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Thursday, October 30, 2003

International mining companies in the DR Congo
A report produced for the UN's Security Council by the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the DRC has said that there is a direct link between the activities of international mining companies and the funding of armed Congolese groups.

The report says:

* "illegal exploitation remains one of the main sources of funding for groups involved in perpetuating conflict", that

*"The flow of arms, exploitation and the continuation of the conflict are inextricably linked"

and urges mining companies to raise their corporate behaviour in conflict areas and at the very least to abide by the same rules they followed at home.

Altogether 18 companies, are named as rejecting suggestions that their activities in the DR Congo are questionable or refused to accept that they have a responsibility to avoid providing support even inadvertently to rebel groups in the DR Congo and the UN has said that further investigations may be needed into the activities of named companies.

One of the named companies, De Beers, has reacted angrily to the suggestion that it is in breach of OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises as a result of the rough diamond buying activities of two of its clients, or sightholders, and has said that it will work with the UK's Department of Trade + Industry to resolve this issue...

Others companies mentioned include three diamond traders, the Steinweg transport company — which takes mineral resources out of the country, Cogecom — which exports coltan, used in the production of cellular phones and electronic games, and five other companies have been blacklisted.

The Belgian bank BBL, now ING, is also accused of having links with several of the accused plunderers.

Among the resources in the Congo are gold, diamonds, niobium, cassiterite, medicinal barks, cobalt, copper and coltan.

Last year a similar report recommended that financial restrictions be placed on 29 companies based in Belgium, Rwanda, Uganda, DRC, Zimbabwe + South Africa, and a travel ban and financial restrictions imposed on 54 people.

The people mentioned included cabinet members + top officials from Congo Kinshasa + Zimbabwe. Congolese officials are Augustin Katumba Mwanke (Minister of Presidency), Mwenze Kongolo (Minister of National Security), Dennis Numbi Kalume (Minister of Planning and Reconstruction), Kibassa Maliba (ex-Minister of Mines), Mwana Nanga Mawapanga, the Congo's Ambassador in Harare and Didier Kazadi Nyembwe, Director of the Kinshasa Intelligence Agency.

The list further includes Emmerson Mnangagwa Dambudzo, who is Speaker of Parliament in Zimbabwe and many businessmen and (ex-)military personnel from Uganda, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, the Congo and from outside the region.

Rwanda, Uganda + Zimbabwe were singled out as countries that had adopted "strategies for maintaining the mechanisms for revenue generation, many of which involve criminal activities, once their troops have departed."

Further reading:

Kimberley Process Diamond Certification Scheme

Global Witness: Kimberley Process at a Turning Point

Human Rights Watch: U.N. Must Address Corporate Role in War

Amnesty International USA: Democratic Republic of Congo Ituri - How many more have to die?