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Eight Letters from Local Civil Society Groups in Support of the U.S. Conflict Minerals Law
Note: This blog was written by the Enough Project's Sasha Lezhnev and Rachel Finn.
In early 2017, in response to a possible suspension of the Conflict Minerals Rule for Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank law, numerous companies, investors, activists, NGOs, and others have come out publicly in support of the Rule. Several of these have come in the form of letters to the Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC) in response to a call for comments on the Conflict Minerals Rule from Acting Chairman of the SEC, Michael Piwowar.
In recent weeks, human rights groups and civil society members based in eastern Congo and the region issued eight different letters, representing 101 organizations in total. Below are excerpts from the letters, issued by some of those most affected by the conflict in Congo.
"Dodd-Frank... led to a positive change:
- cut off from the illegal extraction of minerals, which was a major source of funding, armed groups are significantly less active. In the east of the DRC, around 8,500 children left armed groups between 2009 and 2015.
- the suspension of some high-level military officers in South Kivu due to their likely involvement in the illegal extraction of minerals. ...
Any step to suspend Section 1502 would undoubtedly lead to conflict minerals infiltrating the supply chain with devastating effects. Namely, the reactivation of armed groups and the feeding of terrorist and mafia networks..."
"The introduction of the Dodd-Frank Act was a way of reducing the number of violent acts committed by these warlords and enabled the suspension of illegal arms sales; sales which had facilitated the proliferation of unauthorised weapons in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mr. President, we wish to most expressly assure you that if you decide to call into question the Dodd-Frank Act, this will once again lend legitimacy to the presence and proliferation of armed groups in the east of the DRC, something which Congolese civil society condemns in the strongest terms. Therefore, we kindly request that you reconsider your decision in this regard before the situation in the DRC degenerates into a humanitarian and economic crisis. Repealing this Act risks causing a new regional conflict, which would in turn destabilise the cohesion that currently exists between the Democratic Republic of Congo and its neighbours Rwanda and Uganda who seek only to infiltrate the east of the country and illegally extract its minerals."
“Thanks to the Dodd-Frank Act, Eastern DRC has to date more than 220 certified green mining sites, more than 300 mining police officers trained and deployed to secure mining sites,an independent audit mechanism, and a regional certification system. These advances undoubtedly contribute to reducing the rate of crime and human rights violations, including rape of women and exploitation of children in mining areas. All these efforts and progress will be destroyed if the US Government decides to contradict itself by repealing the Dodd-Frank Act.”
“As a native of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), I have seen first-hand what things are like on the ground – gang-rape, modern child slavery and other flagrant human rights violations on a massive scale, affecting scores of victims, especially in eastern DRC. Some people may not understand how a U.S. law related to corporate supply chain sourcing practices could help stop this horrific, decades-long conflict. However, I am writing to explain how the Dodd-Frank Act has done much to reduce violence in my country. It is one of the main reasons why armed groups no longer wield the power they once enjoyed.”
"The suspension of section 1502 of the dodd frank act will have negative consequences for millions of human beings in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. If the decree of President Trump is officialized the rebel groups will find the means to finance the war. They will kill the children, they will rape the women. They will destroy all hope for the Congolese people to live in peace on their territory. Our hope rests on the American people to help us so that section 1502 of law dodd frank is not suspended."
“...we would like to thank U.S. Senators for bringing into law Section 1502 which is worth its weight in gold. It should be supported by all in the U.S. Senate as the maintenance of Section 1502 will support democracy and peace in developing countries. To repeal the law would be to light a fire under progress already made in the ground in eastern DRC and in the African Great Lakes region, which are victims of bad governance of natural resources.”
“...Dodd-Frank 1502 brought hopes for human security, respect of Human Rights and Peace in Eastern Congo, it mitigated the evil actions of armed rebel groups, it was the promise for the end of exploitation of our lands and illegal profiting from our minerals. Please do continue your investigation of an alternative plan and at the same time leave Dodd-Frank 1502 be until you find better ways to manage the situation. Thats the spirit of the America I know and that the whole world knows, thats the reason America is the leader, the champion of human rights...Dodd Frank 1502 has been a godsend for those thousands of raped and mutilated women in the Rape Capital of the world: The Democratic Republic of Congo. I would like to remind you that since the implementation of Dodd-Frank 1502, there are less rebel-controlled mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, there are more companies doing due diligence in trading minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo, there is more world attention on the Human Rights violations in the Congo…”
"The Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) and its civil society partners in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are very concerned that the suspension of the conflict minerals rule promulgated by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) pursuant to Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act will negatively impact peace, stability and development in the DRC, and the Great Lakes region....The Dodd-Frank Act has had enormous positive effects. Dodd-Frank has contributed significantly to reducing the influence of the armed groups in eastern DRC, which have been using the illegal exploitation of mineral resources to fund their violent activities for years."