New State Procurement Policy to Support a Conflict-Free Minerals Trade and Peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Human rights activists and policymakers are celebrating as Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker will sign a statewide “conflict-free” legislation in an official ceremony tomorrow afternoon. Massachusetts now joins Maryland and California as the third state in the country to have passed legislation supporting a conflict-free minerals trade and peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as 25 schools and six cities around the world which have implemented similar policies.
The law requires the state to conduct an assessment and issue a report on its procurement policies with regard to conflict minerals from Congo. The report findings will be used to encourage the implementation of procurement mechanisms that support conflict-free sourcing from Congo.
The legislation, Resolve S.2463, was championed by Boston Mayor and former State Representative Marty Walsh as well as Governor Baker. It is a result of over six years of campaigning by local activists and Congolese diaspora members led by Congo Action Now, and student activists participating in the Enough Project’s Conflict-Free Campus Initiative.
This process is aligned with the goals of the national conflict minerals legislation, Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which requires publicly traded companies to report annually on their conflict minerals supply chain due diligence.
Annie Callaway, Advocacy & Activist Manager for the Enough Project, said: "Resolve S.2463 is a result of over six years of persistence from students, activists, and Congolese diaspora in Massachusetts' conflict-free movement. This unprecedented collaboration will not go unnoticed in the broader push for responsible sourcing from Congo. By committing to evaluate its own procurement practices, Massachusetts joins the growing number of individuals and institutions voicing demand for conflict-free products."
Stephen R. Hilbert, Foreign Policy Advisor for Africa and Global Development, Office of International Justice and Peace at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said: “The Congo Conflict Minerals Act, Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank bill has to be one our country’s greatest “Good Samaritan” acts in recent history. It was the culmination of bipartisan work to acknowledge the effects that illicit mineral mining had on the deadliest conflict in our world since World War II. Since 2008 the Catholic Church in the Congo highlighted how illicit mineral mining fueled militias and conflict. The Church in Congo worked with the Church in the United States to help promote legislation that would help end the suffering. The Church met with the Securities and Exchange Commission to ensure rules were rigorous and transparent and even testified in 2013 to defend the bill from Congressional attempts to repeal it. This bill has even deeper meaning for the Congolese people. Going all the way back to 1885, the Congolese people have watched foreign powers exploit their country for its mineral and natural wealth while the people lived in poverty. Section 1502 breaks that 115 year-long brutal legacy. The United States showed great leadership in passing and enforcing Section 1502 and should be proud of its accomplishment.”
Sasha Lezhnev, Associate Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: "Massachusetts took a major step forward in the fight against deadly conflict minerals today. Taxpayer money should not be used to subsidize companies that are unable to weed conflict minerals out of their supply chains. This resolution is timely and will help drive further industry reform."
Julie Kabukanyi, Congolese diaspora community leader and member of Congo Action Now, said: "The children of Congo are dying for demanding their rights to have democratically elected leaders. Even though they are denied sound education, health care, employment, they know deep down that a democratically elected government will respond to the aspirations of the long-suffering Congolese people. Resolve S.2463 indicates that the state of Massachusetts cares about the Congolese people, and is willing to work to support their fight for peace."
The UN Group of Experts stated as recently as 2010 that “in the Kivu provinces, almost every mining deposit [was] controlled by a military group.” In a major change and thanks to the tireless efforts of activists, as of October 2016, 79 percent of miners working at tin, tantalum, and tungsten mines in eastern Congo surveyed by the International Peace Information Service were not working under the presence of armed actors.
For details on “S.2463: Resolve examining Commonwealth procurement policies relative to Congo conflict minerals” see: https://malegislature.
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.
About THE CONFLICT-FREE CITIES and CONFLICT-FREE CAMPUS INITIATIVE
Initiatives of the Enough Project’s “Raise Hope for Congo” campaign, the Conflict-Free Cities and Conflict-Free Campus Initiative (CFCI) draw on the power of student leadership and activism to help support peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. By encouraging university officials, local governments, and other stakeholders - large purchasers of electronics and powerful spokespersons - to commit to measures that pressure electronics companies to responsibly invest in the minerals sector, consumers are voicing the demand for conflict-free products from Congo. Comprehensive reform is needed in Congo for sustainable peace - now is the time is for activists to lead the conflict-free movement. Join us: www.raisehopeforcongo.org/