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United Nations Whitewashes Canadian Mining Companies Operating in Democratic Republic of Congo

Jamie Kneen Communications and Outreach Coordinator responsible for: strategic research, social media, and public engagement; our Africa program, environmental assessment, and uranium mining.

In October 2000, a UN Panel of Experts released a report on violence in the Congo, in which they called eight Canadian mining companies to account for commercial activities that were contributing to conflict in that war-torn country. It is estimated that 3 to 5 million people have died in the Congo in recent years due to the war.

The companies responded indignantly to the charges and were able - through the Canadian government - to influence a second panel on the subject. Although many of the Panel's findings were strong, it sorted companies into categories which absolved seven of the eight Canadian companies. This panel did not re-examine any of the original evidence against these companies, but took companies off the list if they met one of the following five criteria:

  • A company could admit its behaviour was "inappropriate" and undertake to change its behaviour within a given period.
  • They could agree to be more transparent in their dealings in the Congo, or
  • They could show that they were no longer doing business in the Congo, or
  • They could persuade the panel that it was not directly funding activities contributing to the conflict, or
  • They could fire the corrupt former politicians and government officials they had hired as "consultants".

Based on these flimsy criteria, the Canadian government says it will not look into the companies' conduct further.