Saturday, August 28, 2010

UN Report On War Crimes in The Congo: Will The Congolese People Finally Get Justice?

The below is a critique of Nick Kristof's blog on the issue:

Click here (PDF) to download UN Report.

The report raises several key questions:
1. Will the Congolese people finally get justice after living through 14 years of the greatest crimes committed against humanity at the dawn of the 21st century?

2. Will those corporations implicated in the illegal looting of Congo's minerals and supporting rebel groups also be called to account? President Clinton's friend Jean-Raymond Boule provided a private jet in exchange for mining concessions to one of the rebel groups that committed atrocities. (See UN Development Programme report -

3. Will the Clinton Administration be held to account for its propping up and support of regimes that perpetuated such heinous crimes? Will Madeleine Albright, Susan Rice, Bill Richardson and members of the Clinton National Security Council be called to account? NY Times reporter Howard French has written extensively on this question:

4. Will the Obama administration FINALLY implement PL 109-456 Democratic Republic of Congo Relief, Security and Democracy Promotion Act hat he sponsored as Senator?
It explicitly calls for the US to hold accountable Congo's neighbors that destabilize the Congo.

5. Will the international dimensions of the crimes committed in the Congo be finally investigated? The United States Congress can take the lead on this by calling a hearing to fully address the roots of the greatest crime committed against humanity in the 21st century.

Finally a few points of correction and clarification:
Mr. Kristof, you mention that the report describes the role of “conflict minerals” in sustaining warfare but the organization you cite has said nothing about the role of US corporations, especially mining companies' direct involvement in fueling the conflict over the past 14 years, in spite of four UN reports documenting the corporate complicity in fueling the conflict in the Congo. In fact, you have never mentioned the names of these companies either. See list of mining and other companies implicated over the past 14 years:

Some of the core elements of this report are not new. Even your paper reported on this in 1997 ( Also other institutions in the international community have been out front on these crimes committed by the Rwandan Patriotic Army. The 2008 Spanish indictment ( of 40 top officials in the Rwandan government is a case in point. President Kagame himself would have been prosecuted if he were not a head of state. The 2005 International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling ( ) against Uganda is another case in point -- Rwanda would have undoubtedly met the same fate as Uganda if they were party to the ICJ and not outside of its jurisdiction like its key sponsor and ally, the United States.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

BLOOD MINERALS:The Criminalization of the Mining Industry in Eastern DRC

The Pole Institute convened representatives from diverse sectors of the Congolese society to share their analysis and prescriptions for addressing the de-criminalization of natural resources so that they can be a benefit to the Congolese people. Below are some excerpts geared towards the International community and the myriad efforts underway to address “conflict minerals.” Click here to download the full report.

Select Excerpts:
In order to rehabilitate and decriminalize the mining industry, which according to [Aloys] Tegera, generates more than two-thirds of the revenue of North Kivu, it is necessary to, in the first place, work towards the re-establishment of the Congolese state. Any efforts by the international community to re-organize and legislate for the Congolese mining industry without taking this fundamental step into account risk failure, “unless, of course, the various lobbies have in mind a Congo without the Congolese, which would clearly be absurd.” Introduction page 3

A glaring lacuna in all these efforts is the lack of involvement of the Congolese people in seeking solutions to problems that face them in their own country, and Johnson argues that unless the Congolese people are brought “back in” all these international efforts will remain, for their originators, an exercise in creating the DRC after their own image. Introduction page 4

[Dominic] Johnson argues that because of this failure to include the Congolese people in crucial debate on ‘their’ issues, the international community has made a serious error of judgment in not recognizing that the situation in the east of the DRC goes beyond just a presumed squabble over minerals and raises fundamental questions of the structuring of state power which have to be taken into account by anyone hoping to work with the Congolese state in order to reform the Congolese mining sector. Introduction page 4

It is imperative that the various people and organizations of good will who are determined to ensure that the minerals of Kivu are ‘clean’ or conflict-free first work towards a definition of the basics necessary for the re-establishment of the Congolese state. Only when this is in place will the control of the mining industry be possible. The various initiatives will not be effective unless this basic condition is met. Aloys Tegera page 11

It is argued that important aspects of the regulatory model now emerging are partly based on an erroneous and outdated analysis of the conflict dynamics in Eastern Congo and that this is likely to weaken its effectiveness on the ground. The error consists in regarding competition around minerals as the main reason for conflicts in Eastern Congo and the establishment of government authority as the main mechanism for ending such competition and thereby the conflicts themselves. Reforms centered around strengthening the rôle of the state in Eastern Congo rather than the people will, we contend, exacerbate conflict instead of ending it, even if they succeed in curbing the excesses deriving from mineral trade. Dominic Johnson page 22

It is therefore perfectly possible, under the certification and due diligence schemes now on the table, to claim to have solved a decades-old conflict about control of a mineral-rich region and the control of the trade of its produce without addressing any of the issues involved, without resolving conflict on the ground and without contributing to peace and
human security in a manner visible to the local population. Dominic Johnson page 43

However, beyond the possibility or even the impossibility of an international intervention to render the minerals of eastern DRC ‘clean’ for use, in other words conflict-free, it is important to emphasize that the criminalization of the mining industry underestimates the fact that more than two-thirds of the revenue of a province like North Kivu depends on mineral exports. Aloys Tegera page 8

Click here to find out more about the Pole Institute.

Also find here prescriptions for addressing Congo’s challenge from select Congolese groups:

Women scholars and activists
Elected officials

Congolese youth

Human Rights

Remember to join us
for Congo Week from October 17 – 23 as ordinary people throughout the globe join in solidarity with the people of the Congo in their quest to fulfill their enormous human and natural potential.