Conflict Minerals Program Overview

The Minerals Program at the Responsible Sourcing Network promotes systems that ensure the responsible mining and transport of minerals from point of extraction through to the manufacturing of products. By encouraging coordinated action from a diverse group of stakeholders, we are addressing the most egregious human rights abuses that are occurring in the supply chain of electronics components. Solutions require mineral value chains that are transparent, traceable and accountable.

The Problem

The DRC is one of the most mineral-rich countries in the world, with sizeable deposits of gold, tantalum, tin and tungsten in its eastern region. Unfortunately, according to the United Nations, a large amount of taxes, bribes or other payments are demanded in eastern Congo by warring armed groups for the extracted minerals. Minerals supporting violations against international laws which are extracted from conflict zones are referred to as conflict minerals. The majority of the Congolese minerals are smuggled to the neighboring countries of Rwanda and Burundi where they are sold to smelters, and ultimately find their way through complex supply chains into finished consumer and industrial products. This practice provides armed groups with a robust funding source and hinders peace efforts.

Since 1996, the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has claimed at least six million lives. Further, rape, sexual violence, torture, forced labor and use of child soldiers have been used as a tool of war to degrade communities and displace people. As Global Fund for Women reports, more than 500,000 women have been raped over the past decade in the Congo.

The link between revenue generation from minerals and the purchase of weapons and exploitation of people is strong and has been well documented. This is the link we are looking to sever to help bring peace and stability to the region and ensure the products we are consuming are not contributing to the egregious violations happening in the Congo.

Download the chart of the key conflict minerals from eastern Congo and the common products they are found in.

 

What We Are Doing

The Responsible Sourcing Network operates within a broad network of NGOs, companies from the electronics, communications and other industries, investors, and industry associations seeking to end revenue generation from conflict minerals and bring an end to the war.

Contributing to a multi-stakeholder network is in its nascent stages. The Responsible Sourcing Network began to host multi-stakeholder calls in December 2009. In May 2010 we co-hosted a meeting with Business for Social Responsibility that brought together over 100 people for two days of brainstorming about collaborative solutions. The three main strategy areas for action are responsible supply chains, diplomacy and economic development. The BSR Overview (pdf) outlines a number of the action items proposed by various stakeholders.

Monthly Multi-stakeholder Conference Call Hosted by RSN

RSN hosts a monthly Multi-Stakeholder Group conference call to have those working on different initiatives involving the Congo, such as the Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Mineral Trade (PPA), the Conflict Free Smelter Program (CFS), or the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), give updates.

The call is open to companies, investors, NGOs and academics.

If you are interested in becoming involved in the multi-stakeholder efforts on conflict minerals, please contact us at info@sourcingnetwork.org.

What Consumers Can Do

  1. Before you purchase products with electronic components, check companies’ websites to see if they have developed policies on conflict minerals. Reward those companies who are taking action on this issue.
  2. Spread the word to friends and family about conflict minerals from the Congo to help raise public awareness of the millions of people who have perished there and the tens of thousands of women who are being sexually abused every month.
  3. Check out our resource pages for the latest information and links to others in our network who strive to end the war in the Congo.

What Investors Can Do

  1. Investors can sign the investor statement.
  2. Before investing in a company that mines or trades minerals or manufactures or uses products with electronic components, check companies’ websites to see if they have developed policies on conflict minerals. Reward those companies who are taking action on this issue.
  3. Pay attention to the proxy statements for companies you are currently invested in and if they contain resolutions calling for risk analysis or policies to ensure conflict minerals are not in the companies’ supply chains, vote for those resolutions.
  4. Spread the word to friends and family about conflict minerals from the Congo to help raise public awareness of the millions of people who have perished there and the tens of thousands of women who are being sexually abused every month.
  5. Check out our resource pages for the latest information and links to others in our network who strive to end the war in the Congo.

What Companies Can Do

  1. Create and publicly state a policy that acknowledges the problem of conflict minerals and communicate what the company is doing to eradicate them from its supply chain.
  2. Join multi-industry efforts to ensure minerals are being sourced from responsible sources and implement internal practices to ensure all of the raw materials in its supply chain are responsibly sourced.
  3. Participate in multi-stakeholder efforts to encourage stronger diplomatic solutions for the Great Lakes region to end the violence and empower local communities through economic development and capacity building.