GoJIL Vol. 3, No. 1 (2011)
Regulating Information Flows, Regulating Conflict: An Analysis of United States Conflict Minerals Legislation
Christiana Ochoa, Patrick J. Keenan
The focus of this paper is the connection between conflict and commercial activity. In particular, it focuses on the ongoing conflict in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that is funded, in large part, by the sale of conflict commodities – minerals, metals, and petroleum – that fund violent groups at their source and then enters legitimate markets and products around the world. Recently, attention has turned to how to regulate conflict commerce as a tool for divesting from violent conflict. In the United States, for example, the recently adopted Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act includes a provision addressing conflict minerals originating from this region. The violent and secretive nature of conflict minerals transactions makes crafting effective regulation and policing strategies challenging. As a result the Dodd-Frank Act, like other domestic and international efforts, is designed in large part to discover, gather and disseminate information about the nature and scale of conflict commodities emanating from the DRC. This paper analyzes this legislation while also discussing a number of other current conflict commerce governance efforts. It observes the difficulty of regulating in the context of conflict and corruption and analyses the use of regulation as a tool for information-extraction, information-forcing and information-dissemination as opposed to its use as a tool for directly proscribing undesirable behavior.
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