Monday, November 30, 2009


with Lisa J. Shannon of Run for Congo's Women, Brian Sage of the IRC and John Prendergast of the Enough Project

Start: Dec 1 2009 - 4:30PM EST/C/1:30PM PST
End: Dec 1 2009 - 5:30PM EST/C/2:30PM PST

On Sunday November 29, 60 Minutes' "Congo Gold" episode revealed how the mining of gold and other conflict minerals fuels Congo's war, the deadliest in the world.

On Tuesday, December 1 at 4:30 PM EST/1:30 PM PST, dial-in for a special discussion with Enough’s John Prendergast, International Rescue Committee's Brian Sage, and Run for Congo Women’s Lisa Shannon, to get the behind the scenes account of making the episode and an update on the issue.

Date: Tuesday, December 1

Time: 4:30PM EST/1:30 PM PST

Congo's Conflict Minerals Conference ID: 44050208

Toll-free Dial-in: 887-254-9825

International Dial-in: 281-913-8965

60 Minutes Spotlights Gold, Conflict Minerals Fueling Congo's War


Wednesday, November 25, 2009


How Gold Pays For Congo's Deadly War

Come prepared


by Jeffrey Gettleman


Diplomatic double-standards and an international resource grab are stoking one of the worst wars in the world

UN Report Says Congo's Army Aids Rebel Groups

The New York Times reports that the Congolese Army continues to support rebel groups operating in the east.

Read the full story HERE

KHARTOUM, Sudan — A new United Nations report says that the Congolese Army continues to funnel weapons to rebel groups that are smuggling millions of dollars in gold and other minerals out of Congo, helping sustain one of Africa’s bloodiest and most complicated wars.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

New Legislative Action Tackles Congo's Conflict Minerals

by John Prendergast
November 19, 2009

This piece originally appeared on Huffington Post.

The introduction of the Conflict Minerals Trade Act of 2009 in the United States House of Representatives today marks a critical milestone in the ongoing effort to make the use of conflict minerals in our electronics products a thing of the past. The minerals in our cell phones and electronics continue to fuel the brutal conflict in eastern Congo, the world's deadliest war since World War II. More than five million people have died and an epidemic of rape has made Congo the most dangerous place in the world to be a woman or a girl.

If passed, this bill would institute a system of audits and regulations that would prohibit companies from importing conflict minerals into the United States, thereby providing a critical piece of the puzzle to help stop the deadly trade in Congo's conflict minerals. Specifically, the bill targets the trade in gold and the 3 T's (tin, tungsten and tantalum) -- all essential components of our favorite electronic devices. By requiring companies which process and import these minerals to declare whether their products are conflict-free or not, the bill demands transparency and helps ensure that the mineral trade stops contributing to crimes against humanity, including killings of unarmed civilians and horrific sexual violence. Importantly, the bill also establishes mechanisms to allow the Congolese people to benefit from these resources. In the long-term, the bill would direct the United States government to develop a comprehensive strategy toward conflict minerals and support multilateral efforts to break this deadly trade.

The legislative battle is just beginning. The electronics industry has spent about 2 million dollars per month lobbying to relax similar, yet weaker, legislation in the Senate (S. 891). As consumers of electronics, we must take action to ensure passage of this bill by contacting our representatives and demanding that they sign on as co-sponsors. Together we can help turn a system of exploitation and violence into one of peace and opportunity.

Legislation alone will not end the conflict in eastern Congo, but this bill provides a crucial step toward the creation of a practical and enforceable means to ensure that the trade in Congolese minerals contributes to peace rather than war.

I invite you to comment on this post and follow me on Twitter (@JP4Enough)

US Congress tackles conflict minerals

Friday, November 20, 2009

Yesterday, the US congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA) unveiled legislation he will introduce in the U.S. House of Representatives today to help stop trade in conflict minerals in the Congo. His initiative was applauded by many advocacy groups, including the Enough Campaign, Human Rights' Watch and Global Witness.

This is good news indeed. Now we have three initiatives in the US government aimed at quelling the trade in conflict minerals in the Congo. In addition to this initiative, there is the Congo Minerals Act that Senators Brownback (R-KS), Duck Durbin (D-IL) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) introduced to the upper house in April 2009, as well as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act signed into law in October 2009 requiring the State and Defense Departments to work together to create a map of mining areas and zones occupied by armed groups in the eastern Congo.

This is unprecedented. Previously, the furthest the US Congress has gone is to issue resolutions condemning violence, supporting peace processes and holding hearings. The European Union is watching closely, and advocates in France are considering following suit with pressure on the French parliament. It's nice to see the US taking the lead on this.

But what do these acts actually call for? Here are the most important items in the House bill:

* definition by commerce secretary of what constitutes a conflict mineral good, the tasking of regular audits of mineral processing facilities in the US
* create a conflict minerals map
* support for further investigations by the UN Group of Experts;
* mapping of which armed groups control key mines in eastern Congo;
* inclusion of information on the negative impact of mineral exploitation and trade on human rights in Congo in the annual human rights reports;
* GAO review to evaluate adherence and effectiveness of policies

The Senate bill is similar, requiring amongst other things that "companies that are involved in commercial activities involving three minerals (coltan, cassiterite, and wolframite) to disclose the country of origin of the minerals to the Securities and Exchange Commission. If the minerals are from DRC or neighboring countries, companies would have to also disclose the mine of origin."

The main flaw in this legislation, as I have argued before, (I tend to be repetitious) is that it relies on being able to discern what a conflict mineral is. Otherwise the mining companies in the US will just throw their hands up and claim not to know where the minerals are from. This is currently what mining traders in Goma and Bukavu do - they just say: "All we know is that it comes from the interior, we have no idea where it is from." They are often lying, but it is sometimes difficult to prove them wrong - with the UN Group of Experts, we had to retrace the supply chain, sifting through stacks of Congolese documents (which are sometimes unreliable) and get testimony from mining industry insiders.

One idea is to start this kind of certification in several pilot projects and then trying to spread out from there. There is currently an effort being launched by MONUC, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Canadian government to establish "centres de negoce" (trading centers) in five places in North and South Kivu (Mubi, Rubaya, Hombo, Baraka and Kamituga) where international officials would support the Congolese government and police to begin inspecting shipments and certifying their origin. Congolese revenue agents would also be present to levy taxes.

Even here, though, none of the centers would be established at the mines themselves. In the case of Mubi, potentially the biggest center, miners would have to shlep minerals 50 kilometers from the Bisie mine, the biggest tin mine in North Kivu. On the way, minerals from areas controlled by armed groups could be infiltrated into the supply chain; by the time the certifying agents in Mubi look at the bags full of tin, they will have a hard time knowing if it is conflict minerals or not.

We could try certifying at the mines themselves, starting with a dozen or so of the biggest mines. This would require sending reliable agents and people to protect them to these sites, not an easy task as some of the biggest mines are over a day walk from the closest road or airstrip (like Bisie, a 16 hour slog through the jungle from mine to airstrip). This would also face stiff opposition from traders, as it would reduce tin exports by significant amounts, as even "legitimate" mining sites (i.e. those occupied by the Congolese army) would be barred. But this could be a start and something for donors to commission studies to see which sites would be most appropriate.

In the meantime, a quick way of of imposing some accountability in the sector is to take the approach that Global Witness and the UN Group of Experts already have: by investigating the traders and finding out who is knowingly dealing in minerals from rebel-controlled areas. I call this the policing option and recommend setting it up as an official third-party monitor, recognized by the Congolese government with a clear agreement on what illegal activity means, what prerogatives they have under Congolese law and what the sanctions would be violations.

Hence, I think the US legislators' initiatives are laudable, but have a somewhat backwards approach - we should first try to institute mechanisms of accountability at the local level, then at the international level. Of course, the two approaches reinforce each other, and I understand some US-based electronics companies may even be willing to fund such local institutions in the Congo.

Jason Stearns - Congo Siasa

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Panel Discussion and Reception with Chouchou Namegabe Nabintu

Hi all,

Great event tomorrow (Wednesday) night -- a panel discussion and reception featuring Congolese journalist and activist Chouchou Namegabe Nabintu, President of the Women’s Media Association for South Kivu/AFEM. The flyer for the event is attached as a PDF file (it says Thursday, but it really is Wednesday) and following are the details:

Panel Discussion and Reception with Chouchou Namegabe Nabintu
6:00pm • Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The Thomas E. Golden, Jr. Center, St Thomas More
268 Park Street, New Haven, CT

If you can't make the evening event, Ms. Namegabe will also be hosting a brown bag lunch discussion from 12-1pm on Wednesday in Rosenkranz Hall, Room 241.

Aside from the events, please check out the Congo/Women photo exhibit currently being displayed (until Thursday) at the Thomas Golden Moore Center (the Catholic Center at Yale), 268 Park Street. The exhibit was featured in the New Haven Register this weekend:

All good things,

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Carroll Bogert, Associate Director, Human Rights Watch,
Leslie Thomas, Curator and Co-Director Congo/Women;
Executive and Creative Director Art Works Projects,
Jocelyn Kelly, Research Coordinator, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

Thursday, November 12, 2009


by Sachnev Lezhnev and John Prendergast
Enough experts lead you down the path of the 3Ts—tin, tantalum, tungsten—and gold from the mines of Eastern Congo all the way to your cell phone.

RUINED Captivates D.C. Crowd

From The Enough Project:
Posted by Laura Heaton on Nov 12, 2009

We were thrilled to welcome the cast of RUINED, the Pulitzer prize-winning drama, to Washington for a staged reading on Monday night. Eager to get the real-life message of the play out to an audience of D.C. influentials, the cast donated their performance, which they delivered to a packed house at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater.

The play, set in a mining town in eastern Congo circa present day, tells the story of Mama Nadi, a brothel owner who acts as both a protector and exploiter of women as she tries, with increasing difficulty, to keep the war at bay. The play also highlights the scramble for Congo’s minerals that is perpetuating the violence.

Award-winning playwright Lynn Nottage crafted the play’s leading women characters– portrayed stunningly by Portia (Mama Nadi), Condola Rashad (Sophie), Quincy Tyler Bernstine (Salima), and Chrise Boothe (Josephine) – based on her conversations with Congolese women and survivors living in refugee camps in Uganda. Nottage’s exposure to these first-hand testimonies gives RUINED a strong grounding in the realities of the war that continues to plague eastern Congo, in which women bear the brunt of the violence.

The event closed with a brief discussion between playwright Lynn Nottage, renowned journalist Chouchou Namegabe (who will receive the Knight International Journalism Award tonight), and Enough co-founder John Prendergast, who emphasized the role that each of us – as consumers of conflict minerals – can play in helping to end the violence.

We owe a special thank you to Lynn Nottage and Kate Whoriskey, the play’s director, and to the cast and musicians who traveled from as far away as California to take part in Monday’s performance. The Kennedy Center’s Alicia Adams and Erik Wallin and the Center for American Progress’ Marlene Vasilic were early supporters of our effort to bring RUINED to D.C. and generously worked to open the Kennedy Center’s doors to this important event.

Finally, thank you to those of you who turned out on Monday night and were part of a very engaged audience. Please stay tuned – there is much work we can do in the coming months to get the word out about the atrocities occurring in eastern Congo and ensure that our elected officials get involved in ending the trade in conflict minerals that is helping to fuel violence against Congo’s women.

Based on the outpouring of interest in this event it’s clear that D.C. presents the ideal audience for RUINED. We’re hopeful that the staged reading will lead to a full production in Washington that can reach many more people and generate even more advocacy around its crucial theme.

Photos: (left to right) Enough's John Prendergast greets Ambassador from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Dr. Faida Mitifu; actors perform staged reading of RUINED; Prendergast with journalist Chouchou Namegabe and playwright Lynn Nottage. (Cred
it: D

Friday, November 6, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

UN Peacekeeping Force Knowingly Supports Abusive Military Operations
Source: Human Rights Watch
November 2, 2009

Some Congolese army soldiers are committing war crimes by viciously targeting the very people they should be protecting. MONUC's continued willingness to provide support for such abusive military operations implicates them in violations of the laws of war.

Anneke Van Woudenberg, senior researcher

(New York) - Congolese armed forces in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have brutally killed hundreds of civilians and committed widespread rape in the past three months in a military operation backed by the United Nations, Human Rights Watch said today.

Human Rights Watch called on the UN peacekeeping force in Congo, MONUC, to immediately suspend its support to the military operation or risk being implicated in further atrocities.

In two fact-finding missions in eastern Congo in October 2009, Human Rights Watch documented the deliberate killing by Congolese soldiers of at least 270 civilians between the towns of Nyabiondo and Pinga in a remote part of North Kivu province since March. Many of them had been killed during two massacres in August at Mashango and Ndoruma villages. Most of the victims were women, children, and the elderly. Some were decapitated. Others were chopped to death by machete, beaten to death with clubs, or shot as they tried to flee.

"Some Congolese army soldiers are committing war crimes by viciously targeting the very people they should be protecting," said Anneke Van Woudenberg, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. "MONUC's continued willingness to provide support for such abusive military operations implicates them in violations of the laws of war."

The UN peacekeeping mission, MONUC is a partner with the Congolese army in operation Kimia II, which began on March 2. The aim is to disarm by force the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Rwandan Hutu militia group, some of whose leaders participated in the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. MONUC provides substantial operational and logistics support to the soldiers, including military firepower, transport, rations, and fuel.

One of the massacres occurred in early August at Mashango hill, 15 kilometers from Nyabiondo, where UN peacekeepers have a base. According to witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch, at least 81 civilians were killed when Congolese army soldiers attacked five hamlets within a few kilometers of one another, only one of which contained rebel combatants. The attacking Congolese soldiers made no distinction between combatants and civilians, shooting many at close range or chopping their victims to death with machetes.

In one of the hamlets, Katanda, Congolese army soldiers decapitated four young men, cut off their arms, and then threw their heads and limbs 20 meters away from their bodies. The soldiers then raped 16 women and girls, including a 12-year-old girl, later killing four of them.

On about August 15, Congolese army soldiers massacred another group of civilians in the Nyabiondo area at the village of Ndoruma. Witnesses said that soldiers returning from a failed attack against a local militia allied to the FDLR earlier in the day deliberately killed at least 50 civilians whom they accused of collaborating with the FDLR and their allies. One woman witnessed soldiers kill her husband and then watched in horror as they torched her home, burning to death her three young children inside.

Congolese army soldiers also targeted civilians on the 10-kilometer stretch of road from Nyabiondo to Lwibo. On September 28 and 29, soldiers based at Kinyumba village along the road, abducted and gang-raped two separate groups of young women and girls, about 20 altogether, on their way to the market. When a local militia allied with the FDLR attacked the government soldiers the same day, they were repulsed by the soldiers, who called in help from MONUC's attack helicopters. Some of the women and girls escaped, but Congolese army soldiers killed at least five as they tried to flee.

On October 29, MONUC reported that the Congolese army had begun further military operations in the area north of Nyabiondo, raising concerns about more attacks on civilians.

Human Rights Watch conducted 21 fact-finding missions in North and South Kivu from January to October 2009, and found that Congolese army soldiers had deliberately killed at least 505 civilians from the start of operation Kimia II in March through September. Another 198 civilians were deliberately killed by Congolese army soldiers and their Rwandan army allies during an earlier five-week joint operation, known as Umoja Wetu, in late January and February.

Human Rights Watch also documented brutal retaliatory attacks by the FDLR militia, which has deliberately targeted Congolese civilians in response to government military operations. Between late January and September, the militia group deliberately killed at least 630 civilians, many in the areas of Ziralo, Ufumandu and Waloaluanda, on the border between North and South Kivu provinces.

"War crimes committed by the FDLR militia are absolutely no justification for Congolese government soldiers to commit atrocities," Van Woudenberg said. "The UN should be asking hard questions about the role of its peacekeepers in supporting such abusive operations."

UN officials have repeatedly told Human Rights Watch that they joined operation Kimia II because they believed their participation could help minimize harm to civilians. MONUC's mandate from the UN Security Council, Resolution 1856, permits it to support Congolese army operations against the FDLR and other armed groups. Since operations began, MONUC has made some notable efforts to protect civilians, which have undoubtedly helped to save lives.

The peacekeeping mission's mandate, however, requires it to attach "the highest priority" to protecting civilians. According to a January 13, 2009 note from the UN Office of Legal Affairs, and two subsequent legal notes from the same office on April 1 and October 12, shown to Human Rights Watch, MONUC has an obligation, in advance of agreeing to support any military operations with the Congolese army, to ensure that such operations are planned and conducted in accordance with international humanitarian law. MONUC may not participate in any operations in which there are substantial grounds to believe that the Congolese army units involved might violate international humanitarian law.

The same legal notes also say that MONUC has an obligation to cease its participation in operation Kimia II if it has credible information that the Congolese army is committing gross human rights violations and if attempts to intercede to stop the violations fail.

In May, Human Rights Watch published detailed information on war crimes committed by Congolese army soldiers involved in operation Kimia II. The UN's own investigations in 2009 also revealed that Congolese government soldiers were regularly committing crimes. During mid-2009, MONUC staff drew up a confidential list of 15 Congolese army officers with a track record of serious human rights abuses who were believed to be involved in operation Kimia II, which was presented to the mission's leadership.

UN peacekeeping officials told Human Rights Watch in May, June, and July that concerns about human rights violations committed by Congolese army soldiers involved in operation Kimia II were being discussed privately with Congolese government authorities. In September, the peacekeeping mission belatedly developed a draft policy setting out conditions for its support to operation Kimia II based on respect for human rights, which it submitted to the Congolese government for comment. On October 30, MONUC and the Congolese army established a joint provincial committee in North Kivu to investigate human rights violations committed by army soldiers and to remove abusive commanders. A similar committee is also to be established in South Kivu.

On November 1, Alain Le Roy, the head of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations announced during a visit to Congo that MONUC would suspend its support to the Congolese army's 213th Brigade operating in the Nyabiondo area. According to Le Roy, MONUC's own investigations had revealed that Congolese army soldiers had killed at least 62 civilians in the Lukweti area, just north of Nyabiondo. It is not yet clear how the suspension will be put into effect.

"Peacekeeping officials knew that war crimes were being committed by Congolese government forces, yet eight months into operation Kimia II, they are only now suspending the UN's support to one of the army units responsible," Van Woudenberg said. "Nyabiondo is not the only area where Congolese army soldiers are committing abuses. MONUC should immediately cease its support to all of operation Kimia II until abusive commanders are removed and effective measures are in place to protect the civilian population."

The Congolese government has also not removed well-known abusers of human rights from the army's ranks. Bosco Ntaganda, wanted on an arrest warrant for war crimes from the International Criminal Court, remains a general in the Congolese army and plays an important role in operation Kimia II, causing further problems for MONUC's support of the operation.

Military operations since January, including operation Kimia II, have resulted in the disarmament of 1,243 FDLR combatants from an estimated strength of 6,000, but the FDLR continues to recruit and its ability to attack civilians remains intact. MONUC should develop a comprehensive strategy to disarm the FDLR, making protection of civilians a priority. Its mandate permits peacekeepers to use force to disarm the FDLR on its own, without joining forces with the abusive Congolese army. The April 1 legal note from the Office of Legal Affairs specifically sets out this option.

"MONUC's continued participation in operation Kimia II, against its mandate and the UN's own legal advice, implicates UN peacekeepers in abuses," Van Woudenberg said. "Urgent consideration should be given to other options to disarm the FDLR militia that won't entail further Congolese army abuses against the people of eastern Congo."

Also available in:

Enough, Global Witness Welcome 2009 Congo Conflict Minerals Act | Enough

Enough, Global Witness Welcome 2009 Congo Conflict Minerals Act | Enough
The New Haven Alliance for Congo cordially invites you to a panel discussion on:

Women and Sexual Violence

in the Congo

November 18, 2009


Reception and viewing of photo exhibit “Congo/Women Portraits of War” to follow

St. Thomas More Center

268 Park Street, New Haven


Chouchou Namegabe Nabintu (Journalist and President of the Women’s Media Association for South Kivu/AFEM, DRC)

Elisabeth Wood (Professor of Political Science, Yale University)

Jeannie Annan (Director of Research and Evaluation, International Rescue Committee)

Moderator: Jason Stearns (Former ICG Central Africa Senior Analyst, Yale Political Science PhD Candidate)

This panel is organized by the New Haven Alliance for Congo with generous support from the Gaddis Smith Seminar Series of the International Affairs Council at Yale University.

For more information please contact Julie McCarthy at

Learn More:

South Kivu Women’s Media Association

New Haven Alliance for Congo

International Affairs Council of Yale University