RSN Updates

Read our updates to learn more about RSN’s work.

Wednesday
Jan282015

Protests Across DRC Signal Opposition to Kabila’s Continued Rule

Joseph Kabila, president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for the past 14 years, is facing calls to step down amid protests and social unrest.

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.

Joseph Kabila has been president of the country for the past 14 years, with his final term set to end in 2016 with the election of his successor. However, a change recently introduced to the country’s electoral laws by Kabila himself would require a countrywide census to be completed before the next election to reflect updated voter registration lists. Opponents allege that it is simply a last-ditch attempt to sustain his presidency past his final term deadline since census proceedings in the country the size of Western Europe would take years.

In response to the proposed electoral changes early last week, opposition leaders urged citizens to mobilize and protest the suggested amendments. Citizens gathered in protests all around the country for four days to express their dissent for the changes. According to The Guardian, students at Kinshasa University shouted “Kabila get out” in the face of police forces standing by.

According to coverage from Human Rights Watch, the protests quickly turned violent as the government security forces turned to “unlawful and excessive force” in reaction to the protests. Human Rights Watch confirmed 36 people dead in Kinshasa and an additional four killed in protests in Goma. Of these, the campaign group asserts that at least 21 people were fatally shot by security forces. Opposition leaders were also arrested arbitrarily while the government shut down all Internet and text message communication on January 20 only partially restoring it two days later.

Following multiple days of protest and unrest, the Senate passed an amended version of the law reiterating that the Constitution’s electoral timeframe would not be disrupted and that the election would not be reliant on census completion.

These mass demonstrations signal popular opposition to Kabila’s presidency and present evidence to suggest that Kabila’s powerbase may be eroding. It is critically important that the 2016 elections are conducted in accordance with the country’s espoused commitment to democracy. As a global powerhouse of highly valued minerals (including the 3TG conflict minerals), it is essential that the minerals trade in Eastern DRC is overseen and managed by a head of state who is dedicated, transparent, and accountable. An empowered population with trust in the electoral system through free and fair elections is critical to reaching a conflict-free DRC. A conflict-free minerals trade is dependent on the legitimized and trusted government necessary to achieve a conflict-free DRC.

Through supply chain innovations in conflict-free sourcing, the trade in conflict minerals and the overall security situation in the East is finally transforming after years of mineral-fuelled rebel conflict. The current unrest is confirmation of the need for conflict-free supply chains, and proof that more than ever these initiatives must be supported and advanced by the country’s next executive in order to continue the progress made to end the deadly conflict in the Eastern DRC.

Friday
Jan232015

Response to Responsible-Investor Article Highlighting the Positive Impact of 1502 on Conflict Minerals

RSN Director Patricia Jurewicz, along with sustainable and responsible investors from Boston Common, Calvert, and Trillium penned an op-ed for Responsible-Investor magazine. In it they highlight the need to educate readers about the efficacy of the Dodd-Frank 1502 rule despite the measure of uncertainty created by a legal challenge to the rule.

The op-ed addresses how companies are currently complying with the law by implementing due diligence and reporting to the SEC, the precedent that the legislation is setting for mandatory disclosures related to human rights concerns, and the positive impact the law is having in the DRC and the Great Lakes Region of Central Africa.  

The full response is freely accessible on the Responsible-Investor website.

Thursday
Jan152015

2015 Conflict-Free Resolutions: Perspectives on the Year Ahead

New Year’s is a time to make resolutions to commit to actions that improve the world around us. 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.

  1. I resolve to investigate and report on the quality of companies’ conflict minerals disclosures to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in promoting transparency and accountability in supply chains.
  2. I will encourage companies beyond the electronics industry to join the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSI) and the Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG), and support the Audit Committee of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) in establishing credible mine audit systems and verifying an increased amount of conflict-free mines.

Read the full article with conflict-free resolutions from other advocates and industry leaders >>>

Monday
Jan052015

Conflict Minerals in Your Daily Life

More and more people have heard of conflict minerals, the ore extracted from the ground via unsafe and abusive labor conditions financing violent rebel groups and militias. However, 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.

If you have the choice, please use your shopping dollars to support the participants of the DRC Conflict-Free Multi-Stakeholder Group. We are all working to make a difference for the people of the Congo and we need you to do your part as well!

Monday
Dec292014

We Can't Do It On Our Own

As one of our corporate colleagues said recently, “We need concrete tools to assist the industry in avoiding raw materials tainted with forced labor. It is extremely difficult to do it all on our own.”

She’s right. We all want to see corporations completely eliminate slavery and violent human rights abuses from their supply chains, but the complexity of global commodity trading and lack of transparency makes it hard for them to do it on their own.

But with 35.8 million slaves recently listed on the Global Slavery Index, there is an urgent need to build the systems and tools that WILL make it possible - systems built in a credible and transparent way that gives confidence to consumers, investors, and companies.

Help us establish and expand slave-free sourcing tools, with your year-end gift to Responsible Sourcing Network.

Donate

Your year-end giving to Responsible Sourcing Network is more important this year than ever. In addition to our core programs in conflict minerals and anti-slavery sourcing, we have one of the most exciting projects in our history in the works: creating a Slave-free Spinner Verification tool for the cotton apparel industry. We intend to build an industry-wide initiative to drive the market away from cotton picked with slave labor.

In addition to establishing the Slave-free Spinner Verification initiative, we’re also:

  • Upping the bar on conflict minerals SEC disclosures by publishing a report on the leader and laggard companies’ first year conflict mineral reporting
  • Encouraging more companies and their suppliers to participate in the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative and Conflict-Free Smelter Program
  • Coordinating multi-stakeholders around harmonizing international conflict mineral regulation

Help us encourage transparent and accountable sourcing with your year-end gift to Responsible Sourcing Network.

Donate

We are moving the needle on these issues. The progress we make is the result of long-term engagement, and crafting and implementing concrete solutions. Please give generously, to help us end slavery and create economic prosperity in the world’s most vulnerable communities.

Sincerely,

Andrew Behar Andrew Behar Signature Andrew Behar
Chief Executive Officer
As You Sow
Patricia Jurewicz Patricia Jurewicz Signature Patricia Jurewicz
Director
Responsible Sourcing Network