USA: Reject legal threat to lifesaving Conflict Minerals Rule

6 January 2014

Minerals from conflict zones are used in a range of popular consumer products, including mobile phones, computers, light bulbs and tin cans.Minerals from conflict zones are used in a range of popular consumer products, including mobile phones, computers, light bulbs and tin cans.

© Spencer Platt/Getty Images

This legal challenge to the Conflict Minerals Rule is nothing but a crass effort by industry groups to put profits ahead of principles

Steven Hawkins, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA
Mon, 06/01/2014

US corporate interests must not be allowed to invalidate the Conflict Minerals Rule, which requires companies to investigate and disclose whether their products contain certain minerals that help fund armed groups in mineral-rich countries in Africa, said Amnesty International today.

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear a challenge by three industry groups against the rule on Tuesday. Amnesty International joined the lawsuit to support the rule.

“This legal challenge to the Conflict Minerals Rule is nothing but a crass effort by industry groups to put profits ahead of principles,” said Steven Hawkins, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA.

“The rule was required by Congress to save lives and stop human rights abuses by curbing the flow of funding to armed groups operating with impunity in the areas these minerals are mined – in Democratic Republic of the Congo and other central African countries.”

The Conflict Minerals Rule was required by the US Congress in 2010 as part of a raft of measures to reform business practices after the 2008 economic downturn.

Minerals from conflict zones are used in a range of popular consumer products, including mobile phones, computers, light bulbs and tin cans.

As well as a longstanding armed conflict in eastern DRC, where many of the minerals to manufacture such products are found, fresh armed conflicts have recently broken out in its mineral-rich neighbours Central African Republic and South Sudan.

The link between armed groups and the minerals trade is well-documented, including in authoritative reports by United Nations-appointed experts.

In 2010, the US Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in a bid to enhance transparency and help consumers and investors make more informed decisions. It targeted the trade in and exploitation of minerals in DRC and surrounding countries because it recognized that companies’ use of such minerals fuels demand, which in turn funds the armed groups involved in conflict.

When the Act was being drawn up, the US Chamber of Commerce and other business groups unsuccessfully tried to weaken the Conflict Minerals Rule. [Read more]

One thought on “USA: Reject legal threat to lifesaving Conflict Minerals Rule

  1. This requirement effectively constitutes a private sector embargo on the R.O.C. It will only make one of the poorest nations in the world even poorer. And, it will turn brutal anarchist rebels into desperados. This will most certainly make them even more brutal. It will also cost a lot of U.S. supply chain workers (not CEO’s, VP’s or members or the Board but working stiffs) their jobs. And, it will put a severe burden on hundred of thousands of small companies that are not publicly traded, but have the misfortune to be in the supply chain of publicly traded companies. Some will lose business because they do not have the resources/manpower to comply with this onerous, complicated record-keeping nightmare. The private sector is being forced into the U.S. international affairs business. If the U.S. wants to put an embargo on the R.O.C., (ie…Cuba, Iran…) then just do so. The private sector should not have to bear this burden. Companies are bringing in perfectly legal products, above board, and are being penalized for issues happening thousands of miles away over which they have no control. If the U.S. wanted to stop the importing of these materials (as they have Cuban cigars for decades) then simply make them illegal and let U.S. customs handle it.

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