U.S. House Votes to Undermine Transparency and Conflict-Free Supply Chains in Democratic Republic of Congo

Date: 
Jul 7, 2016

Rep. Huizenga's Appropriations Amendment Seeks to Defund Critical SEC Conflict Minerals Enforcement

Efforts to support peace, corporate accountability, and transparency in the Democratic Republic of Congo faced a setback today, as the House of Representatives passed an amendment introduced by Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) to defund implementation of the Security Exchange Commission (SEC)’s rule to address conflict minerals. 

The 11th-hour amendment, added to a larger financial services appropriations bill, states that no government funds can be used to enforce the SEC’s conflict mineral rule pursuant to Provision 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Defunding this provision would undermine years of progress that has been made by companies, private sector initiatives, and regional governments to support conflict-free minerals sourcing from Congo.

Sasha Lezhnev, Associate Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: “The conflict minerals provision in Dodd-Frank has spurred major progress in starting rule of law in Congo's minerals sector and helping make the majority of tin, tantalum, and tungsten mines conflict-free. Before the law was passed, armed groups and their sponsors profited hand-over-fist from the minerals trade, but today 70% of surveyed 3T mines are conflict-free. It's time to focus on addressing the gaps -- particularly conflict gold and artisanal miners' livelihood programs -- instead of moving backwards and undermining the law, as proposed by Rep. Huizenga’s amendment.”

Many Congolese communities and leaders support Dodd-Frank 1502 because they have seen direct positive impacts, because they believe in transparency and the rule of law, or both. Additionally, major corporations such as Intel, KEMET, and Apple have embraced these regulations and used them as a catalyst to reform their own supply chains and deliberately source conflict-free minerals. Rep. Huizenga’s proposed amendment would unravel years of work that has led to significant positive developments continuing to build both in Congo and within corporate supply chains.

Holly Dranginis, Senior Policy Analyst at the Enough Project, said: “The defunding of section 1502 in today's bill is an attempt to halt momentum toward corporate transparency and responsible sourcing. It ignores real progress in eastern Congo, where people once beset by brutal violence have said their lives are safer since 1502 and related reforms have come to be. This fight is not over - the Senate should send a clear message that corporate executives cannot turn a blind eye to where their minerals come from by voting no on this amendment.”

Dodd-Frank 1502 along with related reforms has led to significant improvements in the transparency of corporate supply chains and to a major reduction in the number of 3T conflict mines in eastern Congo. 69 percent of the world’s smelters for the four minerals, the choke points in minerals supply chains, have now passed conflict-free audits (223 smelters in total). In 2015, 948 tons of conflict-free tantalum was exported from eastern Congo -- a 19 percent increase over the 2014 record, and a 387 percent increase over 2013.

Brad Brooks-Rubin, Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: “Section 1502 has prompted many companies to take concrete and positive steps to improve their supply chain sourcing practices.  In particular, companies in many sectors now implement stronger due diligence practices to ensure their supply chains are conflict-free, and they can demonstrate this to their customers and an increasingly socially conscious consuming public.  Having survived a vigorous court challenge, Section 1502 must remain fully funded and enforced so that these gains can be leveraged and expanded.”    

For more information about the impact of Dodd-Frank 1502:  http://eno.ug/1iCJiVj

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact:
Greg Hittelman, Director of Communications, +1 310 717 0606gh@enoughproject.org

About THE ENOUGH PROJECT
The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention policy group, seeks to build leverage for peace and justice in Africa by helping to create real consequences for the perpetrators and facilitators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Enough aims to counter rights-abusing armed groups and violent kleptocratic regimes that are fueled by grand corruption, transnational crime and terror, and the pillaging and trafficking of minerals, ivory, diamonds, and other natural resources. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy recommendations, supports social movements in affected countries, and mobilizes public campaigns. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org