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  • on 23.06.2014
  • at 04:00 PM
  • by Kevin Hind

Eastern DRC: Stop Fixating on Conflict Minerals 0

Goma/Bukavu – In October 2013, after a year-and-a-half-long rebellion in which its forces managed to take control of several major cities and towns in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the M23 rebel group was finally dislodged.

Just a year previously, the militants had stormed Goma, the capital of North Kivu, and enjoyed a string of resounding victories over the Congolese army. In fact, even a few weeks before the rebels were pushed out, they looked well-rooted in their strongholds. But in the end, a well-planned and well-orchestrated attack, combining Congolese soldiers and UN forces, dealt the M23 a virtually fatal blow as they were forced to flee east.

In the aftermath of the group’s demise, analysts continued to try to understand the M23’s motivations as well as the reasons underpinning its eventual downfall. Regarding the rebels’ defeat, many cited the reforms within the Congolese army, the involvement of the UN’s beefed-up Force Intervention Brigade, and Rwanda’s possible withdrawal of support for the rebels.

These factors were broadly agreed upon, but some, such as John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, also pointed to another and more indirect factor. Amongst other things, Prendergast attributed the M23’s collapse on: “a series of actions designed to dry up the international market for so-called conflict minerals, which help fund the armed groups in Congo.”

The idea of ‘conflict minerals’ has gained a lot of traction in recent years and the basic line of argument maintains that eastern Congolese militants have long been supported, if not even motivated, by the presence of tantalum, tin, tungsten (the ‘3Ts’) and gold in the region. Advocates of this viewpoint, therefore, support stronger regulations over minerals, and many contend that the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, a piece of US legislation that requires companies to track and report their use of minerals from the eastern DRC in a bid to ensure that they are not ‘conflict minerals’, has helped to cut off this important lifeline for armed groups.

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By Christoph VogelThink Africa Press 

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