Although substantial progress has been made in supply chain reform and demilitarizing mines in the DRC, gaps in the mineral certification process threaten to undermine these advances, a new Enough Project report argues. The report, “Coming Clean: A Proposal for Getting Conflict Minerals Certification Back on Track,”uses recent field research to show that Rwanda, Congo, and regional states must complete the mineral certification process or risk disengagement from multinational companies. These companies will likely halt consumption from mines which are not certified as conflict-free.
The report explains that the ICGLR governments have not yet fulfilled their commitments to the process designed to ensure transparency and accountability, and these gaps undermine the credibility of the system. The ICGLR certification process requires four components: mine inspection and traceability, a regional mineral tracking database, audits, and independent monitoring. The key components of accountability—auditing and independent monitoring—lack operational mechanisms to ensure that minerals are fully certified. Additionally, the lack of a third-party audit structure and an Independent Mineral Chain Auditor to ensure transparency is in needed to guarantee the certification process’ full application.
Aaron Hall, co-author of the report, says:
“Certification is the most critical component of the entire conflict-free minerals system. If minerals from the Great Lakes region cannot be certified as conflict-free, then efforts to trace and audit become moot. Without functioning regional audits or an Independent Mineral Chain Auditor, minerals cannot be credibly certified according to regional and international standards.”
The international community and multinational companies must hold the ICGLR initiative to account in its efforts to secure a complete certification process. The Enough Project recommends that the U.S., E.U. and World set a deadline by which Rwanda, Congo, and the ICGLR should implement all components of the certification process or be labeled as non-compliant with international standards. International governments should also work toward an interim structure to issue corrective supply-chain actions before this deadline arrives. The United States and European Union should also incentivize clean supply chain practices and aid the ICGLR in implementing the certification process. Finally, donors should coordinate to create a public education initiative to outline the importance of clean supply chain practices, particularly to communities in eastern Congo.