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Congress Takes On Mineral Trade Fueling Congo’s War

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Congress Takes On Mineral Trade Fueling Congo’s War

Posted by Laura Heaton on November 19, 2009

From Secretary Clinton’s insistence on visiting eastern Congo during her first trip to Africa, to Senator Boxer’s landmark hearing on the epidemic of sexual violence, momentum is building among leaders in the U.S. government to take action against the root causes of the world’s worst sexual violence, which is taking place as we speak in eastern Congo.

This morning, we’re on the Hill for another momentous occasion – the introduction of the Conflict Minerals Trade Act of 2009 sponsored by Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA). The bill promotes transparency in a trade that is notoriously shadowy. Currently, the profits from these minerals, which are essential in manufacturing electronic devices, fuel a conflict marked by civilian deaths and rampant sexual violence. The bill would help set up a system for auditing mineral ores or their derivatives, ultimately requiring that companies importing products containing these essential minerals declare whether their goods are “conflict free.”

Some of the specific provisions of the House legislation include:

  • development of a U.S. government strategy to address conflict minerals;
  • support for further investigations by the U.N. Group of Experts;
  • mapping of which armed groups control key mines in eastern Congo;
  • inclusion of information on the negative impact of mineral exploitation and trade on human rights in Congo in the annual human rights reports;
  • guidance for companies to exercise due diligence;
  • expanded U.S. efforts to improve conditions and livelihoods for communities in eastern Congo who are dependent upon mining; and,
  • review by Government Accountability Office to evaluate adherence and effectiveness of policies

We we’re live at Rep. McDermott’s press conference, where I tweeted @laura4Enough.

We’ll have updates throughout the day about this very promising development and about the role each of us can play to help break the link between our electronics devices and violence in Congo. So please check back.

In the meantime, have a look at our new video that illustrates the devastating effect of Congo’s conflict minerals, and then spread the word by posting it on Facebook or sharing it via your own blog or Twitter. The movement to end the deadly trade in conflict minerals is well underway. Please get involved – as a consumer, a constituent, and as a person in the know, you have a role to play.