The conflict minerals problem is a systemic one in consumer electronics. To date, no companies have actually taken the steps required to verify that their products are conflict-free. Some individual companies and industry associations are doing more than others. Our action last week targeting Intel was nuanced to show appreciation for their efforts to date, but to challenge them to do more by supporting legislation.
Nintendo, on the other hand, has been entirely unresponsive to NGO engagement efforts. They did not reply to letters sent by Enough and our coalition partners. They are not a member of the electronics industry corporate responsibility association that has been working on conflict minerals, or the trade associations that have engaged on U.S. legislation. Instead of engaging with activists, Nintendo has an auto-response email to our concerns:
“On behalf of Nintendo I appreciate the opportunity to respond and thank you for your patience. Nintendo does not purchase any metals as raw materials. As a remote purchaser that buys finished components made from many materials, Nintendo requires its suppliers to comply with its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Procurement Guidelines, which stipulate suppliers comply with applicable laws, have respect for human rights and conduct their business in an appropriate and fair manner.”
This response shirks responsibility for what transpires in Nintendo’s supply chain back to its suppliers. And without verification and enforcement mechanisms, the requirements for suppliers are inadequate and easily vulnerable to falsification.
We decided to focus on Nintendo in today’s email in order to contrast this lack of engagement with other companies who have taken some important steps forward on this issue. During the rest of this week we will adjust our message to different companies based upon their relative performance cleaning up their supply chains and engaging with governments, activists, and NGOs to help solve this problem.