A watchdog group says any
efforts to bring peace to the eastern DRC must address the "plundering" of
natural resources by armed groups. Global Witness says as long as there are
buyers willing to trade for tin ore (cassiterite), gold and coltan, there's no
incentive for armed groups to stop fighting.
Tertsakian, Global Witness's lead campaigner on the DRC, spoke from London to
VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about why the mineral trade
must be addressed.
issue of the resource plunder has been at the heart of this conflict since it
first broke out more than 20 years ago now. It has been one of the main
factors…that has been motivating the various warring parties. So, all the main
armed groups involved in this conflict, as well as the government and the
national army, have…been scrambling for the minerals in eastern Congo and have
been getting rich with impunity. And none of the international (or) regional
peace efforts so far have addressed this question," she says.
a result, she says the "looting" of these resources continue to be used to
finance the fighting. Tertsakian says that there are a number of ways the issue
can be introduced into the peace process.
the first instance, Global Witness is calling on the various foreign
governments (and) international mediators involved in trying to bring peace to
start addressing this issue explicitly. In other words, in the context of the
peace talks…about the economic agendas of the different parties and to try to
find measures to stop the illicit exploitation of the minerals in this area,"
says that the "economic actors" must also be addressed.
"Obviously, if these armed groups are trading
in minerals that there are people willing to buy them. So, we're appealing to
the buyers at every level of the supply chain, that is, from the level of the
mine through to the manufacturing and retail companies, to start asking
questions about where these minerals are coming from, precisely, whose hands
are they passing through. And if there's any likelihood that they are
benefiting these armed groups, or army units operating illegally, then simply
to refuse to buy them," she says.
says that the illegal mining of minerals differs somewhat from that of
"conflict" or "blood" diamonds.
would say maybe it's not quite as clear cut as that. In eastern Congo…there's a
multiplicity of different armed groups and different actors involved. There are
different armed groups controlling different territory and there's also the
army itself that is busy plundering these resources. But then there are also
other areas where civilians are doing the mining. So, it is not quite as simple
as saying…all minerals that come from Congo are tainted," she says.
In September, Global Witness issued a
report, which it said documented the illegal mineral trade being conducted by
armed groups, as well as some members of the national army. Tertsakian says
that while the government said it would investigate, it also denied any of its
personnel were involved.