ICGLR Regional Certification Mechanism for Conflict Minerals

The illegal exploitation of mineral resources had long been identified by UN Experts, international NGOs and governments in the region and abroad as one of the principle drivers and funding mechanisms of the ongoing conflict in the eastern DR Congo.  What was less clear was how to deal with the problem. With illegal mineral flows crossing borders, the challenge was clearly regional.  Fortunately, previous work among the 11 member states of the Central African ICGLR (International Conference of the Great Lakes Region) had given the ICGLR and their member states the legal framework they needed to address the problem of illegal resource exploitation and conflict minerals. What was missing was the practical knowledge of mineral certification, and how it could be made to work in the African Great Lakes context.

Beginning in early 2010, PAC undertook wide-ranging research in the region, consulting with government, mineral buyers and exporters, miners, NGOs and others to determine what was practical, what kind of oversight local stakeholders would accept, and what level of scrutiny the international marketplace would require.  The result of this in-depth field research was a detailed proposal for a Regional Certification Mechanism for the four so-called conflict minerals (tin, tungsten, tantalum, gold), encompassing all 11 nations of the ICGLR region and addressed at ending the connection between minerals and conflict.  The proposal drew on PAC’s deep engagement with the Kimberley Process for diamonds, and outlined  a certification that was practical, rigorous and addressed to the problems of human rights and conflict financing

The quality of this work can be judged by the speed of its adoption: within 4 months of its first presentation the Regional Certification Mechanism had been endorsed by the Steering Committee of the ICGLR; within a year, the RCM had been adopted by the 11 heads of state of the ICGLR at an extraordinary Special Summit.   

The research and policy phases complete, PAC has since worked on the challenge of implementation, cooperating closely with industry, civil society and governments in the region (notably the DRC and Rwanda).  PAC helped integrate the RCM into the evolving Due Diligence framework developed

under the auspices of the OECD. PAC  helped Rwanda adapt its domestic legislation, and advised the governments of Rwanda and DRC on how to set up certification units, and trained the government personnel who staff them. PAC has worked with miners and exporters to establish transparent, traceable and conflict-free mineral chains. PAC has helped train local civil society organisations on how to take an active and informed role in monitoring the conditions under which minerals are extracted and exported.

All these efforts will come to fruition in October 2013, when both the DR Congo and Rwanda are expected to issue their first Certificates and thus officially launch the RCM.

The launch of  Certified conflict-free mineral shipments, little more than three years after PAC’s initial policy paper,  shows the truly remarkable progress that is possible when good research leads to sound ideas that are competently executed. That said, much remains to be done.   

ICGRL Regional Certification Mechanism for Conflict Minerals

Acknowledging the impact of the illegal exploitation of minerals on the ongoing social and political crises in the Region, the Heads of State of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) have committed to concretely act through the Regional Initiative against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources (RINR).

The RINR is comprised of six tools:

  1. A regional mineral tracking and certification scheme.
  2. The harmonisation of mining legislation in the 11 member states.
  3. The creation of a database to track the trade in minerals in the region.
  4. The formalization of artisanal and small-scale mining.
  5. The establishment of a whistleblowing mechanism.
  6. The promotion of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI).


These efforts focus on four minerals that have been selected for their conflict sensitivity: tin, tantalum, tungsten (referred to as the 3 Ts) and gold. These are the same four minerals designated as ‘Conflict Minerals’ under the US Dodd-Frank act, and the same four minerals covered by the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas.

The ICGLR sets the standards for certifying conflict-prone minerals in the Great Lakes region. These are fully compliant with the OECD Guidance. As the overall, regional umbrella, the ICGLR’s standards and procedures are harmonized with existing certified trading schemes and have accommodated traceability schemes such as ITRI’s Tin Supply Chain Initiative (iTSCi).

Central to the ICGLR’s Regional Certification Mechanism are transparency, and verification and monitoring processes that consist of third-party audits and an overarching Mineral Chain Auditor. Together, these provide rigorous and independent oversight of the system and enable industry to meet its requirements under the Dodd-Frank legislation.

The ICGLR has been recognized by the G8 as a key body and instrument for tackling the illegal exploitation of, and trade in, natural resources in Africa. In July 2011, the US State Department publically acknowledged and encouraged the efforts of the ICGLR and its eleven member states.

PAC was invited by the ICGLR to act as an advisor in 2005 and has since played a vital capacity building role for the institution in its efforts to tackle the illegal mineral trade. In April 2010, PAC presented detailed recommendations to the ICGLR for the creation of a regional certification mechanism for the targeted high-value minerals – coltan, cassiterite, wolframite and gold. PAC’s proposals were accepted by the ICGLR and have now become the foundation for the RCM which was launched and endorsed by the ICGLR Heads of State at a special summit in Lusaka in December 2010. 

Since the launch of the RCM, PAC’s support to the ICGLR has been multifaceted, and has included: Developing the ICGLR mineral tracking database and facilitating data collection in-region; Facilitating technical capacity and training for the ICGLR Secretariat, ensuring sustainability of the RCM; Advising on the development of the ICGLR’s Independent Mineral Chain Auditor; Providing direct support to ICGLR Member States to meet certification requirements.



The conflicts and tragedies in the Great Lakes region led the United Nations Security Council, through its resolutions 1291 and 1304, to call for an International Conference on Peace, Security, Democracy and Development in the Great Lakes Region.

The ICGLR is a process which seeks to bring all the countries of the region together to dialogue and agree on strategies to bring peace and prosperity to the region. It groups eleven core countries: Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. South Sudan, which won independence in 2011, is currently in the process of becoming a member.

In November 2004, the eleven Heads of State and Government of the member countries of the ICGLR unanimously adopted the Dar es Salaam Declaration on Peace, Security and Development in the Great Lakes Region. In this Declaration, they announced their collective determination to transform the Great Lakes Region into a space of sustainable peace and security for states and peoples, political and social stability, shared growth and development.

In December 2006, the Heads of State and Government convened again in Nairobi to sign a Pact on Security, Stability and Development. This important political agreement came into force in 2008.