Dear Special Envoy Feingold:
Congratulations on your strong leadership in Congo’s ongoing peace process. As campus leaders from 73 schools across the United States and abroad, we represent thousands of our fellow students who are actively working to address the conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. We have been inspired by your dedication and leadership on this issue as a Senator and are excited and hopeful that you will make even greater strides toward a sustainable peace in your capacity as Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region.
As students participating in the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative – a joint initiative of the Enough Project’s Raise Hope for Congo campaign and STAND, a student-led movement to end mass atrocities – we work with the student governments and administrations at our schools and within our communities to commit to measures that pressure electronics companies and other relevant industries to responsibly invest in Congo's minerals sector. Sixteen academic institutions have already passed resolutions to this effect, and more than 150 campaigns are underway across the United States, Canada and Europe. The goal of the initiative is to bring attention to the link between conflict minerals and the financing of armed groups in Congo. We work to remove economic incentives from fueling violence in eastern Congo by advocating for better corporate policies from companies with which our institutions have relationships.
This is a critical moment of opportunity for U.S. policy towards the Great Lakes region of Africa. As special envoy to the region, you are in a unique position to facilitate change. We recognize the conflict in eastern Congo is complex and as such are working at the campus level to implement effective policies regarding our institutional commitment to a conflict-free minerals trade in Congo in a way that bolsters your efforts at the national and international levels. We look forward to working alongside you and supporting your work for peace in Congo.
As engaged student leaders committed to seeing an end to the crisis, we ask that you take a strong and deliberate stance on the following issue areas in order to forge an effective path toward peace in Congo:
1. Ensure that the peace process builds a conflict-free minerals trade and promotes regional development cooperation, changing the economic incentives from violence to peace. Great momentum is building around a conflict-free minerals trade, and it must have a place in the peace process. Without an economic focus, the peace process will falter. The U.S. must help bring about clean, fair, and transparent opportunities for jobs and investment in the region.
2. Build the infrastructure for peace. We must promote democracy and regional cooperation on security and economics by supporting democratic elections, the growth of an active civil society, and an end to the corruption and patronage that has hindered a genuine democratic transition in Congo. In cooperation with U.N. Special Envoy Mary Robinson, MONUSCO, and other stakeholders, we must address Rwanda’s role in the conflict and press Congo to begin a meaningful, genuine, and integrated security sector reform process. We should capitalize on this critical moment by laying the groundwork for sustainable democratic governance and a lasting peace.
Achieving our goal as student leaders—to help stop the trade in conflict minerals and encourage positive investment in the region—will only be possible if leaders like you, along with U.N. Special Envoy Mary Robinson, are successful in building a substantive peace process that takes into account the concerns of the Congolese people and addresses the core economic drivers of violence. We applaud you for your proven results in addressing these issues and for your consistent commitment to the Congolese people.
We wish you great success as you continue in this crucial position and look forward to working with you for peace and stability in Congo.