Preventing the export of conflict diamonds in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has large reserves of cobalt, gold, gems, copper, timber, and uranium. However, the most valuable resource that the DRC possess is its large reserve of diamonds. Diamonds essentially serve as a pillar to the DRC’s struggling economy. Plagued by civil unrest, the DRC is desperately trying to stabilize its economy. Their efforts have been met with stiff resistance due to the ongoing civil war and illegal diamond trade. Not only is the DRC losing potential revenue from the illegal mining of diamonds, but also these diamonds are being used to finance the rebel armies. In response, the U.N. has drafted several resolutions and imposed sanctions in order to try and curtail the illegal trade. The DRC has also agreed to follow the Kimberley Process in hopes of preventing the export of illegal diamonds. However, these efforts are not enough to stop the trafficking of diamonds. Several steps must be taken to strengthen the Kimberley Process and change government policies within the DRC in order to stabilize the economy and end the civil war.
History of conflict in the Congo
The DRC’s current unstable government can be attributed mainly to its turbulent history. Since the late 1800’s the Congo region has experienced relatively few periods of peace and economic stability. Colonization severely hindered the future development of the Congo region. In the late 1870’s, King Leopold II of Belgium colonized the Congo territory. Treaties were signed with several tribal rulers in the territory, giving the King Leopold sovereignty in their areas. In 1885, the territory formally became the Congo Free State, headed by King Leopold. Because Leopold did not have sufficient funds to support his endeavors, he gave Belgium the right to annex the Congo in exchange for funds. The exploitations of the land began when King Leopold declared all unoccupied land owned by the state. This move gave him exclusive rights to the lucrative trade in rubber and ivory. Soon afterwards, private companies were formed to exploit the natural mineral wealth of the Congo. Along with the exploitation of the land, the people were forced into slave labor. Natives were brutally forced to collect rubber and mine for minerals. Under the agreement with King Leopold, Belgium annexed the Congo in 1908. Under Belgian rule forced labor was gradually phased out. However, the Congo was still perceived by the Belgian government as merely an economic investment. Very few if any initiatives were established in order to promote the economic development of sectors important to the welfare of the native people. The economic developments that were initiated were directly related to the exploitation of the land. Railroads and other forms of transportation were developed in order to increase the profits of the Belgian government. Plantations and large mining...