With the passage of the Conflict Minerals Trade Act out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the past week has been exciting for advocates working to address the problem of conflict minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Here at Stanford University’s chapter of STAND, we have another exciting (albeit smaller) success to report.
Last week, the university’s Advisory Panel on Investment Responsibility and Licensing, or APIR-L, voted unanimously to recommend the adoption of a proxy voting guideline regarding Congo’s conflict minerals. If the proposal is approved by the board of trustees at its annual meeting in June, the university will be instructed to vote in favor of future shareholder proposals that ask companies to report on measures taken to avoid the sourcing of conflict minerals. In other words, Stanford would leverage its influence as a shareholder to ensure that the companies the university invests in are conflict-free—or working to get there.
Stanford’s STAND chapter is excited about the panel’s decision and believes it is a significant step in the right direction. Given its location at the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford has the potential to play an important role in encouraging electronics companies to assume supply chain responsibility. Adoption of the proxy voting guideline by the University would send a strong message to companies that major institutional investors are starting to take this issue seriously.
We plan to continue raising awareness on campus about the situation in the Congo and the ability of the university to use its influence to make a difference. We’ll also continue working with the university administration to explore additional steps Stanford might take in the future.
Check out our website to stay up-to-date on our efforts. Feel free to also get in touch with us through the site if you want to learn more about what we’re planning or have any experiences or advice to share.
Mia Newman is the advocacy director and incoming co-president of the Stanford University chapter of STAND.