Research / BFI Working PaperNov 08, 2023

Nothing Gold Can Stay: Artisanal Mine Certifications and Conflict Dynamics in the Congo

Samuel Chang, Hans Christensen

We examine how conflict-free certifications for artisanal mines—used to comply with provision 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act—affect conflict dynamics in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Certifications are associated with a 9.4% (16.3%) reduction in armed group–initiated conflicts (fatalities) within a 10-kilometer radius of gold mines. After certifications, there is no aggregate reduction in conflict intensity in Eastern DRC territories, but conflicts intensify further away from certified mines, consistent with certifications displacing, not reducing, conflicts. These findings caution that, rather than being relied on as an exclusive solution, certification programs must be part of a concerted effort toward resolving complex geopolitical challenges, such as the humanitarian crisis in the DRC.