"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


What's Wrong with Dodd-Frank 1502?

I have a new working paper up at the Center for Global Development. It's entitled, "What's Wrong with Dodd-Frank 1502? Conflict Minerals, Civilian Livelihoods, and the Unintended Consequences of Western Advocacy." You can read the paper here.

The central argument of the paper is that Dodd-Frank 1502, while based in well-intentioned efforts to improve the situation in the Congo, has caused more problems that it has solved, and is unlikely to improve the security situation in eastern Congo when the SEC rules are released and implemented. This is because there is no evidence that supply chain traceability mechanisms actually get fighters to stop fighting, particularly in a very weak state. Moreover, as we are already seeing, smuggling tends to increase and civilian miners are put out of work. In the paper, I delve into an analysis of why the advocacy community chose to focus on conflict minerals and why that focus was misguided. I also suggest steps for a way forward that would both help to improve transparency in the mineral trade while arguing that violence is a separate problem with a separate solution.

I welcome your comments and questions on the paper. Thanks to the folks at the Center for Global Development for publishing it. All errors are, of course, my own.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

When will the forthcoming Severine Autessere paper that you cite numerous times be released?

Monday, January 09, 2012 4:05:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

I believe it will be out in February. It's in a forthcoming issue of African Affairs.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012 6:53:00 PM

Blogger Jacob A. Geller said...

Hi Laura,

So glad to have read your paper. Thanks so much for writing it.

IMHO, security sector reform in Congo is a really, really important issue, and weirdly under-discussed. For some reason people just like to argue over the minerals trade -- whether cleaning it up will lead to peace and good governance or not, how best to reform the industry, and on and on and on about minerals, minerals, minerals... (Marsha Marsha Marsha!).

In other words, people prefer to argue over the "laptops --> rape" story more than the "?!#%@ --> conflict and corruption" story (or stories). Perhaps because the latter is just too complicated, or maybe boring.

Maybe I'm overstating the point -- as you write in your paper, the advocacy community has recently begun to devote more attention to security sector reform -- but if I'm over-stating the point, it's only in compensation.

I look at the lavish attention policymakers, advocates, and commentators devote to the conflict minerals issue, and I see a fetish over the means to an end (or rather two ends), not a determined focus on the end itself (that is, peace and good governance). If only there were some way to make security sector reform (and related issues like delivering immediate assistance to affected communities) as sexy (horrible pun not intended) as the "rape in your pocket" story... any ideas?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 12:55:00 AM

Blogger Jacob A. Geller said...

PS - I'm thinking about sponsoring half a child through Makarios, but I'm a starving grad student and need some good evidence before donating my precious dollars. I'd search your site for such evidence, but you don't have a search bar!

Any particular reason why you chose to list Makarios on your ways to help?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 1:06:00 AM

Blogger blaise said...

@ TIA,
I flipped over your paper and found it very instructive.
I believe that most of your recommendations, particularly the fifth one won't found traction among donors and Congolese's politic leadership.
You know as well that Kabila jr is weak as a commander in chief, he doesn't have the power or even the will to reform the army, specially at the East.
I always believe that his father prime mistake was to dismantle the FAZ, I think Machiavelli was strongly against such move. The result of this actions and the system of patronage that follow created a situation where the bulk of junior officers that served under Mobutu are out of the army. Those who stayed and are nor swahiliphone live in fear to be poisoned or assassinate. Hence, we have all those seasonal commanders who have little or no idea how an army should be run.
You want them to reform the security? That's a tall order. In contrast with Rwanda, there is no incitement for Kabila to have a professional army, he is too scare of a coup, he knows that he is not a legitimate commander in chief.

Monday, January 23, 2012 6:39:00 AM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Blaise, thanks for your comment. I think you're right that security sector reform won't happen within the FARDC itself. I certainly didn't meant to imply that; reforming the FARDC should and will have to be an international effort. And, as you note, the leadership issue is possibly the most problematic among them all.

Jacob, sorry for the delay in replying. Makarios was started by someone I know, and they have a business model that supports a lot of their operations through coffee sales, which I think is better than relying entirely on donations. They do good work, but I would email Sharla (the director) for their program evaluations and such to see if you think they're using resources well.

Monday, January 23, 2012 9:48:00 AM

Blogger blaise said...

thank you, that's a great blog you have here. I have some questions you may help with :
- is there a data base where someone is "keeping score" of all the atrocities that are going on in DRC?( perpetrators, victims,etc)?
- does the UN have a " blueprint" for development in DRC? I remember that around 1999 and 2000 the Pnud published several syllabus dedicated to each province agriculture. I wonder if such documents are online and what have been done since.

My thinking by asking those questions is as follow:
We should identify every single perpetrator of those suffering and track their movements, make their life difficult.
For the blueprint, I believe there is no hope left we the politicians, Kabila and his cronies are just there for the money, Tshisekedi is predictable(as far as rejecting everything is concern,lol).
Maybe the UN should draft a development plan that other actors such NGO, churches, civil society can implement. Just an idea. Nobody really talk about local businesses: they have interest in a peaceful society as well and they have capital. Maybe something worth to explore.

Monday, January 23, 2012 1:21:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Hi, Blaise,

I don't know of a comprehensive list of victims; it would be extremely difficult to compile as the number of victims is in the hundreds of thousands if not millions. The 2010 UN Mapping Report on atrocities committed during the war is probably the most comprehensive list that exists, but obviously that misses everything that's happened since. There are tens of thousands of perpetrators, which makes the idea of following them around unfeasible. This is one of the reasons that approaches to justice in DRC have tended to focus on the leaders, much as the Nuremburg trials held only Nazi leadership responsible.

I'm not sure whether the UN has a current blueprint for development in DRC. These days, poverty reduction strategies are typically developed by governments on their own (or with technical support). As basic security is still a major issue in Congo, it's hard to envision a comprehensive and feasible plan that would actually work.

I agree that some strategic planning would do DRC a lot of good.

Friday, January 27, 2012 8:12:00 PM

Blogger blaise said...

Hi Laura,
you absolutely right about the trial and I wasn't fancying a massive trial although a case by case scenario is possible in local courts IF justice is functional.
In another hand, the international court appear to be somehow bias by it's treatment of alleged crimes and a lot of people believe the crime is somehow politically motivate in his way of taking cases. Like the Nuremberg process, it seems to be " vae victis" here. Nazis were awful but the red army brought another kind of evil in their advance to Berlin. Nobody in my knowledge ever been tried for the MV Wilhelm Gustloff sinking.
In the same spirit, the international court never tried anybody for those crime for Makobola, kisangani or CNDP/FARDC advance. Ituri is nothing compare to what happened and continuing to happen in the Kivus.
Not trying to take lightly the death of 200,000 people in Rwanda, I'm convince that the genocide story should be rewriting.For several reasons:
- The RCD/ CNDP modus operandi and mass killings always struck me as similar to what happened in Rwanda. Same perpetrators?
- I don't see any african army, specially a mono-ethnic one stay idle when their people are killed. If the well trained american army can fired indiscriminately on civilians in Iraq to we believe that a rebellion will be so well disciplined that to do nothing when they know their people are killed?
- why Carla del ponte investigations on RPF seems to have stopped?
- Everybody living in Africa knows that even a well trained army are into conquest and destruction
The point I'm trying to make is that the RPF and his satellites in Congo seems to have a free ride as far as human violation is concerned.
As far as for a data base, the millions who died were not all by guns. I wonder if there was a possibility to put a face for each victims, a user generate " wikipedia like" website were anybody can tell his story and human rights organisations can keep a score of those commanders whose names will keep coming back.

Saturday, January 28, 2012 1:12:00 PM

Blogger blaise said...

I agree that basic security is an issue in Congo and the government, starting by the president and his prime minister, is more interested in making money for themselves.
But in another hand, some parts of Congo are relatively peaceful. Maybe those experts should draft strategies and make it available to the public, letting anybody who have the mean to make an impact.
How it may work?
- have an inventory of every provinces assets ( the FAO or PNUD) did something similar around 2000
- identify needs
- determine weaknesses and pitfalls
- draft some business models possible ( small and big)
- etc
Sorry, I'm just a dreamer but I bet some local entrepreneurs can be inspired to look at their business model and expand or look differently into their models.

Maybe the technical support should be offer to local entrepreneurs instead of the state, a " mentor" assistance for example. There is a lot of retired people in the west who can mentor struggling entrepreneurs in a part time basis, I bet.

Saturday, January 28, 2012 1:30:00 PM

Anonymous redneckinkenya said...

Hi Laura
do you think the kind of violence that is seen in Congo will ever happen in Kenya - I know there has been some - like after the 2007 elections but nothing like we have seen in other African countries. I worry....not for myself, for the country and people spent nine months there in 2009 and going back in March ...every day is a struggle for most it seems

Monday, January 30, 2012 1:54:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

I don't. Kenya has much stronger governing institutions than does DRC. It also has a growing middle class that will not tolerate a civil war. However, i am very concerned about the future growth and consolidation of Kenya's democracy, as well as its regional security.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012 9:02:00 AM


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