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Sanctions On Congo Rebels Still Needed

United Nations peacekeepers patrol near their encampment in the village of Kimua in the east of DRC.

Rich in natural resources, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is rich in violence as well.

Rich in natural resources, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is rich in violence as well. Covering an area larger than Western Europe or Southeast Asia, its vast spaces are a challenge both to govern and police. Instability is rife in eastern and northeastern parts of the country, where armed groups conduct military operations against each other while also committing atrocities against civilians. Some undisciplined government troops also contribute to the region's insecurity.

Since the end of the Second Congo War in 2003, the United Nations has imposed several measures to check the persistent violence. The world body has banned arms sales to armed groups and militias in the country, and it has imposed sanctions against individuals linked to the conflict. These men have supported illegal armed groups by illicitly mining and selling the region's natural resources, obstructing humanitarian assistance, and other violations of international law. Those listed for the targeted sanctions are subject to an international travel ban and asset freeze.

Given the ongoing turmoil in the DRC, the UN Security Council recently renewed the targeted sanctions and arms embargo, an action that the United States wholeheartedly supports. This action can play an important role in bringing stability to the DRC by stigmatizing and isolating those who lead armed rebel groups or commit atrocities.

But the world body did not stop there. It supported so-called "due diligence" guidelines to require importers and companies to conduct background checks on Congolese minerals they import, process or otherwise make use of. The United States Congress took similar action this summer, requiring certain companies to report to federal regulators on their due diligence efforts in this area. Adhering to these guidelines could significantly limit the illicit minerals trade that has for many years fueled violence in the DRC.

The United States will continue to support targeted sanctions against those whose behavior undermines peace and stability in this important part of the world. We will also continue to work in partnership with the DRC government and the international community to address the many obstacles that remain.