Editor's Note: Taking a cue from American legislation aimed at de-incentivizing dealings in conflict minerals from eastern Congo, European leaders are now pushing for the adoption of due diligence guidelines to regulate electronics companies peddling products that may contain conflict minerals. The Canadian and U.K.-based Centre for African Development and Security, or CADS, is encouraging that trend and, with its new petition, calling on European leaders to do more. Guest blogger and CADS co-founder Greg Queyranne describes the effort.
Despite the repeated delays and ongoing wranglings in Washington over the substance of the conflict minerals rules prescribed by the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission, or SEC, as required by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, European policy makers need to move forward swiftly to do their part to ensure European companies and consumers are not fuelling war in the Congo.
The Centre for African Development and Security, or CADS, a non-profit based in the U.K. and Canada, has recently started a petition calling on the European Union to introduce regulations requiring companies to implement the United Nations and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s due diligence guidelines, a framework companies can use to help eliminate conflict minerals from their supply chains.
“Given the size of the European market for electronic gadgets, petitioning the E.U. to formally adopt the U.N./OECD guidelines is an important step towards ending our inadvertent support for war in the Congo,” said Harry Duncan, a director at CADS in London.
The issue has been on European policy makers’ radars for some time. In late 2010, a few months after the U.S. Congress passed the Dodd-Frank legislation, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling on the European Commission, or E.C., to “come out with similar proposals to ensure tractability of imported minerals in the E.U. market.” A resolution passed in mid-2011 condemning mass rape in the Congo’s South Kivu province similarly urged the European Commission to propose conflict minerals legislation.
The most important development to date occurred in January 2012 when the European Commission issued a Trade and Development Communication, which announced support for the U.N./OECD guidelines, stating, “We will advocate greater support for and use of the… OECD’s recommendations on due diligence and responsible supply chain management—something we need to promote beyond OECD countries as well.”
“A number of members of the European Parliament have shown exceptional leadership on pushing this issue forward, and now it is time for MEPs to show substantive commitment to cleaning up opaque conflict-fuelling supply chains,” added Duncan.
In May, 2011, Judith Sargentini, a Dutch member of the European Parliament for the Greens/European Free Alliance, held a roundtable in at the Parliament in Brussels to discuss conflict minerals legislation with nearly 90 stakeholders, including representatives from companies, industry and Congo experts, officials of the European Commission, and members of non-governmental organizations and Congolese advocacy groups, providing important recommendations for potential European regulations. Other members of the European Parliament interested in the issue include the U.K.’s Jean Lambert and Michael Cashman, Belgium’s Louis Michel, and Denmark’s Dan Jørgensen.
Join us in this effort by signing the petition to the E.U., posting it on Facebook and Twitter, and encouraging your friends and family to do the same, so we can put maximum pressure on European policy makers. To Enough Said readers in the European Union: Please contact your representative in the European Parliament and push them to support greater transparency in electronic companies’ supply chains, so that the Congo’s resources can be used to promote peace and development.
Greg Queyranne is co-founder and president of the U.K. and Canada-based non-profit Centre for African Development and Security. He is completing an MPhil in African Studies at the University of Cambridge.