Unintended consequences or ambivalent policy objectives? Conflict minerals and mining reform in the DR Congo
Since the early 2000s, the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the international community have initiated a reform process in the artisanal mining sector to break the linkages between mineral extraction and violent conflict. Research on the reforms reaches different conclusions about their impact on conflict, governance and livelihoods, and usually focuses on one aspect of the reforms, accepting the objectives of the policy at face value. This discourse analysis of the objectives of reform policies aims to understand how they represent the problem, the solutions they envision and their proposed plans. The study applied the method of interpretive policy analysis to four policy documents originating from 2010 to 2012: the UN Group of Experts report, the Dodd– Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas, and the ICGLR Regional Certification Mechanism Manual. The study finds that the policies hinge on two seemingly commensurate objectives, varying between conflict-free sourcing and promoting peace. We find that, in reality, these objectives may not align. We also find that much reform practice is geared towards conflict-free sourcing, and is far less appropriate for promoting peace. This includes the tendency to implement the policies in conflict-free zones, their narrow scope, the reliance on the government and their indifference to the impact of the reforms for poor miners. The findings suggest that exercising due diligence has become a goal in itself. This raises the question of whether giving buyers a clear conscience and developing a traceable and conflict-free product has received more prominence than has contributing to improving the situation of the Congolese population.
|Development Policy Review|
|Organisation||International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)|
Diemel, J.A, & Hilhorst, D.J.M. (2018). Unintended consequences or ambivalent policy objectives? Conflict minerals and mining reform in the DR Congo. Development Policy Review. doi:10.1111/dpr.12372