March 17, 2017
I want to thank Acting Chairman Michael S. Piwowar for this opportunity to reconsider the implementation of Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the so-called conflict minerals law (hereafter DF-1502 or the law).
My name is David Aronson. I am an independent writer and scholar who has focused on eastern Congo for 30 years. I wrote an op-ed that appeared in the New York Times in 2011, shortly after an extended visit to the region, and testified before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services, Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee, on The Unintended Consequences of Dodd-Franks Conflict Minerals Provision on May 21, 2013. I have no association with any business or financial group. My only interest is in the laws impact on the people of eastern Congo.
I will make five points:
First, with the exception of certain activist groups, the law is opposed by nearly all Western academics and journalists with experience of the region
Second, the law was based on a faulty interpretation of the regions conflicts, and was therefore destined to do little or nothing to attenuate their severity
Third, the law has had severely negative impacts on the people it was meant to help
Fourth, the law was opposed from the outset by knowledgeable, local Congolese, who came to feel marginalized by a debate, framed--as it was by the advocates--as a conflict between Western activists and greedy multinationals.
Fifth, there are serious questions about the law and its impacts that two of the central advocacy groups--the Enough Project and Global Witness--have steadfastly refused to address, and that remain important if we are ever to to meaningfully help the Congolese in their efforts to create a better future for themselves and their children.
Since the late 1990s, protracted civil conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo have led to
an economic collapse, massive population displacements, deepening poverty, and a chronic state of food insecurity. It is hard to exaggerate the scale of the humanitarian catastrophe that has engulfed the country. Here are a few data points:
The International Rescue Committees detailed, geographically randomized population survey of 2007 estimated that 5.4 million people had died as a result of the wars and that the country was continuing to experience some 45,000 excess deaths per month. Even if the actual numbers are just half of what the IRC estimates, this would still make the conflict in eastern Congo the deadliest war since World War II.
In the 2014 UNDP report, the Congo placed 187th out of 187 countries on its ranking of human development indicators, behind Afghanistan, Niger and Burundi. The country stands near the bottom of the International Food Policy Research Institutes Global Hunger Index.
Some 88 percent of Congolese live below the absolute poverty line of $1.25 per day about 70 percent lack access to adequate food and one in four children is severely malnourished. About 2.7 million Congolese are internally displaced, third most in the World.
Given the scale of this disaster, it is entirely to their credit that activists in this country and abroad felt an obligation to respond. Their mission, to educate Western audiences about the suffering of distant people and enlist them in efforts to remedy that suffering, is part of an inspiring tradition that began with the 19th century abolition movement, continued through the international campaign against Red Rubber at the start of the 20th century, and persists in some of todays most distinguished human rights campaigns. It is a tradition I strongly identify with.
Unfortunately, in their quest to fashion a narrative that would resonate with and therefore galvanize their largely Western audience, activists ignored the complexities of the local context and brushed aside Congolese experts who repeatedly warned them of the dangers the conflict minerals campaign posed to their people. In doing so, they developed policy prescriptions that damaged an already tenuous economy, entrenched the position of the warlords, and accomplished little by way of resolving the conflicts.
Informed Opinion Opposes DF-1502
The consensus opinion among serious scholars and journalists to have visited eastern Congo opposes the law. Here are a dozen citations from highly credible sources across the political spectrum many more such sources are readily available:
How Congress Devastated the Congo
The New York Times (op-ed), August 7, 2011
For locals, however, the law has been a catastrophe. In South Kivu Province, I heard from scores of artisanal miners and small-scale purchasers, who used to make a few dollars a day digging ore out of mountainsides with hand tools. Paltry as it may seem, this income was a lifeline for people in a region that was devastated by 32 years of misrule under the kleptocracy of Mobutu Sese Seko (when the country was known as Zaire) and that is now just beginning to emerge from over a decade of brutal war and internal strife.
The pastor at one church told me that women were giving birth at home because they couldnt afford the $20 or so for the maternity clinic. Children are dropping out of school because parents cant pay the fees. Remote mining towns are virtually cut off from the outside world because the planes that once provisioned them no longer land
What's Wrong with Dodd-Frank 1502? Conflict Minerals, Civilian Livelihoods, and the
Unintended Consequences of Western Advocacy
The Center for Global Development, Working Paper 284, January 2012
Although its provisions have yet to be implemented, section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is already having a profound effect on the Congolese mining sector. Nicknamed Obamas Law by the Congolese, section 1502 has created a de facto ban on Congolese mineral exports, put anywhere from tens of thousands up to 2 million Congolese miners out of work in the eastern Congo, and, despite ending most of the trade in Congolese conflict minerals, done little to improve the security situation or the daily lives of most Congolese. In this report, I trace the development of section 1502 with respect to the pursuit of a conflict minerals-based strategy by U.S. advocates, examine the effects of the legislation, and recommend new courses of action to move forward in a way that both promotes accountability and transparency and allows Congolese artisanal miners to earn a living.
Enrico Carisch and Dr Claude Kabemba
Congo-Kinshasa: Conflict Minerals Not Fueling M23 Rebellion
The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (Johannesburg), November 27, 2012
The capture of Goma by M23 rebel forces is the latest demonstration of the ineffectiveness of the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and its army (the FARDC). Whatever the political machinations behind the military's most recent capitulation may be, the overarching themes are the longstanding institutional and governance weaknesses of Congo's central authorities - weaknesses that the Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) has highlighted multiple times in its reports and analyses.
And yet almost nothing has been done to actively tackle the real governance issues. In particular, the international community and the government of President Kabila have consistently neglected serious security sector reform in eastern Congo, partly due to the prevailing 'conflict minerals' narrative. But the reality on the ground could not be more different from the concept that every conflict in eastern Congo is - at its heart - a fight for control over the country's vast natural resources. This certainly does not appear to be the case with the current conflict.
In fact, a just-released research report from SARW - Conflict Gold to Criminal Gold: The new face of artisanal gold mining in Congo - provides compelling evidence that the hundreds of thousands of artisanal gold miners in four provinces (North Kivu, South Kivu, Oriental and Maniema) are no longer afraid of warlords or militias. Instead, they fear the hordes of corrupt civil servants, bureaucrats and members of the government's security forces, who are far more interested in exploiting the miners rather than supporting and protecting them
The current conflict is not about minerals. It is about Congo's dreadful governance - and the bloody role of neighbouring governments.
Jeroen Cuvelier, Steven Van Bockstael, Koen Vlassenroot Claude Iguma
Analyzing the Impact of the Dodd-Frank Act on Congolese Livelihoods
Social Science Research Council, November, 2014
This paper has pointed at a number of recent dynamics in Congos artisanal mining sector, some of which can be attributed to the introduction of the Dodd-Frank act. Our testimonies collected on peoples experiences during and after the Kabila embargo, which is believed to be direct consequence of Dodd-Frank, seem to confirm earlier systematic research. The embargo had a paralyzing effect on the regional economy and has drastically reduced peoples livelihood options. Even if Dodd-Frank for many stakeholders has been a wake-up call, has generated increased awareness of the urgent
need to address a number of negative traits of the mining industry, including the high level of militarization, corruption and exploitation of women and children, and has sped up the mining reform process, little real progress has been made on the ground. Living conditions of miners have not improved, the sector is still highly militarized, and a multitude of exploitative networks still control large parts of it.
Dangerous Tales: Dominant Narratives and their Unintended Consequences
African Affairs, Oxford University Press, February 2012
Three narratives have dominated the discourse on the Congo and oriented the intervention strategies. These narratives focus on a primary cause of violence, the illegal exploitation of natural resources a major consequence, sexual abuse against women and girls and a central solution, reconstructing state authority. The use of these three narratives has enabled advocates to put the Congo on the agenda of some of the most powerful states and organizations, and thus prompted action to end what remains a forgotten conflict. However, I argue that the well-meaning international efforts have also had unintended ramifications that have prevented the intervention from achieving its stated goals, and that have even, at times, contributed to the deterioration of the situation in eastern Congo. Because of these exclusive focuses, the international efforts have exacerbated the problems that they aimed to combat.
Institute of Development Policy and Management (University of Antwerp)
The DRC Mining Ban: the View from Kamituga
December 18, 2010
Despite the mining ban, gold exploitation in Kamituga continues. But the working conditions for the population have become even worse. Kamituga has a long history of both industrial and artisanal exploitation. Therefore, there is a considerable part of the population that is skilled and experienced in the sector. They know how to circumvent the measure and continue evacuating the gold quartz. For some of them the current situation reminds of the late eighties and early nineties, when they, as clandestine diggers, went in the industrial companys shafts at night. Their resilience and experience is part of their capital. But the whole enterprise has become risky. The Mining Police has found that catching clandestines is a profitable business. The sum to be paid when you are caught amounts to $150.
An unintended consequence? Collateral damage? When looking at this case, the following statement by the head of Global Witness campaign seems ironic: "It is clear to anyone who observes Congo closely that competition to control and exploit the country's vast mineral wealth is fueling the brutal conflict. The ban on mining activity could provide breathing space for fundamental reforms."
In Kamituga, the effect of the ban on mining is rather an increased militarization of the gold chain and increased levels of violence
The General Accounting Office (GAO)
SEC Conflict Minerals Rule, August 2015
As we noted in our 2010 report, U.S. agency and UN officials and others believe that the minerals trade in the DRC cannot be effectively monitored, regulated, or controlled as long as armed groups and some members of the Congolese national military continue to commit human rights violations and exploit the local population at will.
The Guardian (appeared jointly in the Washington Post)
Obama's Conflict Minerals Law has Destroyed Everything, say Congo Miners: US legislation aimed at damaging Congolese militias has inadvertently propelled millions deeper into poverty
December 2, 2014
"When his father could no longer make enough money from the tin mine, when he could no longer pay for school, Bienfait Kabesha ran off and joined a militia. It offered the promise of loot and food, and soon he was firing an old rifle on the frontlines of Africas deadliest conflict. He was 14.
But what makes Kabesha different from countless other child soldiers is this: his path to war involved not just the wrenching poverty and violence of eastern Congo but also an obscure measure passed by US lawmakers. Villagers call it Loi Obama – Obamas law."
Foreign Policy Magazine
How Dodd Frank is Failing Congo
February 2, 2015
"The campaign to stop conflict minerals is supposed to be protecting peoples lives in one of the most fragile parts of Africa. In fact, it seems to be doing the opposite."
The conflict mineral campaign has been a disaster for Congolese
September 22, 2011
In the past year Goma has suffered a miserable decline. Hundreds of mines in the surrounding countryside have cut output by as much as 95%. At the Humule coltan mine a few gumbooted miners scramble up a red-earth ravine where last year there were thousands. Most stopped coming because they could no longer find buyers for their nuggets of coltan, a metal used in electronic gadgets. They blame what they call the American law.
An obscure provision in the 2010 Dodd-Frank banking act forces companies listed in America to disclose the exact source of metals procured from Congo. The intention behind the law was good. Congolese militias and rogue army units, whose members rape and murder with abandon, finance themselves through mining and extortion from miners. The law tries to shame big buyers, such as Apple and Motorola, who use Congolese coltan, into dealing only with bona fide suppliers. But the effect has been to frighten them away from Congo altogether.
So the local economy has dropped off a cliff. Some unemployed miners had been expected to join militias, though evidence that they have done so is scant. Still, militia leaders and corrupt army commanders targeted by the Dodd-Frank law are doing rather well. Unlike legitimate dealers, they run smuggling networks and take metals across borders to sell them.
The Wall Street Journal
Inside Congo's Link in the Gold Chain: "Opportunities for Illicit Gain Only Increased After Conflict Minerals Law"
April 15, 2013
The opportunities for illicit gains only increased after the U.S. in 2010 passed a Wall Street overhaul, known as Dodd-Frank, that requires U.S.-listed companies to disclose whether their products have been manufactured with any metals—including tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold—that may have been used to finance violence in the Democratic of Congo and its surrounding region.
Beyond Conflict Minerals: The Congos Resource Curse Lives On
Dissent Magazine, Spring 2014
There is no question that much needs to change in the artisanal mines. But so far, the schemes being pushed by outside groups seem to have done more harm than good. Some of the most damning evidence against the boycott, in fact, has come from its key advocates.
A Faulty Diagnosis
The law was drafted based on a faulty interpretation of the regions conflicts, and was therefore destined to do little or nothing to attenuate their severity.
The Enough Project first made the case for conflict minerals legislation in April 2009 in language that was stark and moralistic:
The time has come to expose a sinister reality: Our insatiable demand for electronics products such as cell phones and laptops is helping fuel waves of sexual violence in a place that most of us will never go, affecting people most of us will never meet. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the scene of the deadliest conflict globally since World War II. There are few other conflicts in the world where the link between our consumer appetites and mass human suffering is so direct.
As several scholars have noted, this analysis fails on several counts:
1) It misdiagnoses the nature of the conflicts in eastern Congo. For example, the two militia that caused the most suffering, the M23 and the FDLR, have political rather than primarily economic motives for pursuing armed conflict.
2) It diverts attention from other much-needed policy actions in the field, such as resolving land conflict, promoting inter-community reconciliation, jump-starting economic development, and fighting corruption.
3) It does not take into account the enabling context. Even if minerals were as central to the conflict as advocates claimed, attempts to impose a regulatory regime are unlikely to succeed given the institutional weakness of Congo's central government.
4) It ignores the fact that there are numerous other opportunities for violence entrepreneurs to make money, from taxing transport routes, to robbing banks, to overseeing small brick and charcoal factories.
5) It increases the likelihood of conflict by depriving young men of nonviolent livelihood alternatives and by exacerbating competition between local stakeholders over ever-scarcer resources.
The law has had severely negative impacts on the people it was meant to defend.
The Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act was signed into law on July 22, 2010 on August 22, 2012, after several postponements to allow for further public debate and fact finding, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) promulgated a detailed set of implementation regulations. What has happened in Congo as a result?
In early 2011, in response to negative publicity from activist groups and in anticipation of the eventual implementation of DF-1502, the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC)— which includes most large US electronics companies—advised the Malaysia Smelting Corporation, the last remaining smelter processing minerals from eastern Congo, to stop accepting minerals from central Africa that were not certifiably clean. The resulting de facto embargo of Congolese minerals went into effect on April 1, 2011 and had an immediate impact on the artisanal mining sector and on the broader economy of the region.
To understand the extent of that impact, consider this open letter from 50 South Kivu civil society organizations dated July 5, 2011, and addressed to President Obama and SEC chair Mary Schapiro:
In this environment, artisanal mining has emerged as one of our only economic lifelines, and has directly and indirectly provided millions of jobs. The abrupt cessation of this trade has had devastating impacts on our people:
1. Millions of our artisanal miners have suddenly had their livelihood cut from under them. They find it increasingly difficult to pay school, health, or maternity fees some even report having difficulty providing food for their families.
2. Mining enclaves have emerged over the past decade in places so remote that only planes can access them. The world's sudden refusal to buy these minerals means the planes no longer service these communities with nothing to trade, they are unable to provide themselves with such basic necessities as salt, sugar, oil, cloths, soap and so on.
3. Because artisinal mining was one of our only engines of economic growth, secondary economic impacts are being felt throughout the province. Even in our large towns, economic activity has diminished construction slowed trade in everything fallen. People with very little to begin with are now doing with less. (http://bit.ly/2mEm1Vq)
I would add one more reason for concern: near epidemic-levels of livestock and crop diseases periodically impact agricultural production. Families who dispersed their risk by sending some members to mine while keeping others at home to farm are being hit on both counts they have nothing else to fall back on.
Today, the de facto embargo on Congos tin, tantalum and tungsten (the three Ts) is still in effect, and DF-1502 continues to depress the economy of eastern Congo. There has been some resumption in the trade, from three sources:
Several conflict-free initiatives are underway, with mixed results. The Dutch are funding a project in Nyabibwe that has produced a few hundred tons of product local CSOs hope to expand the project to five nearby mining sites. However, there are allegations that the site, widely viewed as a test case for responsible sourcing, is already being exploited by a military-led smuggling racket.
Despite the central governments suspension of a couple of Chinese trading houses from the mineral trade in May 2012, Chinese firms continue to buy some modest amount of undocumented minerals at significantly discounted prices.
Finally, there has been a significant expansion in illicit trade through Rwanda, with cassiterite in particular being smuggled across Lake Kivu and repackaged as domestic Rwandan product. The fact that Rwanda is one of the unintended beneficiaries of thelegislation is a bitter pill for many Congolese, who point out that Rwanda has been plundering Congolese mineral wealth for years.
Overall, however, the trade has by no means reached its pre-embargo level, and miners receive significantly less than they used to for each kilogram of mineral that they produce. (Untagged
cassiterite sells for $3-4 per kilo, in contrast to $9-10 per kilo for the tagged product. Miners were receiving $13-15 per kilo prior to the embargo.)
In contrast to the three Ts, the trade in gold continues unabated, with virtually no procedures in place to formalize let alone control it. As Sophia Pickles from Global Witness has documented, up to 10 tonnes of gold from South Kivu are being laundered each year through Burundi and exported to Dubai--with an almost complete absence of checks. In North Kivu, a significant portion of the gold trade was controlled by the Congolese army commanders, including ex-General Gabriel Amisi, who was fired as chief of staff last year after it was revealed he had been selling weapons to militia groups. While a number of efforts are underway to establish conflict-free gold supply chains for boutique jewelers, gold is so valuable, so easy to smuggle, and so fungible that it is hard to imagine how the trade could be brought under control. I would respectfully submit that preventing Congolese warlords from selling gold to Middle East or South Asian traders in one of the most ungoverned areas of the world is not a feasible policy goal for the SEC.
Congolese Voices Suppressed
It is vitally important to understand that the law was opposed from the outset by knowledgeable, local Congolese, who came to feel marginalized by a debate, framed--as it was by the advocates--as a conflict between Western activists and greedy multinationals.
In my New York Times op-ed I reported that knowledgeable Congolese felt excluded from the conflict minerals debate. It was, they told me, a dialog dominated by Western advocacy groups confronting Western electronics companies. As a result, they said, immensely important decisions about the lives of millions of Congolese were made without any input from them. Once the advocacy groups succeeded in framing the debate as a contest between themselves and greedy corporate interests, no one bothered to solicit the opinion of local Congolese. As the leader of a civil-society group, Eric Kajemba, asked me, more in confusion than in anger, If the advocacy groups arent speaking for the people of eastern Congo, whom are they speaking for?
Of course, it is always possible for advocates to find, or hire, Congolese who will say the opposite. In fact, there is now so much money circulating among NGOs working on mining certification schemes in eastern Congo that there are quite a few Congolese ready to praise the campaign.
This poses a dilemma: how to persuade fair-minded people that the people I spoke to in Congo represent the consensus view among knowledgeable Congolese, while the Congolese the advocates cite are the exceptions? Short of going there themselves, readers might have to conclude that they lack the knowledge needed to make any conclusions.
It happens, however, that an organization with impeccable credentials for supporting the rights of workers in Third World countries wrote a contemporaneous paper about this very topic. The organization describes itself this way: "MakeITFair is a European project focusing on the electronics industry, especially on consumer electronics like mobile phones, laptops and MP3 players. We want to let young people across Europe know about the labour abuses and environmental problems that are going on right now around the world – just to satisfy our demand for all the latest electronic gadgets."
You would think that a group like this would be enthusiastic supporters of the work from Enough and Global Witness. Go look at their website to check out their bona fides. Yet in an October 2010 report, they wrote the following:
Recently, numerous efforts and initiatives ranging from legislation to certification have focused on the link between the conflict and the trade in minerals from Eastern DRC. The makeITfair project, however, deplores the lack of communication with local stakeholders when formulating what should be done. The report entitled Voices from the inside presents local views on mining reform in Eastern DRC. Although civil society groups welcome policy makers who are trying to clean up the mining business in Eastern DRC, they want to have a stronger voice in the debate and more input into the initiatives that are currently taking shape.
"When high level institutions and industry are busy drawing up standards, local views and priorities are in danger of remaining unheard. The makeITfair project wants to channel the voices of people and civil society in Eastern DRC," says Pivi Pyhnen, researcher at Finnwatch and coauthor of the report. They go on to say:
Recently, numerous efforts and initiatives ranging from legislation to certification have focused on the link between conflict and the mineral trade from Eastern DRC. Despite the fact that all such initiatives aim to end the mineral trade funding armed groups in Eastern DRC, there is growing concern that there is a boycott in practice on minerals from Eastern DRC, which may lead to worse consequences for the people on ground.
In the field interviews it was demonstrated that all members of civil society groups in Goma and Bukavu welcome the attempts of policymakers to clean up the mining business in Eastern DRC. However, they want to have a stronger voice in the debate and more influence over initiatives that are currently taking shape. Most of the respondents rejected the idea of an embargo on minerals from Eastern DRC, while they expressed their concerns about the feasibility of traceability mechanisms, the lack of sensitization and organization of stakeholders at the grassroots level, and the lack of attention to social problems associated with the exploitation and trade in mineral resources. These problems include land disputes, forced labour and sexual violence. During interviews in Goma and Bukavu in May 2010, IPIS encountered very few representatives of civil society groups who were in favour of an embargo on minerals from Eastern DRC. By far most informants questioned the usefulness of an embargo. (http://bit.ly/2mcaTmm)
To summarize: There is a contemporaneous report from a credible source that local experts felt excluded from the debate, and that these local experts were warning anyone who would listen that the conflict minerals initiative was about to result in the imposition of an embargo on the minerals, with disastrous consequences for their own people. This is exactly what happened.
There are, furthermore, an extremely wide range of Congolese who have written critically about the campaign. In September, 20214, 70 of these Congolese wrote an open letter about the campaign:
So far, progress has been made in producing more ethical products for consumers, but stakeholders have not yet proceeded to improve the lives of Congolese people, nor address the negative impact current conflict-free initiatives are having. If the conflict minerals agenda is to lead to positive change on the ground, legislation passed by national governments and steps such as those outlined by Apple or Intel need to be grounded in a more holistic approach that is better tailored to local realities. Failure to do so will continue to seriously limit the ability of conflict minerals initiatives to improve the daily lives of the eastern Congolese and their neighbours. Worse, these initiatives will risk contributing to, rather than alleviating, the very conflicts they set out to address. (http://bit.ly/2mYCeXN)
Global Witness and The Enough Project pride themselves on their hard-hitting, pull-no-punches research into malefactors around the world, from African warlords to corrupt Western bankers. Central to their ethos is a belief in openness and transparency--in the idea, as the cliche goes, that sunshine is the best disinfectant.
Yet when I tried to find out what they knew about the potential harm Dodd-Frank 1502 might cause local populations, they clammed up faster than congressmen before a grand jury. (To see their "non-response responses" to my queries, click below the fold.) When I urged them to answer the actual questions I posed, they either stopped returning my emails and phone calls entirely or claimed that they weren't going to respond because the questions themselves were biased and intellectually unfair. The questions follow below you can judge for yourself how unfair they are.
I find their refusal to answer my questions not just hypocritical, but troubling. Hypocritical, of course, because you don't get to demand that companies and governments open their books to you and then refuse to answer perfectly straightforward questions from your critics. Troubling, because their refusal undermines the legitimacy of an ideal I hold dear. If organizations whose foundational principle is transparency refuse to answer questions about their work, why should companies such as BP or Union Carbide, to take two companies not entirely at random? If transparency becomes a flag of convenience, to be hoisted at times and places of our choosing, what happens to its moral force?
We have a right to find out what Global Witness and Enough knew before they undertook this campaign. A million or so people in eastern Congo--among the poorest and most vulnerable on earth--have been affected by their work. Though it was done in their name, they had no meaningful say in the elaboration of the law or in the public campaign that preceded it. Nor is there any authority, legal or moral, to which they can now appeal.
Here are the questions I posed the advocates. Some seek to establish a common frame of reference, others to determine--to coin a phrase--what they knew and when they knew it. I encourage other journalists interested in the "conflict minerals" controversy to see if they can get elicit answers from these self-appointed watchdogs.
1) It has been widely reported that electronic companies instructed smelters to cease accepting mineral shipments from eastern Congo beginning April 1 2011. Is that reporting correct, in your opinion? If it is correct, what do you think prompted the companies to do so?
2) What portion of the mining industry in eastern Congo is characterized by slavery and child labor, in your opinion? What research can you refer me to on that question, specifically?
3) What impact has the decline in mineral exports from eastern Congo had on the miners and their families, economically and socially? Have they been able to sustain themselves through alternate livelihoods, such as agriculture, for example? What research can you refer me to on that question? What research are you conducting on that question?
4) Why do you refuse to call for further research on the current economic well-being of miners? Surely you must want to know what is happening to the very sort of people your organization exists to defend. Do you think this question is either irrelevant or trivial?
5) When did you become aware of local and international voices warning that Dodd-Frank 1502 would have deleterious consequences for the local populations? What research did you conduct to examine the validity of that concern?
6) What consultations did you undertake with local actors in the Kivus before deciding to champion Dodd-Frank? Please give me as many of the names of the Congolese civil society leaders you spoke to as you can. Along those lines, did you speak specifically to researchers at the Pole Institute, OGP, or BEST? What did they tell you?
7) Did you anticipate the law would result in a decline in mineral exports? If so, what social and economic impact did you think such a decline would have on local populations?
8) Did you undertake any prospective economic/social impact assessment before supporting the law? If so, what were your findings? If not, why not? In retrospect, dont you think it advisable to determine the likely impact of your advocacy campaign on local people before engaging in one?
9) What measures did you call for to support the people whose livelihoods would be undermined by the passage of Dodd Frank? Did you insist that these measures be put in place prior to or simultaneously with the passage of Dodd Frank?
10) Do you believe that the current economic conditions of local miners caused by Dodd-Frank demand any sort of exigent response from US policymakers? If so, what are you doing to ensure that one is forthcoming?
It is not too late to begin to develop a clearer sense of what impact the embargo has had. A properly conducted social impact analysis is desperately needed. It would focus on such questions as these:
How has the embargo affected the miners, their communities, and the broader economy of the region? If miners have seen their income decline, by how much? What alternate income sources are available to them? What survival strategies did they have in place and have those proven sufficient? Have they been able to make up for their losses, and if so how? If not, how are they surviving? What are the implications for their health? for their diet and nutrition? for the schooling of their children and for access to health care? for the achievement of such life goals as, for example, saving enough to marry or building a better home? for helping non-immediate family members? Has it caused a heightened risk of mortality? How has it affected relationships within the family? Has it brought stress to family relationships and led to increased friction and conflict? Has it had differential impacts on women, men, children, the aged? What is happening in those communities that are no longer served by incoming planes?
What impact has it had on the comparative strength of various rebel groups, militia, or FARDC units? Which groups have suffered a decline in their profit from the mineral trade, by how much, and how have they responded? To what extent, if at all, have they benefited, by moving into the illegitimate or black market trade? To what extent has the embargo encouraged smuggling and other forms of fraud? To what extent have government tax receipts from the trade diminished, and what impact has that had on governance?
What secondary effects has the embargo caused? Given that the mineral trade was one of the region's primary sources of income and foreign currency, how have those who served the economic needs of mining communities been affected? How important was mining to the regional economy as a whole and how big a loss has the embargo been? Given the dearth of reliable statistics, how can this be measured? Who has been most/least affected? What regions or territories? What impact has the embargo had on sectors such as construction or banking?
Listen to Congolese
Finally, I would ask that the SEC heed the voices of Congolese who have been affected most directly by the law:
Serge Mulumba, president of the mining cooperative CDMC, in a letter to the SEC:
"We cannot give you exactly the number of lives that are lost each day following the cessation of artisanal mining in the DRC and yet even if a child died or who is hungry or do not go to school because his father digger lacked money, this is a tragedy, it is a sad news that should challenge our humanity." (http://bit.ly/2nwTWDf)
Pastor Raymond Muhombo Shemihiyo, in an open letter posted on Fair Jewelry Auction:
"Please listen attentively to our cries of weeping and anguish. Our families and us will be doomed to death if you do not hear these cries of alarm. Do not wait to rescue us when we will be already in the grave. Act in time to avoid the humanitarian catastrophe that would arise from the consequences of your suspension to purchase our minerals." (http://bit.ly/2mYs8Gt)
The heads of three South Kivu mining associations, in a letter to Intel, begged the EICC to reconsider DF-1502:
What is the refuge of all the Congolese jobless, around 85 % of the population. Is it to make peace or to trouble the peace, when the life is stopped for a population? No job, no life. Please imagine the consequences (http://bit.ly/2mYt7Xf)
Father Didier de Failly s.j., in a letter to the SEC:
Now if the Dodd-Frank regulations are applied from April this year it will ruin all these efforts and condemn hundreds of thousands of people in Eastern DRC to keep under the terror of these mafiosi barons, instead of improving the whole situation. Even in Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi, thousands of people will be badly affected. (http://bit.ly/2mS0CsH)
(Attached File #1)
Copyrighted material redacted. Author cites:
Aronson, David. "How Congress Devastated Congo." The New York Times. The New York Times, 07 Aug. 2011. Web. 20 Mar. 2017. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/08/opinion/how-congress-devastated-congo.html