UN on Congo: Dodd-Frank conflict minerals law increases conflict


KPFA Weekend News, 12.31.2011: 

A UN report says that the U.S.A.'s conflict minerals legislation, Section 1502 of the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, is increasing rather than decreasing criminality and conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and that Bosco Ntaganda is now in control of minerals smuggling from the eastern Congolese city of Goma into Rwanda.  Ntaganda is commander of the CNDP militia that fought the Congolese army before being "integrated" into the Congolese army in January 2009. The Wikipedia identifies him as a Rwandan Tutsi and a former member of the Rwandan Patriotic Army, which seized power in Kigali, Rwanda's capital, in 1994.



CNDP militia and Congolese army commander Bosco Ntaganda. The UN reports that Ntaganda now controls minerals smuggling from Goma, in eastern Congo, into Rwanda. KPFA Weekend News Anchor David Rosenberg: An explosive UN report made public this week says that U.S. legislation intended to reduce the lethal conflict over the control of illegal minerals trade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has had the opposite effect, pushing the trade deeper into the hands of militias and international criminal networks described in earlier UN reports. KPFA's Ann Garrison has more.


KPFA/Ann Garrison: The latest Report of the UN Group of Experts Concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo says that  the U.S. law adopted last year requiring the Securities and Exchange Commission to write rules forcing mineral processing companies and manufacturers to prove that minerals they purchase from Congo are "conflict free" has backfired. The resistance of companies and industry groups, has led international trading firms to stop purchasing minerals identified as Congolese, leading to increased smuggling and armed conflict.


The UN experts write that Congolese Army Commander Bosco Ntaganda controls the supply of minerals from the Congolese city of Goma into neighboring Rwanda, which has seen a rise in smuggling in 2011. Ntaganda became commander of the Rwandan and Ugandan backed CNDP militia in January 2009, at the same time that the CNDP was integrated into the Congolese Army which it had, up until that time, been fighting. Ntaganda thus became a commander in the Congolese army, despite being subject to an arrest warrant for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.   

Incumbent President Joseph Kabila, left, and challenger Étienne Tshisekedi, right, both claim to have won Congo's November 2011 presidential election.

The experts' report has been released amidst Congo's post-election political crisis. The Carter Center and European Union observers describe the election as so fraudulent and disorganized that it is impossible to determine who has actually been elected president. More outside observers have been brought in to help tally votes in the parliamentary election, as Human Rights Watch and Friends of the Congo's on the ground observers report the execution and/or abduction of Congolese protesting incumbent President Kabila's claim to have won.  


The Congolese diaspora continue their global protests, from Paris to Perth and many major cities between, and Washington D.C.-based Friends of the Congo has called for a national day of action, including teach-ins, on January 17th. Friends of the Congo has also asked that Congo teach-ins be included in Occupy Wall Street's plan to converge on Washington D.C. and Occupy Congress on the same day. Bodia Macharia of Friends of the Congo's Toronto chapter spoke to KPFA about the urgency of understanding why more than six million Congolese people have died since the Congo Wars began in 1996 and 1998, despite the peace treaty signed in 2003.

University of Toronto Friends of the Congo President Bodia Macharia Bavuidi protests in solidarity with native peoples against mining abuse on their native land in Canada, in Congo, in Papua New Guinea and elsewhere. – Photo: Meagan Moore

Bodia Macharia: As Africans, we have to look at ourselves and say, "Well, this has to change." As Africans. And of course the world has to be with us because when this happened in Auschwitz, people said this will never happen anymore. How come this is happening?  How come it's happening and people are still silent?  And I hope that with what happened yesterday, people will now say "What has been happening in the Congo?" There was an aggression in 1996, an aggression in 1998 and the world is still silent. We have to go look at the root causes of this. What are the root causes? It's not because you put a new person in power, in the Congo, that things will change. That's not what's gonna change. There is a whole huge work to do. A radical change, a radical change. There is a resignation of critical thought, a renunciation of radical interrogation, not only on our own mentality but on the root causes and the signification of this crisis.


KPFA: Barack Obama's 2006 Senate Bill, the Congo Relief, Security and Democracy Promotion Act, will be a focal point of the teach-ins.  The Obama law calls for the U.S. to cut aid to countries plundering Congo's resources but, it has never been implemented.  


For Pacifica, KPFA, and AfrobeatRadio, I'm Ann Garrison.



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