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11 Letters from Congolese Civil Society Groups in Support of the U.S. Conflict Minerals Law
Note: This blog was compiled by the Enough Project's Sasha Lezhnev, Rachel Finn, and Annie Callaway.
In early 2017, in response to a possible suspension of the Conflict Minerals Rule for Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank law, numerous companies, investors, activists, NGOs, and others have come out publicly in support of the Rule. Several of these have come in the form of letters to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in response to a call for comments on the Conflict Minerals Rule from Acting Chairman of the SEC, Michael Piwowar.
In recent weeks, human rights groups and civil society members based in eastern Congo and the region issued 11 different letters, representing 111 organizations in total. Below are excerpts from the letters, issued by some of those most affected by the conflict in Congo.
Thematic Working Group on Mining and Natural Resources
31 civil society groups in South Kivu
"Dodd-Frank... led to a positive change:
- cut off from the illegal extraction of minerals, which was a major source of funding, armed groups are significantly less active. In the east of the DRC, around 8,500 children left armed groups between 2009 and 2015.
- the suspension of some high-level military officers in South Kivu due to their likely involvement in the illegal extraction of minerals. ...
Any step to suspend Section 1502 would undoubtedly lead to conflict minerals infiltrating the supply chain with devastating effects. Namely, the reactivation of armed groups and the feeding of terrorist and mafia networks..."
Open Letter from Congolese Civil Society Organisations
13 human rights groups in North Kivu
"The introduction of the Dodd-Frank Act was a way of reducing the number of violent acts committed by these warlords and enabled the suspension of illegal arms sales; sales which had facilitated the proliferation of unauthorised weapons in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mr. President, we wish to most expressly assure you that if you decide to call into question the Dodd-Frank Act, this will once again lend legitimacy to the presence and proliferation of armed groups in the east of the DRC, something which Congolese civil society condemns in the strongest terms. Therefore, we kindly request that you reconsider your decision in this regard before the situation in the DRC degenerates into a humanitarian and economic crisis. Repealing this Act risks causing a new regional conflict, which would in turn destabilise the cohesion that currently exists between the Democratic Republic of Congo and its neighbours Rwanda and Uganda who seek only to infiltrate the east of the country and illegally extract its minerals."
Congolese Civil Society Organizations leading the Natural Resources Cluster
41 civil society groups in North Kivu
“Thanks to the Dodd-Frank Act, Eastern DRC has to date more than 220 certified green mining sites, more than 300 mining police officers trained and deployed to secure mining sites,an independent audit mechanism, and a regional certification system. These advances undoubtedly contribute to reducing the rate of crime and human rights violations, including rape of women and exploitation of children in mining areas. All these efforts and progress will be destroyed if the US Government decides to contradict itself by repealing the Dodd-Frank Act.”
Congolese civil society leader and activist working in the mining areas of North Kivu, and winner of the Human Rights First 2016 Roger Baldwin Medal of Liberty
“As a native of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), I have seen first-hand what things are like on the ground – gang-rape, modern child slavery and other flagrant human rights violations on a massive scale, affecting scores of victims, especially in eastern DRC. Some people may not understand how a U.S. law related to corporate supply chain sourcing practices could help stop this horrific, decades-long conflict. However, I am writing to explain how the Dodd-Frank Act has done much to reduce violence in my country. It is one of the main reasons why armed groups no longer wield the power they once enjoyed.”
Jamal Usseni Jamael
Coordinator, Save Acts Mine, Goma
"The suspension of section 1502 of the dodd frank act will have negative consequences for millions of human beings in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. If the decree of President Trump is officialized the rebel groups will find the means to finance the war. They will kill the children, they will rape the women. They will destroy all hope for the Congolese people to live in peace on their territory. Our hope rests on the American people to help us so that section 1502 of law dodd frank is not suspended."
“...we would like to thank U.S. Senators for bringing into law Section 1502 which is worth its weight in gold. It should be supported by all in the U.S. Senate as the maintenance of Section 1502 will support democracy and peace in developing countries. To repeal the law would be to light a fire under progress already made in the ground in eastern DRC and in the African Great Lakes region, which are victims of bad governance of natural resources.”
Southern Africa Resource Watch
12 civil society groups based in Congo and the Great Lakes region
"The Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) and its civil society partners in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are very concerned that the suspension of the conflict minerals rule promulgated by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) pursuant to Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act will negatively impact peace, stability and development in the DRC, and the Great Lakes region....The Dodd-Frank Act has had enormous positive effects. Dodd-Frank has contributed significantly to reducing the influence of the armed groups in eastern DRC, which have been using the illegal exploitation of mineral resources to fund their violent activities for years."
Save Acts Mine
Goma, North Kivu
"It can also be safely argued that it is thanks to the [Dodd-Frank Act] that the exploitation of the 3Ts in the eastern DRC is becoming increasingly responsible through the implementation of the mechanisms of Traceability of minerals, due diligence and certification of origin of ores... If one blames the fact that compliance with the requirements of the DFA causes additional expenses to US companies, we must conclude that its suspension will allow US companies to win billions more dollars for the blood of millions of people Humans?"
"We have decided as follows:
- Abolishing this Act will facilitate the proliferation of armed groups.
- Killings will increase as a consequence of the presence of armed groups.
- Human-rights violations will occur in high numbers, especially within the communities living in the vicinity of the mining sites.
- The community benefiting from the basket development fund will lose out as the minerals will leave the country via all sorts of paths (neighbouring countries)"
Coalition of Anti-Slavery Civil Society Organizations (COSCAE)
11 Congolese civil society organizations headquartered in Goma, North Kivu
"All the Congolese communities and specifically those of the mining areas of the Kivus already enjoyed certain advantages offered by this law including:
- Reduction in mining-related crimes. The activism of the armed groups in the mining sites decreased significantly, so did their ability to do harm;
- Consequently the children used by armed groups have left in mass mining sites;
- Only qualified and approved sites have official authorization to operate;
- The responsible sourcing of minerals from the DRC (trace minerals) prohibiting the exploitation and marketing of minerals by the DRC Armed Forces of the armed groups;
- Minerals produced in the eastern DRC are declared peace minerals or conflict-free minerals;
- The Congolese State already has the ability to control the financial flows from taxes and regular taxes on minerals;
- Opportunities that mining companies should be accountable to local communities by contributing to their development plans."
Goma, North Kivu
"Consequences if the Dodd Frank law is suspended
- [S]uspending the Dodd Frank law is not useful given its significant contribution to the regulation of the mining sector in eastern DRC, most notably in the Great Lakes Region.
- The explicit repeal of this law is an implicit endorsement of the hotbeds of conflict in the world, in Africa and particularly in the African Great Lakes Region.
- The repeal of this law will give the armed groups chance to become more active in North Kivu and in the instability in the Great Lakes Region and will provide FARDC officers with the opportunity to become further involved in the illicit trade of minerals."