Topic: 2023-Impact of Conflict Minerals
Delegate Name: Josh Machnacki
The term “conflict minerals” refers to minerals – namely tantalum, tin, tungsten, and gold – that are sourced from regions experiencing armed conflict and human rights abuses, most notably in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In 2011, United Nations member states endorsed Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights. These principles obligate businesses to conduct due diligence in their supply chains, particularly in conflict zones, to identify and mitigate potential human rights abuses related to mineral extraction and trade. The framework emphasizes the importance of corporate responsibility to respect human rights. Collaboration between governments is also encouraged to ensure responsible sourcing practices and to establish National Action Plans that regulate and monitor mineral trade, contributing to the prevention of human rights violations associated with conflict minerals.
Rwanda recognizes the challenges the DRC faces and has implemented measures responding to conflict minerals in the past. Rwanda banned the sale of minerals from areas where there is fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2011 to put an end to mineral smuggling from the DRC within its borders.
The situation regarding peace and security in the DRC, especially in its eastern provinces, has shown little improvement since 2014 due to the continual violence perpetrated by armed groups. Conflicts in eastern DRC remained relatively stable from 2014 to 2016 but witnessed a steady escalation from 2017 to 2021, resulting in an increase in both battles and fatalities. This is caused by many factors, including weak governance, corruption, and the exploitation of natural resources. The dynamics of these conflicts have been further complicated by shifting alliances among armed groups and external events such as delayed elections have roused tensions. Despite the 2011 efforts, the region continues to grapple with interdependent factors that contribute to an enduring climate of insecurity and ongoing violence.
It is clear that further action is required on the part of the UN to combat conflict minerals and violence in the DRC. The delegation from Rwanda recommends humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping efforts be directed to these issues. Rwanda urges the government of the DRC to take a stronger and more unified action against armed groups that are causing violence. Rwanda acknowledges the significance of collaborative efforts to address the root causes of conflicts in the DRC and emphasizes diplomatic engagement, regional cooperation, and adherence to international frameworks. Rwanda is committed to working closely with the DRC and other neighboring countries to mitigate the influence of armed groups, promote good governance, and address the complex interplay of factors contributing to insecurity in the region. The United Nations should strive to find a strategy to bring about lasting peace and security in the eastern DRC. Rwanda believes in the potential for constructive regional partnerships to address the challenges at hand and is committed to stability and cooperation for the good of the many.