Publication Date



Helms School of Government


International Relations


Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC, eastern Congo, eastern DRC, conflict minerals, 3T minerals, 3TG minerals, conflict gold, Section 1502, iTSCi, certification mechanism, due diligence, traceability scheme


Development Studies | Peace and Conflict Studies | Political Economy


The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the poorest and most troubled nations in the world. With a convoluted and often tragic history, a significant cause of economic underdevelopment and political instability in the Congo has been the illicit expropriation of the country’s vast reserves of high-value minerals. In the early 2010s, Congress attempted to address the “conflict minerals” dilemma through the enactment of Section 1502 of the Dodd Frank Act. The conflict minerals rule aimed to break the supposed link between the illegal exploitation of minerals and the perpetuation of violence. Drawing upon books, journal articles, research reports, quantitative studies, and public documents, this thesis argues that while the implementation of Section 1502 coincided with the reduced presence of armed groups around 3TG mines, the regulatory model put forth under Section 1502, for better or for worse, has transformed the 3TG sector through (1) a shift in armed groups’ behavior; (2) the increased presence of the Congolese national army (FARDC) in mining areas; (3) the intensification of the unregulated gold trade; and (4) state-led formalization and monopolization.