Purchasing Policy to Support Peace in Congo
August 26, 2015 (Portland, Oregon) – Activists and policymakers are celebrating the Portland City Council’s vote today to enact a policy to ensure that cellular devices and other key communication equipment purchased by the city are not connected to killing, child abductions, or sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The result of over two years of campaigning by local activists led by the Oregon Coalition for Humanity, and an international campaign spearheaded by the Enough Project’s Conflict-Free Cities and Conflict-Free Campus Initiative the city’s new procurement policy requires that the makers of cellular devices and radio subscriber units to be used by the city be surveyed to determine possible connections to illegal mining and smuggling in eastern Congo by violent armed groups. The policy then states that information will be used to support purchasing products made with conflict-free minerals
Rachel Finn, Advocacy Manager for the Enough Project, said: "As one of the few cities worldwide to change its procurement policy to favor companies working to make their products conflict-free and support the livelihoods of Congolese miners and their communities, Portland has proven itself a leader in the larger movement to support peace in eastern Congo. Thanks to the hard work of local activists led by the Oregon Coalition for Humanity, as well as the dedication of many Portland City government workers over the last two years, the city has passed a strong, socially responsible resolution."
Amanda R. Ulrich, Campaign Director for Portland’s Conflict-Free City Initiative, Oregon Coalition for Humanity, said: "When we realized we are connected to the suffering of the people in eastern Congo through the products our city purchases, it was a shock. But that recognition also led us to see a way to play a positive role. Portland is a place of integrity and humanity. Today, all the people of Portland should feel proud, and congratulate our City Council for doing the right thing."
Annie Callaway, Senior Advocacy Associate at the Enough Project, said: "The City Council's resolution requests documentation on conflict minerals policies from manufacturers of key electronics products and the city will use that information to inform its purchasing decisions. Today, Portland has leveraged its consumer power as a force for peace, justice, and transparency."
Portland’s annual expenditure that will now be affected by the new “conflict-free” policy varies, according to estimates by city officials, and has in recent years ranged from $426,000 (Fiscal Year 2012/2013) to $11.4 million (Fiscal Year 2013/2014).
The new policy in Portland builds on the momentum of an international movement that has seen 19 schools, five cities, and two states enact similar “conflict-free” procurement rules.
Link to the text of the Portland City Council’s new conflict-free policy:
About THE ENOUGH PROJECT
The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention policy group, seeks to build leverage for peace and justice in Africa by helping to create real consequences for the perpetrators and facilitators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Enough aims to counter rights-abusing armed groups and violent kleptocratic regimes that are fueled by grand corruption, transnational crime and terror, and the pillaging and trafficking of minerals, ivory, diamonds, and other natural resources. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy recommendations, supports social movements in affected countries, and mobilizes public campaigns. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org
About THE CONFLICT-FREE CITIES and CONFLICT-FREE CAMPUS INITIATIVE
Initiatives of the Enough Project’s “Raise Hope for Congo” campaign, the Conflict-Free Cities and Conflict-Free Campus Initiative (CFCI) draw on the power of student leadership and activism to help support peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. By encouraging university officials, local governments, and other stakeholders – large purchasers of electronics and powerful spokespersons – to commit to measures that pressure electronics companies to responsibly invest in the minerals sector, consumers are voicing the demand for conflict-free products from Congo. Comprehensive reform is needed in Congo for sustainable peace – now is the time is for activists to lead the conflict-free movement. Join us: www.raisehopeforcongo.org/