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Highlights

Rich in minerals, the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has long been the site of one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. Since 1998, an estimated 5 million have died as a result of the conflict. GAO was asked to examine the connection between minerals trade and human rights abuses, and the efforts to help control the trade. This report assesses (1) how the key minerals are mined, transported, and processed; (2) the links between the minerals trade, armed conflicts, and human rights abuses; (3) measures the United States and the international community have taken to control the trade and; (4) challenges faced in controlling the trade. GAO reviewed and analyzed reports, memorandums, and other documents and interviewed officials from the Department of State (State), other United States agencies, the United Nations (UN), and foreign governments as well as representatives from nongovernmental organizations and industry.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of State 1. To respond to the urgent humanitarian crises and reinforce U.S. commitment to work for peace and security in eastern DRC, in collaboration with the DRC government and international partners, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the heads of other relevant U.S. agencies, should provide Congress and other international stakeholders with concrete, actionable steps that the United States could take to help monitor, regulate, and control the minerals trade in eastern DRC, including steps to help address the challenges of lack of security, weak governance, and lack of infrastructure in eastern DRC.
Closed - Implemented
In March 2010 the Secretary of State approved a strategic action plan concerning DRC conflict minerals. In July 2010, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-203) (the Dodd-Frank Act), which requires the Secretary of State to submit a strategy to Congress to (1) address the linkages between human rights abuses, armed groups, mining of conflict minerals, and commercial products and (2) promote peace and security in the DRC by supporting efforts to monitor and control the mineral trade and develop stronger governance to facilitate transparency within the minerals trade. State submitted an updated strategic action plan to Congress in the fall of 2010 that outlined five objectives for addressing linkages between human rights abuses, armed groups, mining of conflict minerals, and commercial products. The strategic action plan serves as a framework that guides State's activities and funding in the DRC. For example, State has worked with USAID to review how foreign assistance provided by both agencies relates to conflict minerals and then matched those funds related to conflict minerals against the five goals of the strategic action plan.
Department of State 2. Recognizing the role that timely information on mines and armed groups could play in monitoring, regulating, and controlling the conflict minerals trade in eastern DRC, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and working with other relevant international stakeholders, should make every effort to periodically update information based on the best available data on mines, armed groups, and mineral trading routes subject to illicit taxation by illegal armed groups or Congolese military units.
Closed - Implemented
In July 2010, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank Act), which requires the Secretary of State to produce and periodically update a map of mineral-rich zones, trade routes, and areas under the control of armed groups in the DRC. State produced such a map for the first time in early 2010, prior to the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act. State has since updated the map three times--in June 2011, May 2012, and June 2013.

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