Stanford University First to Adopt Policy on Conflict Minerals

Panning for gold - SLezhnev

This post originally appeared on's Human Rights blog.

Student activism tends to drop off in the summertime as college campuses clear out. But students at Stanford University just claimed a major victory, convincing their school to be the first to adopt a policy combating the trade in conflict minerals from Congo.

The trade in minerals from eastern Congo is increasingly on the radar of student activists, members of Congress, tech companies, and concerned consumers, because the $180 million annual trade helps fund armed groups embroiled in a decade-long conflict that has left over 5 million people dead. Rampant sexual violence is a particularly tragic feature of the war in eastern Congo; hundreds of thousands of women and girls have been raped. The minerals fueling this conflict end up in electronics products such as cell phones, laptops, MP3 players, and digital cameras, connecting consumers even far removed from Congo to the conflict there.

After many months of advocacy from Stanford’s STAND group, the university’s Board of Trustees voted to adopt a policy of voting “yes” if a company Stanford invests in faces a shareholder resolution calling for that company to trace its mineral supply chain.

As rising junior and incoming STAND President Mia Newman noted, “The proxy voting guideline — a rather complex activism tool that doesn’t easily lend itself to sound bites or slogans — nevertheless represents a powerful statement by the university.”

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