Conflict Minerals

Enough Project Applauds Madison's Resolution to go Conflict Free

Date: 
Dec 5, 2013

Enough Project Media Advisory

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Carine Umuhumuza, cumuhumuza@enoughproject.org, 202-478-5314

The Madison City Council in Wisconsin passed a resolution earlier this week symbolically declaring the city conflict free. The resolution comes after nearly two years of a growing student movement at University of Wisconsin-Madison that campaigned the city and University to denounce the use of minerals that fuel violence and change their electronics purchasing practices to favor verifiable conflict-free products.

Last month, student activists in Madison, WI seized energy from a rally for a conflict-free Congo with Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and celebrity activist Emmanuelle Chriqui. Their hard work was realized on Tuesday, December 3, 2013 when City Council leaders unanimously approved a city resolution (RES-13-00898).

Over the past several years, student activists throughout the U.S. have been working with the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative, a student-led initiative that is active on 150 campuses across the country and abroad, to pass resolutions through campus administrations. Resolutions have been passed on 16 campuses, including Duke and Stanford, and in state-wide legislation in California and Maryland. Madison joins other cities such as Pittsburgh, PA, St. Petersburg, FL, and Edina, MN who have passed similar resolutions.

The Enough Project’s Raise Hope for Congo campaign, an initiative of the anti-genocide group in Washington, commended the city’s leadership.

Raise Hope for Congo Campaign Manager JD Stier said:

"Wisconsin is home to U.S. Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region, Russ Feingold as well as Congo activist Aaron Rodgers, placing Madison at the forefront of the human rights movement for peace in Congo. By leading the call to go conflict-free, Madison can inspire other cities across the nation to join the conflict-free movement."

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The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more about Enough, go to www.enoughproject.org.

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Report: Coming Clean: A Proposal for Getting Conflict Minerals Back on Track

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Conflict Minerals: Companies May Stop Buying Unless Certification is Sped Up

Date: 
Nov 11, 2013

Enough Project Press Release

Contact: Carine Umuhumuza, cumuhumuza@enoughproject.org, 202-478-5314

Conflict Minerals: Companies May Stop Buying Unless Certification is Sped Up

NAIROBI, KENYA and WASHINGTON, DC - Critical gaps in the minerals certification process in eastern Congo, Rwanda, and the surrounding region threaten to undo the development of a clean minerals trade in Central Africa, argues a new Enough Project report released today.  Minerals certification, a key component in building a transparent regional minerals trade, faces setbacks that could hinder global market access for minerals extractors, traders, and exporters in the Great Lakes region, unless regional governments implement the process. The report, “Coming Clean: A Proposal for Getting Conflict Minerals Certification Back on Track" is based on recent field research in the region.

Enough Project Field Consultant Aaron Hall, said:

“Certification is the most critical component of the entire conflict-free minerals system. If minerals from the Great Lakes region cannot be certified as conflict-free, then efforts to trace and audit become moot. Without functioning regional audits or an Independent Mineral Chain Auditor, minerals cannot be credibly certified according to regional and international standards."

Tremendous strides have been made in recent years to cut the conflict minerals trade in eastern Congo. In the past four years, governments, nonprofits, and private sector actors in Africa, the U.S., and Europe have built regulatory frameworks and stimulated the global market for responsibly sourced minerals. Additionally, a certification process, under the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, or ICGLR, was established to ensure that minerals sold and exported from the Great Lakes region do not fund conflicts. Progress on reforming supply chains and demilitarizing mines has addressed many negative elements of the conflict minerals trade, as armed groups are much less present in mines.

Enough Project Senior Policy Analyst Sasha Lezhnev said:

"Minerals can be a boon for peace in Congo and the region, not a conflict curse.  But if Rwanda, Congo, and regional states do not take urgent steps to complete the mineral certification process in the next few months, multinational companies may stop purchasing many minerals from the region that cannot credibly be certified as conflict-free. U.S. Special Envoy Russ Feingold and the World Bank should work closely with Rwanda and Congo to speed up the certification process, so that the system provides assurances to companies." 

Progress in certifying minerals from the Great Lakes region as conflict-free is at a crossroads. States are starting to issue certificates for easy-to-certify mines using ad hoc measures, but interim steps will not work for all mines. Rwanda issued its first conflict-free certificate on November 6, and Congo plans to begin issuing certificates for mines and exporters soon.

The report explains that the ICGLR governments have not yet fulfilled their commitments to the process designed to ensure transparency and accountability, and these gaps undermine the credibility of the system. The ICGLR certification process requires four components: mine inspection and traceability, a regional mineral tracking database, audits, and independent monitoring. The key components of accountability—auditing and independent monitoring—lack operational mechanisms to ensure that minerals are fully certified.

The report explains that existing "bag and tag" systems, used by tin and tantalum industries sourcing in Rwanda and in some locations in Congo, have been a brave first step but do not provide full conflict-free assurance because of the lack of the independent oversight mechanisms of the ICGLR certification process.  

The report calls on the U.S., E.U., and World Bank to focus energies on helping to complete the ICGLR certification process. These measures include setting a deadline for Rwanda, Congo, and the ICGLR to meet the four components of the certification process and formalizing interim measures to certify minerals to meet international standards. If the Great Lakes states fail to meet these standards, they may be deemed non-compliant with international due diligence standards.

The report also recommends that the World Bank and/or electronics companies should help digitize the traceability system in Congo, so that data is transparent, and that the U.S. and E.U. should urge Rwanda to publish minerals production data as soon as possible.  Finally, the U.S. and E.U. should offer incentives to source fully certified minerals from the region, such as offering a high-level award for companies that help build a clean trade and purchasing clean minerals. 

Read the report, "Coming Clean: A Proposal for Getting Conflict Minerals Certification on Track": http://www.enoughproject.org/files/ComingClean-Getting-Conflict-Minerals-Certification-on-Track.pdf

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The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more about Enough, go to www.enoughproject.org.

 

Coming Clean: A Proposal for Getting Conflict Minerals Certification on Track

Tremendous strides have been made in recent years to cut the conflict minerals trade in eastern Congo. In the past four years, governments, nonprofits, and private sector actors in Africa, the U.S., and Europe have built regulatory frameworks and stimulated the global market for responsibly sourced minerals. This report explores how to get the certification process on track in order to bring peace, security, and regional economic growth to the region. 

Activist Brief: Striking Gold - Why the Illicit Gold Trade in Congo Matters

This activist brief provides details and talking points on the illicit conflict gold trade and the M23 rebel group's involvement. It explains how M23 and its allies took over took over a profitable part of the conflict gold trade in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


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New Evidence: M23 Rebels in Congo Conflict Gold Trade

Date: 
Oct 9, 2013

Enough Project Press Release

Embargoed Until: October 9, 2013 7pm EST/October 10, 2013 Midnight GMT

Contact: Carine Umuhumuza, cumuhumuza@enoughproject.org, 202-478-5314

New Evidence: M23 Rebels in Congo Conflict Gold Trade

The Enough Project has released a groundbreaking new report that documents the conflict gold smuggling network of the Eastern Congo-based M23 rebels. The report, “Striking Gold: How M23 and its Allies are Infiltrating Congo's Gold Trade,” reveals how M23 is involved in the lucrative gold trade in eastern Congo, which is worth approximately $500 million per year overall.  Instead of controlling mines directly, M23 has built alliances with other armed groups in gold-rich areas and expanded its contacts with influential traders in Uganda, Burundi, and Congo to trade gold. The report calls on U.S. Special Envoy Russ Feingold, the U.N. Security Council, U.N. Envoy Mary Robinson, and jewelry retailers to take concrete measures to limit the documented paths of conflict gold to international markets.

Striking Gold” identifies four main gold exporters whose business operations enable M23 and other armed groups to profit from the gold trade, according to UN experts reports and Enough Project research. The report also names militia leaders, including M23 commander Sultani Makenga, who play a key role in the illicit trade. Makenga has built on the networks of former M23 co-commander Bosco Ntaganda and has extended alliances that cut across otherwise hostile ethnic and political divisions.

Ruben de Koning, co-author of the report, says, “Some of the major official gold exporters in Uganda and Burundi indirectly purchase smuggled gold from M23 and allied armed groups in violation of the U.N. arms embargo, and without exercising any due diligence on the origin of their gold. Sanctions against these individual exporters, as opposed to companies, would help prevent sanctioned owners from merely reinventing themselves under a new company name in order to continue operations. U.S. and U.N. sanctions would make it harder for M23 and other armed groups to finance their struggle, and compel others to start mitigating such risk.”

Sasha Lezhnev, Senior Policy Analyst at the Enough Project, says, “M23's deadly gold may be entering our jewelry stores or banks, which make up 80 percent of the global gold market. The U.S. government and jewelers can help stem this problem at its root.  U.S. envoy Russ Feingold should press Congo, Rwanda, and the Great Lakes region to finalize their certification system to weed out conflict gold. Jewelers must also step up efforts to build a clean gold trade in Congo by joining public-private alliances and tech company projects like 'Solutions for Hope.'”

M23 allies have consolidated control over mines, particularly those in Walikale and Lubero territories in North Kivu province and in Ituri district in Orientale province. The growing revenues have enriched those who perpetrate atrocities and crimes against humanity in the region. M23 and its allies have also secured cross-border transit routes for smuggling to Bujumbura, Burundi, and Kampala, Uganda, both important regional hubs for international gold markets.

De Koning adds, “The ball is in the court of the U.S. government and U.N. Security Council to sanction these known exporters. Responsibility also lies with the downstream gold industry to conduct proper due diligence and invest in a clean gold trade in Congo.”

Read the full report, "Striking Gold: How M23 and its Allies are Infiltrating Congo's Gold Trade": http://www.enoughproject.org/files/StrikingGold-M23-and-Allies-Infiltrating-Congo-Gold-Trade.pdf

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The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more about Enough, go to www.enoughproject.org.

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