Madison, WI– On Friday, September 21, the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative, or CFCI, at UW-Madison will host a kickoff event introducing how students can get involved with promoting conflict-free technology on campus in order to stop the trade of conflict minerals funding armed groups in eastern Congo. The Conflict-Free Campus Initiative is a movement that has spread to more than 100 campuses across the nation, and has led 12 schools so far to pass resolutions giving preference to conflict-free electronics products.
The event will feature unique campus and national speakers including Raise Hope for Congo campaign manager and UW-Madison alum, JD Stier. Filmmaker Paul Freedman (Sand and Sorrow, Halfway Home) will film the event and document the journey of the student leaders as they launch the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative on Madison's campus, which will become a core story line for a comprehensive film about the conflict in Congo.
Who: Conflict-Free Campus Initiative at UW-Madison, a new student-led group advocating for the university administration to pass a conflict-free resolution
What: Conflict-Free Campus Initiative Kickoff
Where: Beefeaters Room in the Memorial Union, 800 Langdon St., Madison, WI, 53706
When: Friday, September 21, 2012 from 6:30PM – 7:30 PM, CST
Why: Armed groups in eastern Congo earn hundreds of millions of dollars every year from the sale of conflict minerals—gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten. In order to control the mines, these armed groups use systematic violence and rape as a way to intimidate local communities. The ongoing conflict in eastern Congo has claimed more than five million lives, and still continues today.
As purchasers of electronics products, U.S. consumers have a powerful role to play in helping to prevent this deadly trade. Collectively, students can work together to create a demand for responsible sourcing of minerals from Congo. With more than 40,000 students enrolled, UW-Madison has significant purchasing power that can be used to pressure electronics companies into creating conflict-free products and responsibly sourcing minerals from the Congo.
The Conflict-Free Campus Initiative draws on the power of student leadership and activism to bring about peace in Congo. It is a project of the Enough Project 's Raise Hope for Congo campaign and STAND.
Continued pressure from citizen activists has finally started to crack Nintendo—the company that ranked dead last in the Enough Project’s 2012 company rankings on conflict minerals report released last month. Nevertheless, much more is needed to convince the world’s largest video-game console maker to move beyond issuing public statements and take meaningful action to clean up its supply chain. Read More »
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 »
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 »
The rule, which requires companies to publicly disclose their use of conflict minerals that originated in eastern Congo or neighboring countries, should have an overall positive effect on promoting peace and stability in Congo—but a slow one. Read More »