and Misogyny: Who Takes the Rap? http://www. In retrospect. Rape on the scale that we are witnessing in DRC could not occur without some kind of cultural support. I wish I had reframed the question. 8 Minerals and Violence: Breaking the Links Amnesty International and other organizations have expressed concern about the role of minerals in provoking and sustaining conflict in eastern DRC since 2000.4 action it is less surprising to see women take part in harming or humiliating a woman from an enemy group. I was asked whether rape in Congo was cultural ." There is also a culture of violence.bc. In recent years. In 2000. May 27. There is also a culture of impunity.

com/2009/0810/p09s02coop. http://www. From Mine to Mobile Phone: The Conflict Minerals Supply Chain. Exporters -. in that the scam or scams seem rather disorganized.enoughproject. girls. where Congolese bring the minerals out of the ground. That is the role attributed to the Congolese state. Much of the gold production comes from small diggings.Origins obscured 5.Minerals enter international markets 4. for example the Canadian gold mining company Banro in South Kivu and Maniema.Looking the other way 3. 2009. where conflict over tin mining was linked to mass rapes of over 300 women.html . "Clinton's Challenge in Congo. than it will be for the international companies. carried out by "artisanal" miners.Minerals to metals 6.A gold rush with guns 2. The US State Department will have to work with other donor governments to help get the DRC to demilitarize the mining zones. for example) have argued that the Congolese state does not exist. August 10. Child labor is particularly associated with armed groups and "artisanal" mining.org/publications/mine-mobile-phone?page=1 10 Jeffrey Herbst and Greg Mills. Transit countries -.Conflict minerals in your phone 9 Breaking the link between sale of conflict minerals and continuing violence will require attention to several steps in the supply chain. The mines -. It will be much more difficult for the small producers to comply with certification procedures. Some (Herbst and Mills. Electronics companies -. One might begin with Walikale Zone in North Kivu. men and boys in 2010. In any case. argues that Congo is a vast." The Christian Science Monitor. 2009. 10 The truth may lie somewhere between the two. 2009. March 18. Armed groups control other mines. in contrast. Nov 10.csmonitor. proposals such as demilitarization of mining zones or certification of minerals at or near the mines 9 Sasha Lezhnev and John Prendergast. Trading houses -. customary chiefs etc. and one therefore should deal with whatever authorities (warlords.5 1. International corporations control some of the mines in these areas. Refiners -.) one finds on the ground. http://www. organized scam. there are several rather different situations. There Is No Congo: Why the only way to help Congo is to stop pretending it exists. Foreign Policy. Pierre Englebert. This proposal and other proposals for action on the ground in eastern DRC have a potentially fatal flaw. At Link 1. Englebert.

2010.globalwitness. in that it has raised the level of awareness in the United States regarding the violent conditions under which some Congolese minerals are extracted. This is not helpful.org/library/hill-belongs-them-need-international-action-congos-conflictminerals-trade 11 .co. Focus on the two ends of the supply-chain (the mines and the Apple Store) means ignoring other. The key link in the supply-chain is refining.uk/go/pr/fr//2/hi/africa/8662680. in simplified fashion. Once ores from eastern DRC are mixed with those from other sources and smelted there will be no way to trace their origin. the link between that Congolese violence and some consumer products that many Americans use. The US State Department must pressure these governments to set up reliable certification systems. and ensure that third-party audits are conducted.11 The conflict minerals campaign has been a success so far.stm. and some in Asia.e. not from mines controlled by armed groups or marketed by such groups. Uganda refinery opens for gold. But as Global Witness has written: Ultimately.bbc. Dodd-Frank demands that end-users demonstrate that their metals from DRC or neighboring states are conflict-free. http://www. It has highlighted. since the ex-CNDP units control many of the mines. The conflict minerals legislation may lead to an effective system of monitoring minerals at or near their source and certifying them to be conflict free i. it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that an effective certification system in the Great Lakes region could take root only after the conflict is already over. December 14.6 raise the question of whether the Congolese authorities are willing and able to do their share. crucial links. Some smelting takes place in neighboring countries (especially Uganda and Rwanda). The Hill Belongs to Them: the need for international action on Congo's conflict minerals trade. http://news. Global Witness. This will be particularly important as regards gold in Uganda and tin in Rwanda. Recently the Congolese government has indicated that ex-CNDP rebel units (loosely) incorporated into the Congolese army are not armed groups in the sense that Dodd-Frank gives to the term. at which point it could play a very valuable role in strengthening BBC News.

This could take years to sort out. Secretary Clinton has replied that no exceptions will be made. Targeting the transit countries or at least those that share borders with DR Congo (and are referred to in the Dodd-Frank law) will be essential. Even if the new rules were promulgated in August (or December) 2011. Citizens United v. In April 2011. 12 The problems of mass killings and sexual violence in eastern DRC are complex and multi-faceted. Federal Election Commission do seem to have given companies rights under the First Amendment. announced that it considered the Dodd-Frank requirement that companies be required to report on their use of possible conflict minerals to be "constitutionally suspect.7 management of the resources concerned but be less relevant as a means of cutting funding to armed groups. Those who were hoping to see the Dodd-Frank mechanism put in place rapidly were disappointed when the SEC announced that it was postponing until at least August 2011 the adoption of new rules governing the trade in so-called "conflict minerals". Given the waivers granted on aid to DRC and other countries using child soldiers. including Rwanda and Tanzania. Certification by mine-operators and by end-users will be more effective together than either would be alone. a pro-business organization hitherto best known for its action on behalf of the tobacco industry. for example. have asked for a year s grace period before the requirement for certification is imposed. one wonders what this assurance is worth.g. In keeping with long-standing practice. but the foundation and its friends clearly have deep pockets. 12 Global Witness." I am not a jurist and cannot evaluate the claim that requiring companies to report on their activities violates their freedom of speech. . Several of these countries. The Hill Belongs to Them. the SEC declined to comment on the timing of its actions. Some recent American court rulings e. there was a danger that their implementation might be further delayed. the Washington Legal Foundation.

bbc.8 The US and other governments should act also on other aspects of the financing of conflict. is awash in small arms.co.uk/news/world-africa-12523847 13 . including Sudan and Chad. Feb. www. Nor should one focus only on sale of minerals. 2011. neglecting the other side of the presumed transaction. if one is concerned about the epidemic of sexual violence in particular. Violence against civilians will not be reduced until the easy available of cheap weapons is checked. The recent conviction of Colonel Kibibi Mutware for mass rapes in Fizi. is a start but only a start. then two other complementary activities are crucial: these are training of Congolese armed forces in protection of civilians. and speedy prosecution of accused offenders. minerals for arms. Finally. The whole Great Lakes region. 21. South Kivu. 13 BBC News. DR Congo colonel Kibibi Mutware jailed for mass rape. Other transfers to the armed groups should be blocked. meaning that they can continue to function if those funds are cut off. It has been estimated that armed groups in DRC derive 20-40% of their funds from conflict minerals.

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