Enough Co-founder John Prendergast drew from his recent trip to eastern Congo to write a compelling op-ed about conflict minerals that appears in today’s Boston Globe.
Being held at gunpoint by 30 drunk and angry militia in the middle of the night on a deserted road in one of the most dangerous war zones in the world was not our plan when we started out the day. But my traveling companions and I were digging into the links between the illicit mining of Congo’s “conflict minerals’’ and a deadly war, and we didn’t expect a walk in the park. We had visited a gold mine contested by some particularly vengeful armed groups, and this militia had lost out in controlling the mine and wasn’t happy about the result. After hours of negotiations, guns poked into ribs, and death threats, we emerged relatively unscathed and $1,000 poorer. Congolese civilians, however, are rarely so fortunate.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo next week provides the opportunity to demonstrate the importance of ending the world’s most pronounced use of rape as a weapon. She will hopefully signal a greater investment in peacemaking and civilian protection by the United States. But private-sector action is equally needed. An essential ingredient for the solution will be the success of an embryonic consumer campaign in which American and European buyers of cellphones, laptops, and iPods begin to demand conflict-free electronics products that don’t source their essential materials from mines that produce deadly conflict.
Read the rest of the op-ed here.