Sasha Lezhnev's blog

Sasha Lezhnev is team leader of the D.R. Congo, Great Lakes Region, and Lord's Resistance Army team at the Enough Project, where he focuses on peace process and conflict minerals issues. He is also Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Grassroots Reconciliation Group, an organization that helps former child soldiers in Uganda. Previously, Sasha worked as Policy Adviser at Global Witness on U.S. conflict resources and energy policy. He worked for 2 1/2 years in Uganda as Senior Program Officer with the Northern Uganda Peace Initiative and peace process advisor to the northern Uganda mediator.

He is author of the book Crafting Peace: Strategies to Deal with Warlords in Collapsing States.  Sasha also previously worked with the International Crisis Group's Africa Program and the U.S. Institute of Peace.  He holds a Master's in International Relations from Cambridge University and a B.S. in Foreign Service magna cum laude from Georgetown University.

Photo: Woodrow Wilson Center

Apple makes progress on conflict minerals, should build on work in Congo

Three and a half years ago, Enough and Campus Progress (now known as Generation Progress) protested the opening of Apple’s  prestigious new store in Georgetown, Washington, DC because it was lagging behind other companies on combating the trade in conflict minerals from eastern Congo. Today, such a protest would be unnecessary. Apple released its annual Supplier Responsibility report yesterday, and the company is making some significant strides on conflict minerals.  Read More »

HP, Sandisk Publish the Names of Their Smelters, a Significant Step for Cleaner Supply Chains

Tin Ore

Four years ago, electronics companies gave us many excuses for why digging into their supply chains to find conflict minerals was too difficult. “This is too ambitious,” they said. “We have thousands of suppliers, how can we know our smelters?”   Read More »

Wall Street Journal Highlights Congo’s Conflict Gold Trade: U.S. Should Sanction Smugglers

Congolese miners

This morning the Wall Street Journal published an exposé on the conflict gold trade from eastern Congo, which is worth an estimated $285-400 million per year. The article details the lucrative trade in conflict gold as it is transported from mines in eastern Congo to smugglers in Uganda and Burundi and then to jewelers and dealers in Dubai and India. As the piece highlights, conflict gold is an increasingly important issue for jewelers and the gold industry, as there now exists a “shadowy chain of smuggled gold that stretches from the conflict zones of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the markets of Dubai and jewelry shops around the world.”  Read More »

CNN Op-ed: Congo's "Terminator" Surrenders, What Next for Peace?

Ntaganda during his first appearance before judges of the ICC.

On March 18, a Congolese warlord known as Bosco "the Terminator" Ntaganda surrendered to the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda.   Read More »

New MONUSCO Mandate Should Include Programs to Increase Defections, Combat Smuggling

In the coming days, the United Nations Security Council will be debating the mandate of the U.N. mission in Congo known as MONUSCO, the world’s largest peacekeeping force. Based on a recent trip to eastern Congo and conversations with U.N. peacekeepers themselves, here are three ideas that I would want my taxpayer dollars to go toward.  Read More »

Apple Makes New Pledges on Conflict Minerals, Should Begin Clean Congo Sourcing Program

Tech giant Apple has come a long way on conflict minerals. In 2010, they were one of the worst consumer electronics companies in their response to this serious problem, and Enough Project, Campus Progress, and A Thousand Sisters protested the opening of their store in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. But Apple has started to turn the corner on conflict minerals with some substantial steps.  Read More »

29 Smelters Go Conflict Free, More Help from Aerospace Companies Needed

Last week, the electronics industry updated its list of audited conflict-free smelters to 29. This is up from 11 smelters in the Conflict-Free Smelter program, or CFS, at the start of 2012—nearly tripling the size of the program over the past year.  Read More »

Obama Administration to Support Key Part of Fight Against Conflict Minerals: Independent Monitoring

The Obama administration announced last Thursday that it will support a critical missing link in the fight against conflict minerals: independent monitoring. This is a major step in the long fight against the illegal trade in conflict minerals.  Read More »

Global Post Op-ed: Next Steps You Can Take to Help Stop Joseph Kony

Kony 2012 - Global Post

In this op-ed for Global Post, I outline some steps people moved by "Kony 2012" can take to help end the Lord's Resistance Army.  Read More »

Congo Army Takes Over Key Mines, Now Must Hand Over to Police

The Congolese army captured two of the largest minerals mines in eastern Congo last week—the enormous Bisie tin mine and the Omate gold mine. If the objective is to enable conflict-free minerals from Congo to be sold in international markets, the Congolese government should ensure that the army hands these mines over to the mining police as soon as possible.  Read More »

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