Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA) has been a leader in the House when it comes to Congo’s conflict minerals—he’s even made a video to support Enough’s Come Clean 4 Congo video contest. Today he pushed forward for greater transparency with an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill that would require the U.S. government to develop a map of armed groups and mineral-rich areas of eastern Congo. The McDermott Amendment to HR 2647 would require the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to publish a map delineating mineral-rich areas and armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mines in areas under the control of armed groups would be designated as ‘conflict zone mines,’ and the map would be periodically updated to reflect changing realities on the ground.
For companies to ensure that they do not purchase minerals that fund conflict, they need more accurate and up-to-date information about what is going on in Congo. The United States government has the resources to help. The McDermott Amendment is a small but crucial component of the comprehensive approach to Congo’s conflict minerals that the Enough Project supports. Much more action is needed, and the “Congo Conflict Minerals Act of 2009,” which is steadily picking up co-sponsors in the Senate, goes much further. We hope to see even stronger enforcement provisions when the House introduces companion legislation in the near future.