WASHINGTON – The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) needs to issue regulations to tackle the trade in minerals fuelling conflict and human rights abuses in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a group of non-profits, investors and companies said today. A provision directing the SEC to publish rules on conflict minerals by April 2011 was passed as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
The law includes a disclosure requirement that calls on companies to determine whether their products contain conflict minerals by carrying out supply chain due diligence and to report this to the SEC. For over a decade, rebel groups and senior commanders of the Congolese national army have made millions of dollars through the illegal control of mines and trading routes, while inflicting appalling human rights abuses on the local population, including gender-based violence such as rape and sexual slavery.
“The passage of the Dodd-Frank Act has led to positive developments in eastern Congo to demilitarize mining areas,” said Corinna Gilfillan of Global Witness. “The Congolese government recently adopted a law requiring all mining and mineral trading companies operating in the DRC to carry out due diligence measures. The long delays in the rule-making process threaten to reverse this progress and undermine efforts to develop a clean minerals trade.”
Amol Mehra of the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, said: “Armed groups and factions of the Congolese army continue to profit from the minerals trade at the expense of the civilian population. The SEC must come out with rules now to tackle this deadly trade and to provide consumers and investors with important information about companies’ efforts to take responsibility for their supply chains and sourcing practices,”
Industry groups are also spearheading due diligence programs across the global supply chain to comply with Dodd-Frank and further delays in the rules risks slowing this momentum.
“A few industry leaders are ahead of the pack basing their actions on the rules as originally proposed. Unfortunately, most companies have been reluctant to move ahead given the uncertainty of the final wording which will dictate the compliance requirements. This is an unfortunate situation and demonstrates the need for the SEC to act swiftly and issue the final rules.” said Dr. Daniel Persico of KEMET Electronics Corporation.
“Leading companies are moving forward with preparation based on the proposed rules. However, uncertainty about compliance requirements will only continue to grow until finalized regulations are issued,” said Tim Mohin of Advanced Micro Devices.
“We support the timely release of this rule as this issue is too important to delay action,” said Gary Niekerk of Intel.
“Congress has a responsibility to act to ensure that the SEC issues timely rules on conflict minerals. Congress passed the conflict mineral provision to address a humanitarian crisis, and until the SEC issues rules, Congressional intent will continue to be compromised” said Darren Fenwick, Senior Manger of Government Affairs for the Enough Project.
Companies, investors and NGOs believe that getting the rules out is an important step forward in breaking the link between conflict and minerals and that all stakeholders must work together to address the dire humanitarian crisis in eastern DRC.
It is important for the SEC to release strong rules now to ensure all affected companies bring the requisite pressure to bear to incentivize responsible sourcing from the region.
"Investors will benefit by gaining confidence that companies they own-- or may own-- are moving rapidly to ensure that their supply chains and products are free of conflict minerals", said Bennett Freeman, SVP-Sustainability Research and Policy at Calvert Investments. "Investors and consumers alike need to know that companies are undertaking appropriate due diligence to diminish this risk," Freeman added.
WASHINGTON – Congo should heed growing international pressure and arrest wanted war criminal Bosco Ntaganda, the Enough Project said in a new paper. The U.S. government and other donor nations should support and pressure Congo to arrest Ntaganda and other senior commanders, according to the paper.
"Bosco Ntaganda’s mutiny provides an important opportunity for the government of Congo and international actors to take positive steps toward peace and reform in eastern Congo," said Aaron Hall, Enough Project associate director of research. "This turn of events presents the possibility that, finally, the interconnected issues of democratization, security sector reform, justice sector reform, and mineral sector reform could be addressed in conjunction with each other."
Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes including recruitment of child soldiers, was until recently living with impunity in Goma, DRC, as a general in the Congolese army. Last month, Ntaganda defected and launched a rebellion against the government from his stronghold in eastern DRC. This action created the ideal conditions for the Congolese government to arrest Ntaganda, according to the Enough Project report, “Taking the Terminator: Congo’s Golden Opportunity to Deliver a Warlord to Justice.”
The report recommends that the international community supports and pressures the governments of Congo and Rwanda to arrest Ntaganda and the senior commanders, urges the establishment of the Specialized Mixed-Courts system which has been provided for by the government to try war crimes in Congo, pressures the government of Congo to implement security sector reform, and asserts to the governments of Congo and Rwanda that Ntaganda is bad for business by saying that companies will not invest in minerals from rebel-held territories.
On March 31, indicted war criminal and rebel leader turned Congolese General Bosco “The Terminator” Ntaganda launched a rebellion against the Congolese state while facing the threat of arrest and prosecution for war crimes under international and Congolese criminal law.
Concluding its first-ever trial, a panel of judges at the International Criminal Court issues a verdict in the case of Thomas Lubanga, finding him guilty of recruiting child soldiers. Lubanga, a Congolese warlord, was found guilty of recruiting, training, and using child soldiers in conflict. His deputy, Bosco Ntaganda, also faces similar charges at the ICC, however, he remains un-apprehended as a general in the Congolese Army, or FARDC.To provide context behind the events surrounding Ntaganda’s recent defection, the Enough Project has produced a new timeline chronicling the major occurrences since the conviction of Ntaganda’s former commander, Thomas Lubanga, by the ICC for three counts of war crimes. The timeline details the actions of Ntaganda, as well as the other defections, troop movements, diplomatic efforts, international involvement and clashes between the mutinous soldiers and the Congolese Army.
WASHINGTON – The Enough Project commends Maryland for passing a law to curb the global trade in conflict minerals from eastern Congo which fuel ongoing mass atrocities there.
Maryland governor Martin O’Malley signed the bill into law Thursday. The law requires Maryland to not do business with companies that fail to comply with the federal law on conflict minerals, passed in 2010 as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. A provision in this federal financial reform legislation requires companies to disclose whether they source minerals from DR Congo or its neighbors and to exercise due diligence on their supply chains to determine if their products are not fueling deadly conflict in the central African country.
The state law adds a powerful incentive for companies to comply with federal law by denying them procurement contracts with the state of Maryland. The bill was introduced by Delegate Shane Robinson.
"This law shows that Maryland cares about the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and that we have a responsibility to do business with companies that value the social consequences of their decisions," Robinson said. "Hopefully, more state legislatures will pass similar laws that send a message that corporations must be held accountable for social, economic, and environmental impacts at home and abroad in order to earn state contracts."
Tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold, all minerals found in consumer electronics, are mined in eastern Congo, where a decade-and-a-half of conflict has resulted in more than 5 million deaths. Armed groups that commit mass rapes and other atrocities make millions of dollars from the minerals trade and control most of the mining operations in a mafia-like cartel.
"The continuous passage of State level legislation in the U.S. shows a growing commitment from consumers and lawmakers to demand that our elected officials and corporate citizens be held responsible for the global impact of investment and supply chain management," said Aaron Hall, Enough Project associate director of research. "Nowhere is this more important than in Eastern Congo, where this demand is manifesting itself in the creation of a reformed mineral sector that will support community and economic growth and decrease violent conflict driven by the trade of conflict minerals."
The Maryland legislation is the second state to deal with Congo conflict minerals after California passed a similar law last year. Similar legislation is also under consideration in Massachusetts. Dozens of college campuses and local governments have passed resolutions pledging to buy only conflict-free products. In June 2010, Stanford University became the first campus in the nation to adopt a policy combating the trade in conflict minerals from Congo.
On our second trip together to Africa last Thanksgiving, we decided to go to the place where the deadliest war in the world was occurring: the Congo. The entire time we were there, we traveled with an extraordinary Congolese guy named Fidel Bafilemba. His video profile is the first in a new video series being launched by the Enough Project, called “I Am Congo.” Read More »
The Massachusetts-based Congo Action Now group recently claimed some early success in their efforts to usher a new law through the Massachusetts legislature that would bolster the pending federal law on the use of conflict minerals from Congo. Activist and guest blogger Pat Aron writes about their initiative. Read More »