Well before the United Nations Group of Experts released its interim report on the current situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on June 21, it had created a massive stir. Details of the investigation had been leaked, revealing that evidence had been found linking the Rwandan government to the infamous March 23 Movement, or M23. Read More »
The following is an interview with Jacques Bahati of Africa Faith and Justice Network, who is originally from Goma in eastern Congo, and Aaron Hall of the Enough Project. Together, they share stories of faith communities in eastern Congo and the leadership role these groups play in Congolese civil society. Read More »
Industry should follow the positive steps taken by Microsoft, General Electric (GE) and Motorola Solutions
WASHINGTON, DC and LONDON -- Human rights groups in the US and the UK are calling on leading electronics and automotive companies to make public statements against the position taken by the US Chamber of Commerce (the Chamber) on conflict minerals, or cut ties with the organization. The Chamber has made threats to overturn a key section of the Dodd-Frank Act designed to curb the deadly trade in conflict minerals from eastern Congo. The rights groups are calling on companies including Acer, AT&T, Canon, Dell, Ford, HP, IBM, Intel, Motorola Mobility, Panasonic, RIM (Blackberry), Verizon and Xerox to take this action.
The call comes in the weeks after Microsoft, General Electric and Motorola Solutions broke from the Chamber’s position, announcing they do not support its stance against Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which aims to break the link between the global trade in minerals and violence in eastern DRC.
“Human rights advocates applaud Microsoft, GE and Motorola Solutions for taking a stand on this life-or-death issue,” said Sasha Lezhnev, Senior Policy Analyst at the Enough Project. “Other leading electronics, automotive, and jewelry companies must now follow their lead.”
In May, the UK-based Business and Human Rights Resource Centre wrote to prominent electronics and automotive companies and asked them to clarify their positions on Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act. Microsoft took a leadership position when it stated, “Microsoft has expressed support for the SEC’s prompt action on this rulemaking and we do not support or fund the Chamber’s lobbying against the proposed rules.” General Electric, meanwhile, responded that “the views and positions expressed by the Chamber are its own, and not GE’s.” Motorola Solutions stated that “The views and positions expressed by the Chamber on conflict minerals are not our own.”
Other electronics companies, notably AT&T, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, Motorola Mobility and Verizon, responded but declined to answer the question about the discrepancy between their public positions as companies in supporting action to tackle conflict minerals and their involvement with the Chamber and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). Ford and Xerox declined to respond at all.
“Leading companies at the center of the international debate on conflict minerals appear to be trying to have their cake and eat it too,” said Jana Morgan of Global Witness. “They can’t pledge support for efforts to stamp out the trade in conflict minerals in Congo, while simultaneously supporting the Chamber; an association employing lobbyists to gut the law. These companies must disassociate themselves from the Chamber of Commerce’s position on conflict minerals.”
“Consumers have made it plain to companies that they want conflict-free products to come to market, and stand ready to reward those companies that are doing their utmost to achieve that goal,” said Fred Kramer, Executive Director of Jewish World Watch. “Those same consumers will be sorely disappointed to learn that otherwise proactive companies are at the same time hedging their bets by quietly supporting the Chamber.”
Notes to editors:
1. The following organizations have signed on to this statement: The Conflict Free Campus Initiative, Congo Action Now, Earthworks, The Enough Project, Global Witness, Jewish World Watch, and STAND.
2. The trade in conflict minerals from eastern Congo provides financing to armed groups that have terrorized the region’s civilian population for over a decade, fueling the world’s deadliest war since World War II, with over 5.4 million people dead. In response, Congress included a provision in the Dodd Frank Act – Section 1502 – which requires companies that use tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold to carry out due diligence on their supply chains and report publicly on the steps they have taken.
3. Electronics industry associations, the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) and the Global E-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), as well as other leading companies, have publicly supported measures to deal with conflict minerals. However, lobbyists such as the US Chamber of Commerce and NAM have fought to weaken Section 1502, and the Chamber has said it is considering legal action to block it. Some members of EICC and GeSI, as well as other major firms involved in efforts to address the conflict minerals trade, are also members or funders of the US Chamber of Commerce, and in some cases NAM.
4. The Enough Project has urged companies and the Chamber to support section 1502 since October 2011, with the Step Up for 1502 campaign which led to thousands of consumers writing on the Facebook walls of Dell, Panasonic, Acer, Canon, and the US Chamber. Global Witness wrote a commentary on the issue in May 2012 and the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre invited businesses concerned to respond with their comments.
5. Links between leading companies and the US Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers:
“Being Jewish, you know after 1945, the world said ‘never again.’ Yet, here it is. Happening again.” So said Dr. Denis Mukwege of Panzi Hospital in the eastern Congo city of Bukavu when he met with our partner organization, Jewish World Watch, about the more than 5 million deaths since 1996 and unjust treatment of women. Read More »
This month, Gambia-born lawyer Fatou Bensouda assumed the high profile position of chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. This profile provides some details her background, both professionally and personally. It is part of the series Enough 101. Read More »
The U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission, or SEC, has failed to publish regulations implementing section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act nearly two years since the act’s passage. Last week, 58 members of Congress signed a letter to the chairperson of the SEC, Mary Schapiro, asking her to schedule a vote on these vital regulations before July 1, 2012. Read More »
This op-ed, authored by Congolese advocate and artist Omékongo Dibinga, originally appeared in GlobalPost. Amid the chaos and ongoing conflict in eastern Congo, Dibinga focuses on the resilience of the Congolese people and their use of art not only as a tool of expression but also of resistance. The piece features the "I Am Congo" video profile of Congolese artist Petna Ndaliko. Read More »
The Enough Project joined a coalition of human rights organizations, which includes Open Society Foundation and Humanity United, urging the U.S. government to pressure the U.N. Security Council to release all of the U.N. Group of Expert’s most recent findings related to Congo. In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the groups expressed concern that the publication of a crucial annex linking the government of Rwanda to the M23 mutiny in Congo was being postponed for political reasons. Read More »
Coalition of Human Rights Groups Call for Full Disclosure of Evidence Linking Rwanda to Congo Rebellion
Washington – The Enough Project joined a coalition of human rights organizations, which includes Open Society Foundation and Humanity United, urging the U.S. government to pressure the U.N. Security Council to release all of the U.N. Group of Expert’s most recent findings related to Congo. The coalition sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday expressing concern that the publication of a crucial annex linking the government of Rwanda to the M23 mutiny in Congo was being postponed for political reasons.
Recent news reports state that the U.S. government has been a main proponent of holding back the complete report’s publication, despite strong protests from the Congolese government. In the letter, the human rights groups stated that any decision by the U.S. government to block or delay the full publication of the information would indicate that the U.S.’s commitment to prevent atrocities wherever they are committed, as affirmed by President Obama as recently as April, is wavering. The groups call for full disclosure of the report and its annex, which would represent an important contribution to peace in eastern Congo.
WASHINGTON – Evidence of Rwandan support to the M23 rebellion in eastern Congo continues to surface while the release of the results of a recent investigation conducted by the U.N. Group of Experts on Congo linking Rwanda to the rebellion is being held up by wrangling within the U.N. Security Council. A new Enough Project report released today calls on the U.S. to ensure that the recent investigation into these allegations conducted by the Group of Experts is published in full and the implications for U.S. policy—including U.S. aid—fully examined.
The Enough Project calls on the U.S. and U.N. Security Council to ensure that the Group of Experts report is published immediately to help ascertain the extent of the government of Rwanda's involvement in the M23 rebellion in eastern Congo led by international war criminal Bosco Ntaganda. The government of Rwanda has a history of negatively intervening in eastern Congo, and will continue to do so to protect its own economic and security interests if action is not taken.
“As a partner for peace in the Great Lakes Region, it is imperative that the U.S. be a leader in addressing the allegations leveled against Rwanda,” said Aaron Hall, author of the report and Associate Director of Research at the Enough Project. “The ongoing environment of impunity and humanitarian crisis in eastern Congo demand that the Security Council takes full consideration of all available information. The role of Rwandan intervention can no longer be dismissed or discussed with vagaries. There must be accountability.”
Thus far, the government of Rwanda has intervened in Congolese affairs with little to no repercussion and resulting in further instability. It is time for the U.S. and the international community to send Rwanda a clear message that violating international law and breaching Congolese national sovereignty is no longer acceptable.
Sasha Lezhnev, Enough Project Senior Policy Analyst, said, “Given the seriousness of the allegations that Rwanda has been supporting one of the main rebellions causing this violence in Congo, the M23, any and all evidence must be brought to light immediately. The U.S., U.K. and other Security Council members should give robust, high-level support and further staff to the U.N. Group of Experts’ critical investigation."
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.