WASHINGTON -- The Wall Street Reform Act required the Obama administration to develop a strategy for addressing the linkages between the trade in conflict minerals, armed groups and human rights abuses in eastern Congo by January 17. Early indications are that the strategy will not contain the critical ingredients for success: senior U.S. leadership in developing a minerals certification process, building on the lessons of similar efforts to end the trade in blood diamonds, sweatshop labor in the apparel sector, and illegally harvested timber, and leading revitalized efforts to reform Congo’s security sector.
Under Secretaries of State Maria Otero and Robert Hormats have the de facto lead in the policy process, in support of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s strong interest in ending the scourge of sexual violence in eastern Congo, driven in large part by the contestation over conflict minerals. In the aftermath of Secretary Clinton’s historic 2009 trip to Congo, the administration pledged to take a leading role in helping to end the world’s deadliest war.
“In response to the bloody wars in West Africa fueled by conflict diamonds, consumers demanded a change forcing governments and companies to find a solution. Heavy diplomatic and commercial pressure resulted in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and helped make peace in that part of the world,” said John Prendergast, Co-Founder of the Enough Project. “We want to replicate that strategy in Congo, filtering conflict minerals out of our cell phones and laptops. The only way to do that is to create a mineral certification process. And the only way we’ll get that is if the U.S. leads in its creation.”
Actor and activist Ashley Judd, who has made two trips to eastern Congo said, "In my two visits to eastern Congo, I've seen the ravaging impact on communities -- particularly in the form of shocking gender violence against women and girls -- that the pursuit of mineral wealth creates. An international system certifying minerals as conflict-free would help break the link between rape and violence, and the mineral trade that powers our cell phones and laptops. Americans as both consumers and citizens of the wider world have a crucial opportunity to feel fantastic about U.S. playing a leading role in its creation."
Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA) said, “The law passed in Congress on conflict minerals was an important first step, but I think the State Department should play a vital lead diplomatic role in convening companies and key governments together to hammer out an international certification process. Governments in the region have shown willingness to partner on the issue, but certification will need much more leadership from a senior U.S. level, if it is to succeed.”
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.
As responsible global citizens and consumers, we cannot allow our purchases to continue funding armed groups terrorizing communities in eastern Congo. There are solutions, and you as a university student have a powerful role to play. Read More »
President Kabila’s nearly four-month ban on mining exploitation in the Kivu provinces has been a windfall for army commanders of the government’s ongoing military operations against Hutu foreign combatants in eastern Congo. Read More »
During my recent visit to eastern Congo, President Joseph Kabila's ban on mining was a central preoccupation for most of the diggers, traders, government agents, and civil society representatives with whom I met. Read More »
In a report released today, my colleagues and I from the Enough Project respond to the growing consumer demand for electronics free of the conflict minerals that fuel ongoing war in eastern Congo. Read More »
Enough presents an initial ranking on the progress made by the 21 electronics companies who source minerals from the Congo. This report focuses on the efforts within the industry to address the conflict minerals issue and also assesses the response of other industries that are reliant on the 3Ts and gold.