Skip to main content

Democratic Republic of Congo: Natural Resources

Volume 493: debated on Monday 1 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the effect on the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo of the exploitation of and trade in minerals in that country; and if he will make a statement. (276704)

Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) natural resources have the potential to bring prosperity to the country and help improve the quality of life for people living there through better revenue collection and the creation of wealth and jobs. However, a proportion of those resources are controlled by militias and ill-disciplined members of the DRC armed forces who commit many of the abuses suffered by civilians and who fund themselves, in part, by trading minerals. This is one of a range of factors contributing to the poor standard of human rights in DRC. Better regulatory control over the trade in minerals from DRC and effective measures to discourage transactions which benefit militia groups there, will help improve the human rights situation. We are already working with our partners across Whitehall and internationally to identify ways of achieving this.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on proposed further investigations by the UN Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of Congo of the exploitation of natural resources to finance armed groups in that country. (276731)

We strongly support the continued work of the UN Group of Experts. The arms embargo and sanctions regime in place in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are a necessary part of the effort to isolate illegal armed groups, limit the support they receive and reduce the threat they pose to civilians in DRC. The work of the Group of Experts is essential to monitor compliance with the terms of the embargo. Individuals and entities who support illegal militias in eastern DRC through illicit trade in natural resources may now be made subject to sanctions. It is appropriate that the UN Group of Experts should devote some of their effort to investigating such cases.