For Immediate Release
April 1, 2009
Eileen White Read, 202.741.6376
STRATEGY PAPER: Can You Hear Congo Now? Cell Phones, Conflict Minerals, and the Worst Sexual Violence in the World
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 1, 2009 – The Enough Project at the Center for American Progress today issued a call to action on “conflict minerals” that are mined in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, sold by rebel groups to purchase arms, and serve as a direct cause of widespread sexual violence in that country.
In a new strategy paper authored by Co-founder John Prendergast, Enough called for electronics companies to endorse a pledge that they will manufacture their products without conflict minerals and make their supply chains subject to a transparent audit. Enough also urged activists around the world to endorse a similar pledge calling on companies to examine their business practices. “The deadly nexus in the Democratic Republic of Congo between conflict, sexual violence, and resource exploitation is undeniable,” notes the strategy paper, Can You Hear Congo Now? Cell Phones, Conflict Minerals, and the Worst Sexual Violence in the World.
The strategy paper notes that most electronics companies and consumers genuinely do not appreciate the complex chain of events that ties widespread sexual violence in the Congo with the minerals that power cell phones, laptops, mp3 players, video games, and digital cameras. Since research has clearly demonstrated those linkages, however, the Enough Project believes it is time to understand these linkages, expose them, and bring this deadly war fuelled by conflict minerals to an end. Militias and armies responsible for the scourge of sexual violence in eastern Congo battle for control over conflict minerals – the ores that produce the tin, tungsten, and tantalum found in electronic products – and finance themselves through illegal taxation and illicit trade.
“Because we are all unconsciously part of the problem in Congo, all of us can consciously become part of the solution,” said Mr. Prendergast. “Collectively, American consumers have enormous leverage over the companies from which we purchase our electronics. We can marshal that power to press them to play a positive role to protect and empower Congo’s women.”