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.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|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.|
|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.|