For the past decade, the Eastern Congo has played host to the deadliest conflict since World War II, causing over 5.4 million deaths since 1998 and by 2008 still inducing 45,000 deaths per month. The violence is brutal, with militias and the army regularly targeting civilians and with all parties using of rape as a tool of war. Much of this violence stems from a struggle between the main actors for control of territory, resources, and mines. Congo’s lucrative mineral resources, including tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold, have been shown to directly fuel the cycle of violence in region. Not only do the militias use money from illicit mines to buy more arms, but the control of mines has become the very reason that some militias fight. These minerals eventually make their way to the West in consumer electronics such as laptops and phones.
From April 8-10, Stanford will host a national conference on conflict minerals, the Congo, and campus organizing. The conference will include one day of public lectures and panels on topics including the background of the conflict in the Eastern Congo, rape as a tool of war, and the media's role in American public perceptions. The second day will be private to students who RSVP and will include training, workshops, and networking events on campus organizing, the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative, and how American universities can affect conflicts occurring thousands of miles away.