Editor’s Note: Student leaders Henry Dambanemuya and Ellie Hamrick recently spearheaded a conflict minerals event and workshop during a summit in Indiana focused on prevention of genocide and mass atrocities. In this guest post, they wrote about how Congo advocacy is taking off on campuses across the state.
More than 100 activists, including students, community members, Rwandan and Syrian diaspora members, and faith leaders, from around the world convened in Indianapolis on March 31 to participate in the Global Solutions Indiana Genocide Prevention Summit.
The summit focused on new organizational strategies for activists working toward genocide and mass atrocities prevention, with a broad scope covering topics from the atrocities taking place in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains, to memorializing the Holocaust. One of the more challenging issues discussed was the ongoing conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
As student organizers for Raise Hope for Congo’s Conflict-Free Campus Initiative, or CFCI, we spoke to the audience and led a workshop to raise awareness about the conflict in the Congo, noting the history of the conflict and consumers’ role in bringing an end to corporate complicity in the violence. Congo’s conflict minerals revenues of over $180 million per annum bankroll atrocities and conflict. Militias often use mass rape as a deliberate strategy to intimidate and control communities as they profit from the illicit trade in Congo’s conflict minerals: tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold. These minerals are essential for the manufacture of our everyday electronics products.
We were ecstatic to share that CFCI has grown from 20 participating campuses to more than 100 in the past year, signifying the strength and capacity of the conflict-free movement. We were even more excited to report that CFCI is starting to have a concrete impact. Motorola Solutions, Intel, and Kemet Mining are leading efforts to build closed, clean supply chains from the ground up, and influential companies such as Apple and Nokia have taken steps toward increased transparency and accountability that were unfathomable a year ago. On the ground, there has been tangible evidence that mines are beginning to be demilitarized.
Moving forward, growing pressure from consumers of electronics products is crucial to sustain the impact of the conflict-free movement. Students are a key demographic for electronics companies—not just because we’re always after the latest gizmos, but also because companies know that we have built-in social networks and, crucially, we’re connected to even larger, more powerful consumers and investors: universities.
The weekend proved to be a huge success. After attending the summit, students from Ball State, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Manchester Peace College, Indianapolis University, University of Indianapolis, and Purdue University signed up to start CFCI movements at their schools. Together these schools spend millions on electronics products—their collective contracts, harnessed for social change, would be enough to make any electronics company think twice about where they source their raw materials.
After the summit, we feel inspired to go back to our own communities and fight hard for human rights in the Congo, knowing that we have connected with a new group of students who will fight for peace in Congo. These activists, armed with knowledge, compassion and tenacity, are raising the bar for Congo activism and advocacy across the country and around the world. Join them.
Henry is a junior at DePauw University studying Computer Science and Conflict Studies.
Ellie is a junior studying anthropology at Ohio University.