Assistant Professor of Government Laura Seay recently commented on the effects of a section of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill that requires companies buying minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo to certify whether or not those minerals are financing armed groups. The intent was to mitigate the atrocities those groups commit, but according to Seay and others, there have been unintended consequences. Many companies simply stopped buying from the DRC, and traceability plans to help miners show their minerals are conflict-free have led to monopoly dynamics, Seay said.

Seay also commented that despite good intentions, expecting one U.S. law to end Congolese conflict is “reductionist and leaves out important dimensions of the crisis. … According to the U.N., only eight percent of conflicts are over resource conflicts—fighting over control of a mine to have access to particular mineral resources—but that means the other ninety-two percent of conflicts are not about minerals” but rather about identity, ethnicity, and money.

Many of those conflicts were funded by minerals in the past, but, Seay said, “in a wartime economy, everything looks like a source of revenue. … If one source goes away, that doesn’t have an effect on the violence because the armed groups continue to finance their activities through a wide variety of means.”