It’s a fact: cell phones, computers, and other handheld electronics are essential to our social life, business productivity, and our ability to function overall. These indispensable electronics are also becoming important tools for taking action against human rights violations half a world away, like in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where the mining of minerals needed to power our beloved electronics are fueling conflict.
The BBC published an article today—notably quoting three Enoughers or former Enoughers—called “How to offset your ‘conflict minerals’ guilt,” about the link between our electronics and the atrocities committed by armed groups in Congo over the control of key mines. However, as the article reveals, this issue is not about feeling guilty but about harnessing the power of technology for good, to feel empowered to help spur change in eastern Congo.
To encourage electronics companies to invest in a legitimate mining sector in Congo, activists across the United States have been capitalizing on their unique connection to the conflict to target companies and push for an end to the conflict-minerals trade in eastern Congo. Duke students involved in the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative made a video calling on Duke alum and Apple CEO Tim Cook to commit to conflict-free. The BBC spoke to student leader and former Enough intern Stefani Jones about that message and the school’s efforts in pursuit of a conflict-free campus.
Ultimately, the conflict-free movement is not about boycotting electronics companies, as Raise Hope for Congo’s Campaign Manager JD Stier explained to the BBC’s Kate Dailey, "We have a meaningful connection all the way back to the mine, and we want to use the leverage we have as users of these products." Companies need to know that there is a demand for conflict-free products with minerals from eastern Congo where the profits are benefitting the Congolese people—not lining the pockets of armed groups.
Visit Raise Hope for Congo’s Take Action page to find out how you can get your school or city involved in the conflict-free movement.
Photo: "iCare about peace in Congo NOW" poster (Enough / Jonathan Hutson)