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Congo's Illicit Trade in Conflict Minerals

The State Department continues to focus a great deal of attention on the plight of residents in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a region that has been subject to a long-running war and severe injustice.

Last week, I delivered remarks at a panel highlighting one aspect of the U.S. government's commitment to helping the DRC. My talk covered our efforts to end the trade in conflict minerals in eastern Congo, a trade that has helped fuel the long-running conflict to continue and that has led to near slavery conditions for many of the workers there. The non-governmental organization ENOUGH Co-Founder, John Prendergast, moderated the event, and it featured a panel which included: Representative Jim McDermott (D-Washington), author of the Conflict Minerals Trade Act; Dr. Faida M. Mitifu, DRC Ambassador to the United States; and David Sullivan, Policy Manager of the Enough Project.

The event provided a good opportunity to highlight the Department's efforts to stem the flow of illicit minerals, promote legitimate trade, and protect those living in artisanal mining communities.

Of late, this issue has been receiving a lot of attention, partly because today is Congo's 50th anniversary of independence. I'm sure many of you read Nicholas Kristof's recent piece, Death by Gadget, in the New York Times. Our goal is to raise the level of awareness about the human cost of this illicit trade and to mobilize a series of measures to stop it and the war it helps to support.

Bringing an end to this war is one of the great moral issues of our time. Secretary Clinton, along with others in the State Department and colleagues throughout our government, feel strongly about the need to address it urgently -- working with the business community, the government of the DRC, other governments, NGOs, and multilateral institutions.

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