On August 27, Ohio University’s Bobcats for a Conflict-free Campus claimed a victory two years in the making, becoming the 12th U.S. school to pledge a commitment to giving preference to conflict-free electronics products. Student leaders Ellie Hamrick and Jack Spicer wrote this guest blog post about strategies they used to advocate for the university to take a stand. Read More »
As documented in a new report from the Enough Project, which ranks electronics firms on their progress in cleaning up their supply chains of conflict minerals, there are glimmers of hope for eastern Congo despite ongoing violence there, which is driven partly by conflict minerals. When we visited Congo late last year, we met activist Amani Matabaro when we first arrived in Bukavu, South Kivu province. His story, his work, and his passion were featured as part of Raise Hope for Congo's video series "I Am Congo." Read More »
The widespread nature of violence in eastern Congo today is often described as being the result of a security vacuum: The attention of the Congolese army and the U.N. peacekeepers is focused on M23, leaving other parts of the volatile region vulnerable to local armed groups. This is surely part of the story. But there is also reason to believe that these local militias are receiving backing from outside actors. Read More »
WASHINGTON – On August 22, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, voted to adopt conflict minerals regulations for section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. Following the vote, the Enough Project analyzed the 356-page text and published a new policy brief that summarizes reporting requirements for companies, and outlines key implications for the advocacy community.
Over the next four years, hundreds of companies that file annual reports with the SEC will have to exercise due diligence on the source and chain of custody of the minerals in its products. These regulations are designed to help reduce the trade of conflict minerals, which has been a major funding source for armed groups in eastern Congo.
Many companies will have to comply with the law, but how they comply will depend in part on how narrowly or expansively companies and the SEC interpret the final rule, and how effective non-governmental organizations, faith-based groups, and other human rights advocates are at monitoring compliance.
"While the final rule is not perfect, it moves the conversation forward,” said Darren Fenwick, author of the brief and Enough Project Senior Manager of Government Affairs. “ The rule gets companies that use conflict minerals to report, and gives actors that care about this issue and want to invest in Congo, like Intel, Motorola, KEMET and HP, the terms by which to operate. The Enough Project will continue to laud companies working to eliminate the trade in conflict minerals, and bring to the attention of the SEC and the public companies who are not.”
According to the brief, two of the major compliance concerns that advocates will closely monitor are whether companies that should file section 1502 specialized disclosures actually do, and whether each companies’ minerals country of origin inquiry produces a conclusive result. Due diligence is only triggered when a company knows or has reason to believe its minerals came from Congo or neighboring countries. Companies may perceive an incentive to conduct a country of origin inquiry that produces inconclusive results, believing they would not have to conduct due diligence in such a case. Advocates will need to monitor good faith compliance in the conduct of these inquiries.
“Section 1502 was never intended to address all of Congo’s ills, but was designed to deal with an immediate humanitarian crisis and create the space for needed reform,” said John C. Bradshaw, Executive Director of the Enough Project. “Section 1502 applies U.S. leverage to reduce the ability of armed groups to operate in eastern Congo, opening up the door to much-needed security sector and justice system reform, as well as sustained economic development.”
The policy brief is the first of a series of Enough Project briefs on the implementation of section 1502.
Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, the Enough Project focuses on crises in Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas of Africa affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a “3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. For more information, please visit www.enoughproject.org.
On August 22, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, adopted regulations for Section 1502, the provision of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law that deals with conflict minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo, or DRC. The trade in these minerals fuels a conflict that continues to cause suffering among the people of eastern Congo.
In the fall of 2008, I met for the first time with my local member of Congress, Representative Spencer Bachus of Alabama. As a sophomore at Samford University, I was nervous and far from an expert on the topic of discussion: transparency of companies in the extractive industries. Little did I know, after four years of advocacy efforts with activists across the country that I would be sitting in the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, last Wednesday to hear the commissioners release and implement two monumental rules from the 2010 Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act. Read More »