Broadly defined, conflict minerals are any minerals illegally mined and sold as a means to finance conflict. Correspondingly, conflict mineral regulation refers to initiatives by individual governments, multi-lateral institutions or non-state actors (including businesses and NGOs) to degrade the ability of rebel groups to use illegally mined minerals as a means to generate finance.
Following the early success of the Kimberley Process, several new conflict mineral initiatives have been established to prevent illicit minerals trade from fuelling conflict. Although the ongoing conflict in the Great Lakes Region has driven the recent large-scale conflict mineral initiatives, it is now widely accepted that these could be deployed in other geographies. There is also now increasing pressure from civil society, multilateral and government institutions to broaden the scope of conflict mineral norms to include measures to deal with in-country human rights abuses. This will likely impact directly on ECOWAS states that have internal security and human rights issues in the medium to longer term.