Conflict Minerals – End to Accountability?
President Trump is considering an executive order that would suspend a ground-breaking 2010 transparency law on conflict minerals. Such a move would reward irresponsible business practices and seriously undermine global human rights protections. Amnesty International and others are decrying the move. Read more
As you do holiday shopping this year, consider the source of materials in the electronics you purchase. We can make a difference by buying from companies eliminating DRC conflict minerals from their supply chains. This company ranking graph can guide your consumer choices:
You can learn more about the long-standing conflict in the Eastern Congo, what "conflict minerals" are and where they show up in our consumer products. Check out resources from the highly-respected Enough Project.
Conflict Minerals Bill Update
We’re disappointed to report that the conflict minerals legislation that was introduced this past session in the Minnesota legislature has failed to pass into law. Senate bill SF 3064 and House bill HF 3213 would have prohibited MN state agencies from purchasing goods and services from companies that do not report on their sourcing of potential conflict minerals. Though these bills did not become law, they passed in committee in both the House and the Senate, a great feat on its own. For this, we owe deep gratitude to World Without Genocide for introducing these bills, Dr. Edwige Mubonzi for her passionate testimonies, and all of those constituents who contacted their legislators to support these bills.
Looking onward, we will evaluate this past session’s successes and shortcomings to improve our future strategy and ensure that conflict minerals legislation passes in the 2017 session. We will keep everyone posted throughout the year on ways to stay involved and how you can help during the process. A huge thank you to everyone for your continued support in this important work!
Conflict Minerals Bill at the MN Legislature
Legislation has been introduced this session in the Minnesota Legislature that would prohibit Minnesota agencies from procuring goods or services from companies that do not report on their sourcing of potential conflict minerals as required by federal Law. The Senate bill, SF 3064, was passed by the Senate State and Local Government Committee and referred to the Senate Floor. The House bill, HF 3213, was passed by the House Government Operations and Elections Policy Committee and then its language was added to the Omnibus health and human services, state government finance, and public safety policy and finance bill, which passed the full House. It is not clear what the next steps will be, but their are multiple paths for the language to become law and it has received bipartisan support in both chambers.
UPDATE: The full Senate is scheduled to vote on SF 3064 this Thursday, May 12th. Stay posted for more information.
Dr. Edwige Mubonzi has given powerful testimony in front of both the House and Senate committees. You can listen to her here speaking in front of the House Committee (starts around 1 hour and 30 minutes). You can also read the text of her testimony here. The power and emotion of Dr. Mubonzi's testimony has been key in garnering support for these bills.
World Without Genocide is the organization that got these bills introduced. You can find out more about this and other conflict free initiatives they are engaged in here.
What are Conflict Minerals?
The Democratic Republic of the Congo may seem far away, but if you reach into your pocket you probably have a piece of the Congo right there with you. Your cell phone, computer, and hearing aids (the list goes on and on) are all made using the mineral Coltan. Eighty percent of the world's supply of coltan in found in the DRC. The value of this mineral mixed with its abundance in the DRC and the weakness of the DRC's central government have created an environment in which militias fight over control of mines, rape women as a tool to control populations, and force children to work in mines.
An artisanal gold mine in the DRC
Coltan is just one of four conflict minerals identified in the DRC, the other three are tin, tungsten, and gold. Rather than enrich the population, the abundance of these resources in the DRC has led to conflict, turmoil, and poverty. At the same time, we all profit from the use of these minerals in our everyday lives. However, our purchases do not need to support the conflict in the DRC. There are laws in place, and initiatives taken by some large company that aim to track minerals from their source of production in order to ensure that they are conflict-free (see sidebar). So buy conflict-free and support these initiatives!
But there is still much work to be done to stop the lucrative trade of conflict minerals. In 2010 the U.S. passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which contained a section requiring companies to report where they sourced their tin, tungsten, tantalum (coltan) and gold from. Though this law has had an impact, companies have found it difficult or been slow to comply. In last years filings, out of more that 1,200 companies, only 24% were in full compliance with the law. But we can have an influence by voting with our dollars to reward companies that have made the best efforts to be conflict free, and we can encourage our friends, communities, schools, companies, cities, and states to commit to buying conflict free.
One of the greatest tragedies that has come of the conflict in the DRC is the silence of the rest of the world. If you have been shocked by what you have learned about the DRC on this website, at one of our presentations, or elsewhere, then tell a friend. Tell all of your friends and tell all of them to tell all of their friends. The first step to action is awareness, and action is the key to change!
Interested in getting involved in our advocacy work? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, contact info, and interests and we’ll be in touch!