War for Minerals

Conflict Minerals on Capitol Hill 1

Nicholas Kristof offers a good column about the much-neglected unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in the Congo. Sometimes the current round of fighting (the “Kivu Conflict”) is demarcated as separate from the earlier round (“Second Congolese War”) but over the past 15 years more people have died in this business than anything else.

He calls it “a pointless war — now a dozen years old — driven by warlords, greed for minerals, ethnic tensions and complete impunity.” But it’s not really unusual for a war to be pointless in this sense. The point is that, as he says, it’s driven by greed for minerals. The minerals provide funds that allow the fighting to continue, and it’s desire for control over the minerals that motivates the fighting.

CAP’s Enough Campaign has been working on a variety of initiatives to help address the links between electronics in western stores in brutal violence in Congo. The Conflict Minerals Trade Act would be a start.