Date of Graduation

Spring 5-18-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)


College of Arts and Sciences


International Studies

First Advisor

Jeffrey Paller

Second Advisor

Brian Dowd-Uribe


Conflict surrounding the extraction and trade of natural resources is not an uncommon phenomenon. Especially in the case of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has historically suffered from the negative impacts of the resource curse since their mineral wealth was first discovered by their Colonial administrators. The importance of Congo’s minerals has fluctuated over the years but has peaked during recent times, as their use in technological advancements are becoming more vital. The global demand for these mineral ores have sky rocketed and consequentially, the largely informal trade has benefitted certain rebel groups, playing a pivotal role in the ongoing violence of Africa’s War. Despite the heightened media attention on the region, the development and enforcement of new international regulations and the creation of industry-led initiatives employed to break the tie between minerals and armed conflict in the DRC, violence is still prevalent. This thesis attempts to understand why this is, arguing that the dominant Western narrative on conflict minerals and its links to the ongoing violence is limited, as it neglects the historical context of the onset of the fighting, as well as the voice of local miners and grassroots organisations in formalisation efforts. I argue that this simplistic account and understanding of the conflict, has impeded current efforts as it overlooks and fails to solve the fundamental and underlying causes of Congo’s conflict.