The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID) and the Dutch Foreign Ministry have, in a move to combat trade in conflict minerals, commissioned research to explore mechanisms of increasing transparency in minerals trade within the Great Lakes region.
The development comes a few days after a leaked United Nations group of experts’ report which clearly shows that the rag tag militia, the so called Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), is heavily involved in illegal trade of minerals, in the DRC.
The trade in conflict minerals has for long been a cause of unending conflicts on the African continent. In some instances, the minerals have prolonged and complicated conflicts caused by other factors.
It is worth noting that without markets and capacity to exploit and trade in illegal minerals, the ex-Rwandan Army and Interahamwe militia reinvented as FDLR, would not be able to prolong and sustain their terrorist activities in the DRC.
As the UN report shows, the illegal trade has been made possible by a number of conflict entrepreneurs in many countries, some disguised under a myriad of causes ranging from religious to humanitarian work.
The findings should, unlike those of the UN panel of experts, not be allowed to gather dust. The people of the region deserve better from the international community.
The importance of the findings and reports by numerous eminent persons, and organizations, like the UN and now DfID and the Dutch Foreign Ministry, will only be significant if their findings are followed up with concrete and drastic action to put an end to this illegal trade, especially by the FDLR and its accomplices.
It is by such measures, that the people of this region will have confidence in these bodies that commission the reports.