The following has been submitted in the format of an Oral Statement to the 45th session of the UN Human Right’s Council, and was prepared by Next Century Foundation Research Officer, Umer Ahmed.
The international community must tackle mineral trafficking used in part to finance the purchase of weapons used in conflict by armed militias in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Commendably, the Congo government has, over the last decade, increased the regulation of mines operating in the country. These mines extract tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold, all of which are referred to as “conflict minerals” because of their use to finance armed conflict. These minerals are essential to the manufacture of smartphones and thus are a necessity for technology companies. Correct regulation of the sale of these minerals has great potential to aid the development of the DR Congo state.
The Next Century Foundation welcomes the establishment of a transparency platform by the European Union in 2017 to monitor companies exporting minerals from Congo to the European Union. The efforts of the United Nations Mission in the Congo (MONUSCO), under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1493 and UNSCR 1596, in tackling mineral smuggling are also commendable.
However, a significant number of mines remaining in the hands of armed militias have extracted minerals trafficked across the border into the neighbouring states of the Republic of Uganda, the Republic of Rwanda and the Republic of Burundi. From these states, the minerals are then shipped to the People’s Republic of China, where supply chain checks are weak.
The Next Century Foundation calls on the international community to focus on halting the export of conflict minerals from Congo to neighbouring states and for the developed nations of the world to boycott any minerals extracted from these mines. Furthermore, the Next Century Foundation calls on the international community to boycott cellphones manufactured in China until it addresses the lack of action taken on conflict minerals by its companies.