Businesses Will Be Held Accountable Under American Trade Law

For years now, the Democratic Republic of Congo has been in a state of constant war. Several rebel groups have been fighting each other for reasons more sophisticated than this article could ever give justice to. But how are these rebels funding themselves?

The answer lies in your laptop, or mobile phone or light bulb. Theoretically, we as consumers of these items,  could have contributed to the conflict in the Congo.  There are the obvious minerals of value, such as gold, but there is so much more. Cassiterite is a substance used in laptops, coltan which is an essential part of mobile phone design and then finally wolframite which can be found in light bulbs.  The Congo is a treasure trove of these minerals, particularly in the country’s most problematic eastern regions. Some experts remark that while the reduction of illicit mineral trade will not bring about peace, it could ease the situation somewhat.

Enter the American Congress. Recent legislation from Congress could curb the black market in these minerals and add more support to the legal market.  Those companies that report to the American Securities and Exchange Commission will now have to show whether their minerals came from the Congo or any of its nine neighbours. If the minerals did come from there, the company will have to prove how they purchased and from whom, so as to determine its legitimacy. It is suggested that the guidelines of the UN and the OCED will be followed in order to best achieve this aim.

Experts and reports indicate that as many as 80% of Congolese minerals are smuggled out of the country.  The estimate for the amount of gold alone is $1.2 billion a year, with next to none of that going into the country’s treasury. Further reports indicate that many international companies obtain their minerals either directly through corrupt Congolese army officials or rebel groups, or indirectly through traders in one of the nine neighbouring countries. In addition to this other international corporations, unsure as to how to guarantee the source of the minerals, have ceased buying from the Congo altogether.

Some manufacturers such as Apple and Nokia are attempting to rectify the situation and be accountable. They have launched a pilot scheme which essentially traces the ore from the mine to the end-user and so long as the ore label and the paperwork match, the ore is legitimate. But there are some perceived problems, as rebel groups have a strong influence and corruption is rife. But the American legislation will do a lot to make some businesses more accountable in the purchasing methods.

About the Author:
Antonia Torr is a graduate from the University of Leicester, with a degree in Law with European Union Law. Having enjoyed writing from a young age, Antonia has received numerous awards that act as a testament to her quality of writing. Only the Best Quality Solicitors near you, please visit our website at
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