On September 24th, the Canadian House of Commons will hold a Second Reading vote on Bill C-486: The Conflict Minerals Act. The passage of C-486 would reinforce growing international attention and action promoting supply chain reform and responsible sourcing, along with Provision 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and proposed European Union legislation.
C-486 was originally introduced last session by MP Paul Dewar and has gained support from various activist and advocacy groups throughout Canada. Similar to Dodd-Frank 1502, the bill requires Canadian companies to “exercise due diligence in respect of the exploitation and trading of designated minerals originating in the Great Lakes Region of Africa in seeking to ensure that no armed rebel organization or criminal entity or public or private security force that is engaged in illegal activities or serious human rights abuses has benefited from any transaction involving such minerals.” Companies publicly traded in the U.S. filed their first conflict minerals reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission in June 2014.
This is only one step to solve the problem, however, and wider reforms are still much needed in the region. These include a finalized and fully-implemented certification system for minerals from the region, improved mine checks at the local level, greater investment in conflict-free mines, and much more robust livelihood programs for Congolese miners. The international community should give greater support to these efforts, including support to the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) certification system, which is still incomplete, and to livelihood projects for artisanal miners such as microfinance, agriculture, and conflict-free mining. Bills like C-486 and the legislation proposed in the EU indicate the growing global movement dedicated to eliminating the flow of conflict minerals, but Canada, as well as other important donor governments, should provide greater support for mining reform efforts and livelihood projects in Congo.
Activists and representatives from MP Dewar’s office have joined together to create the Just Minerals Campaign in order to support the passage of C-486. Advocacy groups like STAND Canada are running complementary awareness-raising campaigns and petitioning Canadian MPs on a bipartisan level. These campaigns denote how the conflict-free movement is about both contributing to peace in Congo and upholding “continued Canadian commitment to and leadership in the advancement of human rights internationally.” Eliminating conflict minerals from the global supply chain will not solve all of the issues that must be addressed in Congo, but it is a major driver of violent conflict over which the international community has significant leverage. Passage of C-486 would signal that the Parliament of Canada recognizes their role and potential for influence.
Are you a Canadian resident? Voice your support for the Conflict Minerals Act by signing this petition.
For more information on ways to get involved, please contact STAND Canada’s Campaigns Director, Tayla Shirley, at [email protected]
Photo credit: Sasha Lezhnev/Enough Project