The room was packed with senior Obama advisors, policy experts, and clicking cameras – all to hear about eastern Congo. And John Kerry and Ben Affleck delivered with firm direction. Speaking with his former campaign partner Affleck in the audience, Senator Kerry made an impassioned speech on the need for university campuses to start a Congo conflict-free movement. This is great news for the Enough and STAND partner campuses from Stanford to Colorado to Yale who are already gearing up to make their campuses go conflict-free.
The keynote speaker at the launch of Affleck's Eastern Congo Initiative report on U.S. policy on Congo, Kerry made an emotional pitch to the audience. Not only should we think about the issues in Congo, said Kerry, "but we have to remember our mission.” He argued that we can no longer ignore that our electronics and consumer purchases may be fueling war in Congo. Students in particular should not turn a blind eye, he said.
Kerry then added, "Ben, I think we ought to take this across campuses,” talking about a conflict-free movement at universities across America. Affleck agreed. “We should be able to know if what we’re buying is fueling conflict and destruction somewhere,” he said.
Enough’s Raise Hope for Congo campaign and STAND partnered in September to kick off a nationwide campus initiative. So far, 34 schools across the country have joined the conflict-free movement. (Download the toolkit here.)
Kerry added that conflict minerals must be addressed for any longer term reform to be successful and sustainable. He said he believes that it will be economic interests and economic actors who will be key to turning the tide on violence in eastern Congo.
Photo: "iCare about PEACE Congo NOW" (Enough/Jonathan Hutson)