UN resolution highlights impunity of criminal networks in Congolese army
Global Witness today welcomed the Security Council’s adoption of sanctions Resolution 2021, which calls for action to tackle criminal networks within the Congolese national army who are involved in the illicit minerals trade.
The Security Council highlights the failure of former armed groups to integrate into the Congolese national army, particularly the Congrès national pour la défense du peuple (CNDP), which was awarded control of mineral-rich areas in exchange for its defection to the government. This perpetuates a very dangerous situation in which much of the region’s mineral wealth remains in the hands of a powerful armed group with its own command structures and agenda.
“Our recent research shows that former CNDP rebel commanders, notably International Criminal Court indictee Bosco Ntaganda, still hold significant influence in the army and control over lucrative mineral resources,” said Annie Dunnebacke, Senior Campaigner at Global Witness. “The military have left some mine sites in recent months, but CNDP-controlled mineral smuggling networks continue to operate with complete impunity. If eastern Congo is to establish a clean minerals trade that benefits the civilian population, this has to end.”
The resolution also cites research by the UN Group of Experts linking better supply chain controls – known as due diligence – by some companies with improved governance of Congo’s mining sector. Last year the Security Council backed a five-step due diligence framework developed by the UN Group of Experts, for companies sourcing minerals from DRC. This year’s resolution renews the Group’s mandate for a further year and requests that it report to the Council on the impact of due diligence on mineral supply chains from eastern DRC. If properly enforced, these steps could be crucial in creating the conditions for a clean mineral trade which brings prosperity rather than suffering to Congolese citizens.
“Due diligence standards have been endorsed locally, regionally and internationally and detailed guidance is available for companies sourcing minerals from the region. Companies must now implement these controls and buy from demilitarised areas,” said Dunnebacke. “The Group of Experts has a key role to fulfil in monitoring the implementation of these standards in DRC and along the international supply chain, and in supporting the Congolese government’s efforts to clean up the mineral trade.”
The new sanctions resolution comes alongside the welcome news that the Security Council is imposing targeted sanctions on the leader of the violent Mai Mai Sheka militia, which preys on Congolese communities and the minerals trade. While these announcements lay the basis for more effective international action to counter the links between commerce and violence, they also set a test for member states, who must now show that they are implementing these decisions.
“Follow-up on previous sanctions resolutions on Congo has been consistently weak,” said Annie Dunnebacke. “In past years no action has been taken against any of the companies trading conflict minerals. Governments’ implementation of the UN’s supply chain due diligence standards has, with a handful of exceptions, been non-existent. The UN Security Council should be commended for its efforts to show leadership on this issue. It now needs to track compliance with its decisions much more aggressively to ensure that its resolutions have an impact outside of New York.”
Annie Dunnebacke +44 7912 517127
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Notes to editors:
1. UN Security Council Resolution 2021 can be accessed here.
2. The ‘Due diligence guidelines for the responsible supply chain of minerals from red flag locations to mitigate the risk of providing direct or indirect support for conflict in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’, which were written by the UN Group of Experts on DRC and endorsed by the UN Security Council in 2010, can be accessed here. These standards mirror the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas, which are global in scope. These OECD due diligence standards can be accessed here.
3. For a summary explanation of supply chain due diligence, traceability and certification, see Global Witness, Congo’s Minerals Trade in the Balance: Opportunities and Obstacles to Militarisation, page 6.
4. The UN Security Council announced on 28 November that it was adding to its assets freeze and travel ban list Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka, the leader of the armed group known as Mai Mai Sheka. The announcement can be accessed here.
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