The illegal mining of so-called "conflict minerals" such as gold, cobalt and coltan, is rife in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes Region. The earnings help finance the fighting there and are linked to human rights abuses and phenomena such as coercion and child labour. MEPs attending a workshop on 1 December at the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in Kinshasa addressed the problem with local Congolese experts and MPs from ACP countries.
Bulgarian centre right MEP Mariya Nedelcheva (EPP) who chaired a workshop on regional stability in Central Africa and the threats caused by the illegal exploitation of minerals, warned against "simplistic explanations" of the phenomenon and said it could only be tackled via coordinated action at the regional and international level.
Appeal to the EU to legislate on the use of conflict minerals
Louis Michel, co-president of the EU-ACP Joint Parliamentary Assembly said the illegal exploitation of resources was a "fundamental issue" for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He urged the Assembly to press the EU to follow the lead of the US Congress in adopting legislation against the use of "blood minerals" (the so-called Dodd-Frank law).
Mr Michel recalled that European Ministers had opposed such an initiative that would require large publicly traded companies that have contracts with the DRC to report the amounts they pay to governments for access to resources in oil, gas and if they use minerals from conflict zones.
The secretary-general of the Congolese mining Ministry Christophe Kaninio called on all African countries to commit to the Kimberley process - a joint governmental and industry initiative representing 75 countries which aims to avoid trade of conflict diamonds by imposing strict certification and traceability rules.
UN Security Council: arms embargo, travel bans and asset freezes
Belgian Green MEP Isabelle Durant denounced the fact that the mines in the Kivu region continue to be illegally exploited with the direct involvement of high-ranking officials of the Congolese army, according to recent reports by the UN .
UN experts said in a report published on Monday 29 November 2010 that Congolese army units continue to be involved in illegal trafficking of minerals, despite President Kabila’s call for an end to exploitation of the minerals trade in the Kivu region in September 2010.
The UN Security Council resolution adopted a resolution on the same day to extend sanctions (including an arms embargo) on rebel groups and travel bans and asset freezes on people linked to illicit mineral trading until November 2011.