Mining the Disclosures 2015 is a deep analysis of corporate due diligence procedures that identify and address conflict minerals’ risks, human rights performance, and in-region impact. When companies increase their ability to trace the minerals of specific components back to the smelter level and beyond, and insist on sourcing conflict-free minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), they are changing the status quo. Because of Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act, more companies are recognizing that the human rights of miners and local families cannot be separated from the use of these minerals.
RSN Drives Conflict Minerals Reporting Beyond Compliance, Clarifies Differences in Scoring Methodologies
Responsible Sourcing Network’s (RSN’s) reporting efforts were recently mentioned in a Wall Street Journal blog alongside a new independent study funded by Assent Compliance. The study recognizes RSN’s indicators as the leading guide to assessing conflict minerals reporting “beyond-compliance.”
As a clarification, the “good practice” score in this newly released study uses RSN’s 2014 Mining the Disclosures indicators, but uses a different scoring methodology, resulting in different company scores.
The newest signatory to RSN’s Cotton Pledge, Primark made enhancements to its internal sourcing procedures throughout all apparel departments, demonstrating a commitment to eliminating human rights abuses throughout its supply chain.
RSN’s Cotton Pledge represents a combined commitment from over 170 international brands to ensure that child and adult forced labor does not find its way into their products. Pressure on the Uzbek government has led to less children being forced to work, but forced labor remains rampant in the cotton sector. Until the Uzbek government ends these abuses, signatories to the Cotton Pledge commit to avoid Uzbek cotton.
The Trafficking in Persons (TiP) report, released annually by the U.S. State Dept., has upgraded Uzbekistan from Tier 3 to Tier 2 Watch List, despite the continued widespread practice of state-orchestrated forced labor in the cotton sector. It’s a short-sighted decision that gives a free pass to the Uzbek government. Growing pressure from brands and companies that have signed the Cotton Pledge make it clear to the Uzbek government that business-as-usual cannot continue. But when the State Dept. whitewashes human rights abuses, our ability to pressure the Uzbek and Turkmen governments for reforms is diminished.
Responsible Sourcing Network (RSN) is excited to announce that it has joined the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC). SAC is a trade organization comprised of over 150 international brands, retailers, and manufacturers, among them adidas, C&A, Gap, H&M, Nike, Puma, Target, and VF Corporation. Members also include non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and government agencies. All of its members are committed to improving the sustainability and ethical sourcing of apparel and footwear.
Patricia Jurewicz, Founder and Director of Responsible Sourcing Network (RSN), recently published Reducing Child Labor in Uzbekistan: Lessons Learned and Next Steps in the UC Davis Journal of International Law and Policy, Volume 21. The article is focused on the multiple efforts and various strategies many non-governmental organizations (NGOs), corporations, foundations, and other stakeholders implemented to greatly reduce forced child labor in the cotton fields of Uzbekistan.
The deadline for the second annual conflict minerals disclosures to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was Monday, June 1. Companies that file the annual disclosures are bringing much-needed transparency to a minerals trade that has been linked to human rights abuses in the war-torn region centered in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Responsible Sourcing Network congratulates the internal teams and firms that worked hard on this round of reporting. Now it is time to review the disclosures, and RSN has developed tools to do so, guided by the principle that social impact is a vital part of the value – and risk – investors and consumers expect companies to measure.
On May 20, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted to end the importation of conflict minerals into the European Union. The Parliament opted for a scheme requiring mandatory compliance for “all Union importers” sourcing 3TG in conflict areas in addition to obligatory disclosure requirements detailing supply chain risk mitigation efforts for “downstream companies.” This scheme falls in line with a recent statement issued by global sustainable and responsible investors urging MEPs to expand the scope of the original proposal to include mandatory requirements for “downstream” (end-user) companies.
On May 13, 23 global, sustainable and responsible investors and investment organizations have come together to urge Members of the European Parliament to seize the opportunity of their upcoming vote to adopt robust conflict minerals regulations for the European Union. The European Parliament will vote on proposed regulation regarding the responsible sourcing of conflict minerals and associated requirements for European companies on May 20.
New Report on Forced Labor in Uzbekistan Cotton Harvest Released by the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights
A new report from the Uzbek-German Forum For Human Rights finds that although the Uzbekistan government did not systematically mobilize children throughout the country to pick cotton, as it had in previous years, it still forced more than a million of its own citizens to pick cotton, and officials extorted individuals and businesses, including multinational companies, at a larger scale as part of the annual Uzbek cotton harvest.
In order to help standardize the methodology for evaluating filings related to company performance in creating social value and mitigating social risk in the supply chain related to conflict minerals, RSN has developed the Indicators Shortlist: Measuring Performance in Conflict Minerals Reporting. This Shortlist is an update to our 2014 Expectations Shortlist for Companies Conflict Minerals Reporting. Far more detailed than the initial shortlist, this indicator set provides a measurement tool to track and compare activities with a clear and easily replicable methodology that can be used by investors.
As analysts of companies’ conflict minerals filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission, we at Responsible Sourcing Network received a welcome surprise this year: Apple filed its 2015 Conflict Minerals Report with the SEC more than three months early! We evaluate Apple’s performance using two of RSN’s four measurement areas: Promoting a Conflict-Free Minerals Trade and Reporting & Transparency.
In early 2014, RSN published Cotton Sourcing Snapshot, which surveyed 49 home goods and apparel companies and reported on what they were or were not doing to ensure Uzbek cotton picked with forced labor was not in their manufactured products. With new actions taken and additional information provided, the Cotton Sourcing Snapshot: 2015 Addendum offers another look at the companies that previously scored the lowest, including improved scores, trends, and best practices.
Read the addendum >>
The Sustainable Cotton Forum, 16th-17th March in London, brought together highly experienced practitioners and key NGOs around a focused agenda, in order to get to the core of the key issues surrounding the cotton supply chain. Responsible Sourcing Network Director Patricia Jurewicz spoke at the forum - Read a Q&A with Patricia Jurewicz on positive changes in cotton supply chains.
Responsible Sourcing Network Director Patricia Jurewicz was the Hearts on Fire ‘Visionary of the Week’. Click through to learn more about Patricia, her efforts to end slavery in the global cotton trade, and some steps you can take to make a difference.
Read more >>
Citizens took to the streets last week in cities throughout the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in response to proposed changes to the country’s electoral law that would lead to an unconstitutional extension of President Joseph Kabila’s presidency. The protests mark a continuation of the political and social unrest in the African state that often manifests itself surrounding the trade of 3TG conflict minerals—tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold.
Intel spoke with industry leaders, student groups, and other advocates to see what they’re planning to do in 2015 to keep consumer products conflict-free. Patricia Jurewicz, Director of Responsible Sourcing Network, offers her resolutions to help rid global supply chains of conflict minerals.
Read about it >>
Few people fully understand quite how prevalent conflict minerals like tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold actually are in our consumer goods. With this animated video commissioned by Intel and presented by Vice, we hope consumers can become more aware of the connection - and the responsibility - each one of us has to promoting peace and safety across the globe.
This post originally appeared as an op-ed in the Huffington Post.
Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Consumer Protection and Wall Street Reform Act — “the conflict minerals” clause — has attracted controversy concerning its effects on the ground in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the broader region whose conflicts the law intends to allay. Section 1502 was never intended as a stand-alone policy to bring peace and prosperity to Congo after two decades of conflict. The law has resulted in unintended consequences that must be addressed directly and urgently, yet the law has become a positive catalyst for change in the African Great Lakes. Read about it >>
With the 2014 Uzbek Cotton Harvest officially over, activists have begun to analyze the crisis. In this audio recording accompanied by photos from the harvest, Umida Niyazova of the Uzbek-German Forum (UGF), with the support of Matt Fischer-Daly of the Cotton Campaign, conveys data and stories from the 2014 harvest and talks about how it differs from last year. Read about it >>
As millions of dollars were spent on Black Friday last month by eager shoppers looking for a deal, the Enough Project launched a campaign to urge consumers to look beyond cost when considering their holiday purchases. Read about it >>
This post originally appeared as part of the As You Sow newsletter.
A new effort from Responsible Sourcing Network to verify spinning mills as being slave-free aims to drive the market away from cotton harvested with forced labor. Currently in the early planning stages, the Spinner Verification initiative will ensure that brands’ and retailers’ policies against forced labor in cotton harvesting are being adhered to by yarn spinners and textile mills. Read about it >>
The Walk Free Foundation has released the 2014 edition of the Global Slavery Index, estimating the number of people in modern slavery in 167 countries. It estimates that 35.8 million people are living in some form of slavery today. This is higher than the previous year’s estimate, which found 29.8 million people in slavery.
The Cotton Campaign and the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights have documented that the government of Uzbekistan used systematic, mass forced labor in the 2014 cotton harvest, which has recently concluded. In addition to coercing millions of people across the country to pick cotton, this forced labor system resulted in institutionalized harassment, extortion, and needless deaths.
The cotton harvest in Uzbekistan has ended this year, but forced labor orchestrated by the government of its own people is still deeply embedded into its production.
On September 24, private members bill C-486 was defeated in Canada’s parliament prohibiting the bill from receiving a second reading and referral. It had the intention of aligning Canada with other ongoing international efforts to reduce the trade in conflict minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and surrounding countries through mineral supply chain due diligence.
Read about it >>
Yesterday, global sustainable and responsible investors and investment organisations representing more than €855 billion in assets under management sent a joint statement to the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the European Council, urging EU policy makers to ensure more compatibility between the proposed EU conflict minerals regulation and Dodd-Frank Section 1502. Alignment of the European and U.S. regulations would set a strong unified international standard for conflict minerals due diligence and disclosure.
Tesco, World’s Second-Largest Retailer, Signs RSN’s Cotton Pledge as Annual Uzbek Cotton Fair Begins
Tesco has joined the fight against forced labor in Uzbek cotton by signing RSN’s Cotton Pledge. This support comes as the country prepares for the annual International Uzbek Cotton and Textile Fair, scheduled for October 14th and 15th in Tashkent.
If a handbag is stamped “made in Italy,” it may seem safe to assume that it is, well, entirely made in Italy. But it’s not so simple. RSN Director Patricia Jurewicz speaks with Marketplace about the difficulty of determining country of origin in complex supply chains with little transparency.
Hosted by the Institute for Supply Management, this podcast on conflict minerals in corporate supply chains features RSN Director Patricia Jurewicz and Jay Celorie, the global program manager for conflict minerals for HP.
The annual cotton harvest in Uzbekistan has officially begun as of Monday, September 8. Mass mobilization of civilians being forced to pick cotton is expected to begin on September 15.
Learn more >>
Two months ago, 1,314 conflict mineral reports poured into the SEC. RSN has been working to connect the dots between expectations and results for this historic first round of disclosures.
Read more >>
For the second year in a row, Uzbekistan has been placed in the lowest ranking possible in this year’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report released by the United States Department of State. Uzbekistan has not demonstrated to the U.S. government that it is making a significant effort to change its noncompliance with minimum trafficking standards. As a result, it faces possible punishment of sanctions.
With the inaugural round of conflict minerals disclosure reports submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Responsible Sourcing Network and a coalition of NGOs and sustainable and responsible investors have released a list of criteria to assist in evaluating the reports. Expectations Shortlist: Company Conflict Mineral Reporting and Activities features information that stakeholders expect to see in the SEC filings, on the issuers’ websites, or in sustainability reports.
This week, the D.C Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request from trade groups to temporarily suspend the SEC conflict minerals rule. Investors welcomed the decision, which leaves in place the requirement that companies complete their conflict minerals due diligence disclosure filings by the June 2nd deadline.
In response to the recent uncertainty over the conflict minerals rule, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), released a statement unequivocally defending the integrity of the rule and reinforcing the continued expectation for full company compliance by June 2, 2014.
Yesterday, the Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) Against Conflict Minerals, convened by RSN, had a face-to-face meeting with Special Envoy to the region, Russ Feingold, at his office in Washington D.C.
In a major landmark for conflict minerals disclosure, the SEC received yesterday the first-ever due diligence disclosure report filed in compliance with the Dodd-Frank conflict minerals rule. Learn more >>
One-Year Anniversary of Tragedy at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh
On the one-year anniversary of one of the worse workplace disasters in history, investors are reminding companies of their responsibility to address human rights abuses throughout their supply chains.
Federal Court’s Decision Allows SEC Conflict Minerals Disclosure Rule to Move Forward - But Investors Voice Concern over Invalidation of Key Requirement
Investors have issued a statement regarding the recent court opinion on the SEC 1502 conflict mineral rule. Although there is disappointment with the court’s protection against “compelled speech”, the large majority of the rule is intact and companies are still expected to disclose due diligence reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission by the end of May.
Read the Investor Statement>>
Learn more >>
On March 4th, after much anticipation, the European Union Commission proposed regulation for responsible minerals trading from conflict zones. While the EU deserves praise for taking definitive action on the issue, the recommended regulation has left campaigners and stakeholders underwhelmed. Advocates and experts say that without significant improvements, the regulation could fail to curb the human rights abuses it was designed to address. Read More >>
RSN Research Manager Karen Runde was invited to speak on a panel last week to discuss Supply Chain Transparency and Technology at this year’s RightsCon Silicon Valley Conference held at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco. Over 700 attendees from more than 65 countries and 375 institutions attended RightsCon, including some of the world’s leading human rights experts, investors, corporate leaders, engineers, activists, and government representatives. Read More >>
Responsible Sourcing Network’s new report Cotton Sourcing Snapshot: A Survey of Corporate Practices to End Forced Labor includes survey results and ratings of 49 companies reflecting actions they are taking to stop cotton from Uzbekistan picked with forced labor from entering their supply chains. The report provides an overview of industry challenges and best practices to give direction for a path forward.
Responsible Sourcing Network has been working closely with Intel and other industry leaders over the past three years to push for strong conflict mineral legislation and for supply chains to be accountable to human rights atrocities buried in the raw materials of their products. We applaud their achievement of launching the first conflict-free product on the market!