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Resource Cursed or Policy Cursed? US Regulation of Conflict Minerals and Violence in the Congo

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  • Dominic P. Parker
  • Bryan Vadheim

Abstract

There is widespread belief that civil conflict in poorly governed countries is triggered by surging international demand for their natural resources. We study the consequences of US legislation grounded in this belief, the "conflict minerals" section of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. Targeting the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, it cuts funding to warlords by discouraging manufacturers from sourcing tin, tungsten, and tantalum from the region. Building from Mancur Olson's stationary bandit metaphor, we describe some channels through which the legislation could backfire, inciting violence. Using georeferenced data, we find the legislation increased looting of civilians and shifted militia battles toward unregulated gold-mining territories. These findings are a cautionary tale about the possible unintended consequences of imposing boycotts, trade embargoes, and resource certification schemes on war-torn regions.

Suggested Citation

  • Dominic P. Parker & Bryan Vadheim, 2017. "Resource Cursed or Policy Cursed? US Regulation of Conflict Minerals and Violence in the Congo," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(1), pages 1-49.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jaerec:doi:10.1086/689865
    DOI: 10.1086/689865
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    Cited by:

    1. Schütte, Philip, 2019. "International mineral trade on the background of due diligence regulation: A case study of tantalum and tin supply chains from East and Central Africa," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 674-689.
    2. Bloem, Jeffrey, 2018. "Good Intentions Gone Bad? The Dodd-Frank Act and Conflict in Africa's Great Lakes Region," 2018 Annual Meeting, August 5-7, Washington, D.C. 274254, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    3. Julika Herzberg & Oliver Lorz, 2018. "Sourcing from Conflict Regions: Policies to Improve Transparency in International Supply Chains," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201838, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    4. Stoop, Nik & Verpoorten, Marijke & van der Windt, Peter, 2019. "Artisanal or industrial conflict minerals? Evidence from Eastern Congo," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 660-674.
    5. Matata Ponyo Mapon & Jean-Paul K. Tsasa, 2019. "The artefact of the Natural Resources Curse," Papers 1911.09681, arXiv.org.
    6. Dominic P. Parker & Jeremy D. Foltz & David Elsea, 2016. "Unintended consequences of economic sanctions for human rights: Conflict minerals and infant mortality in the Democratic Republic of the Congo," WIDER Working Paper Series 124, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

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