Working Together To Block the Illicit Trade in Conflict Minerals

Dikembe Mutombo With Under Secretaries Hormats and Otero

About the Authors: Maria Otero serves as Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs, Robert Hormats serves as Under Secretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs, and Johnnie Carson serves as Assistant Secretary for African Affairs.

Many people know Dikembe Mutombo as one of the greatest shot blockers in NBA history, but fewer know of his efforts to better the lives of those from his native country, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). A serious issue in the DRC and throughout the Great Lakes Region of central Africa is conflict minerals and those that suffer as a result of this illicit trade. This week, we all had a chance to sit down with Mr. Mutombo and his partners from Hewlett-Packard to discuss his work on this critical issue.

Addressing the problem of conflict minerals is a high priority for the State Department. Secretary Clinton highlighted the issue during her August 2009 visit to the DRC, and since then we have been working closely with a range of stakeholders, including industry associations like the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) and Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI). These groups are working to ensure that metal smelters are conflict-free and support traceability efforts led by the tin industry.  EICC and GeSI member companies brought over 100 representatives from the electronics, manufacturing, automotive, and chemical industries to Washington, D.C. to meet with officials from the U.S. and Congolese governments to learn more about these efforts. 

We applaud Mr. Mutombo's commitment to improve the situation in the DRC and look forward to working with the many stakeholders in industry, civil society, international institutions, and governments to find solutions to this critical problem.

Together, Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero, Under Secretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs Robert Hormats, and Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson have worked for the last year responding to the Secretary's call to address the issue of conflict minerals.Related Content: Ending the Conflict Minerals Trade in the Eastern Congo and Ending the Conflict Minerals Trade



United States
November 21, 2010

Zharkov in the U.S.A. writes:

Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006
Section 105:

Authorizes the Secretary to withhold assistance under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, other than humanitarian, peacekeeping, and counterterrorism assistance, for a foreign country determined by the Secretary to be acting to destabilize the DRC.

So where are those sanctions?

Dominic Johnson argues that because of the failure to include the Congolese people in crucial debate on ‘their’ issues, the international community has made a serious error of judgment in not recognizing that the situation in the east of the DRC goes beyond just a presumed squabble over minerals and raises fundamental questions of the structuring of state power which have to be taken into account by anyone hoping to work with the Congolese state in order to reform the Congolese mining sector.

The Conflict Minerals narrative leaves the public believing that the Congo’s problems are rebel groups that brutally rape women to control lucrative mines. When in fact the source of Congo’s challenge has been the attempt by the West to weaken this wealthy and strategically important country through wars, invasions, assassinations and propping up of dictators.

Rwanda is a top buyer of Congo’s conflict minerals according to Bloomberg News, and Uganda is building a refinery ostensibly to refine conflict minerals from Congo - but the US has said or done nothing about their allies.

The US continues to give both countries aid, military equipment and training. And shockingly, Conflict Minerals advocates are silent about a main buyer of conflict tin.

According to Dow Jones news, Rwanda stands to make $200 million in 2010 from Tin, Tantalum & Tungsten, none of which it has in large quantities but rather secures these conflict minerals from the Congo. Yet, the conflict minerals advocates are deadly silent. Why?

See: ""

Ogoubi w.
November 21, 2010

Ogoubi K.W. in Togo writes:

This appears as a small light in the deep african nigth.

Pamela G.
West Virginia, USA
November 22, 2010

Pamela G. in West Virginia writes:

Muntambo is a great role-model to the youth of the Congo and the US,


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