A Critical Analysis of Human Rights Due Diligence Processes in Mineral Supply Chains: Conflict Minerals in the DRC

This paper seeks to examine the challenges in developing and applying human rights due diligence processes in the mineral supply chains in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The DRC, and particularly its eastern region, is endowed with valuable minerals such as tantalite, tin, tungsten and gold. These minerals have wide-ranging applications for which there has been growing demand since the 1990s, as high-tech consumer electronics such as mobile phones have become widely available.The eastern DRC has been plagued by violent conflict and insecurity since 1996, and the situation is regarded as one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. The paper is structured in four parts. The first section provides a brief outline of the development of the human rights due diligence concept. The second gives a synopsis of six emerging initiatives that seek to facilitate human rights due diligence in order to curb the trade in conflict minerals. The third examines the current debates on these initiatives and the local operational environment in which they are implemented, while the fourth reviews local perspectives on conflict minerals and highlights the missing voices in discussions on how the conflict minerals issue should be addressed through human rights due diligence processes.