Advocacy groups, the United Nations and academic researchers...agree that the mines fund rebel groups, homegrown militias and rogue elements of the Congolese army.The AP's Peter Svensson has a nice piece covering the issues surrounding the conflict minerals legislation. (Full disclosure/shameless self-promotion: I'm quoted in the article, as are Sara Geenan and Nick Garrett, two experts on the Congolese mineral trade whose views you should take far more seriously than mine.)
But the academics say the advocacy groups have been overselling the link between the mines and violence, such as when John Prendergast, the co-founder of the Enough Project, told "60 Minutes" last year that minerals are the "root cause" of the fighting.
Although I've been writing about this issue for at least a year, I'm not sure I've been very clear on some of the context in which this debate happens, and in which the mineral trade in the eastern DRC occurs. For example, I talk a lot about land and citizenship rights being key drivers of the conflict, but I'm not sure we've ever really discussed what that means in historical context. Issues relating to refugee return are another huge issue in the Kivus, as is the nature of violence in region. In discussing these issues, I'm hoping we'll also be able to get some traction as to why the "resource war" narrative came to dominate the discourse when every serious scholar of the region disputes that claim.
So this week, I'm going to take a few days to try to provide some context. The topics listed above will be first up, starting tomorrow. But what am I leaving out? What else would you like to know about the eastern DRC, the mineral trade, or the advocacy movement? I won't know the answers to every question, but together we can find someone who will.