Editor’s Note: This post was written by Amanda Ulrich and Robert Hadley. Ulrich is the Oregon Coalition for Humanity’s CFCI Campaign Director, a volunteer ambassador for Women for Women International, and works as a paralegal at Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton, a medium sized plaintiff’s firm in Portland, Oregon. Hadley is a co-founder of Oregon Coalition for Humanity and an educator of genocide and Holocaust studies with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Regional Teacher Corps.
Since Fall 2012, Oregon Coalition for Humanity (OCH) has been working on our Conflict Free City Initiative campaign in Portland, Oregon (CFCI PDX). Between 2012 and 2013 we met with members of City Council, the Mayor’s office, and local human rights groups. Since the spring of 2013, OCH has been exchanging information with the City’s Procurement Services and Bureau of Technology Services (Tech Services) to craft a CFCI resolution specific to the City of Portland which will have impact.
It’s been a long, slow moving journey to this point. There have been times when we privately wondered if our efforts have been in vain, but then we would hear from the Procurement and Tech Services teams and hope was restored. We have been reminded throughout this process that you must believe in your efforts, no matter how seemingly small, and have a persistence of spirit.
In January of this year, the OCH CFCI policy team met with the Procurement and Tech Services teams to discuss next steps to implement CFCI inPortland. It was an insightful and productive meeting. The commitment and dedication of the city employees is beyond measure. One city employee was on vacation and came into town just to attend the meeting.
The goal is to craft a CFCI Resolution which will have immediate impact and, at the same time, be practical to implement with the possibility of future expansion within City procurement policies. We’ve spent the past few months circulating drafts between the Procurement and Tech Services teams, and have recently reached a final draft. Once approved by the Tech Services team, it will then be submitted to the City Council for a vote.
Our advocacy journey began in 2012, and nearly three years later we feel optimistic that our time, efforts and patience will lead to a fruitful outcome which will have impact for Congo. With evidence that the passage and implementation of the Conflict Mineral Reporting Rules (Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act) has had positive impact and helped contribute to a reduction in the number of ‘3T’ mines controlled by armed groups in eastern Congo, it is important to keep the pressure on industry to improve their due diligence measures and invest responsibly in Congo, so that the Congolese people and civil society leaders can continue to rebuild a stable and secure Congo.
Indeed, Margaret Mead put it best, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has."
Photo credit: Amanda Ulrich