Certification Seen Needed to Get Congo's Conflict Minerals out of Laptops, Cell Phones

Enough Project calls for 'credible international certification system' to ensure conflict minerals don't enter the supply chain

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Washington — May 10, 2011 — A credible international certification system is badly needed to ensure that minerals used to make tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold are not fueling rape and violence in Congo, the Enough Project non-governmental organization said in a report released earlier this month.

The report, "Certification: The Path to Conflict-Free Minerals from Congo," calls for an internationally accepted certification regime for tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold — the so-called "conflict minerals" — that builds on the lessons of the blood diamond and fair labor certification processes.

The Enough Project said that the certification process should build on and add robustness to the initial certification efforts by Congo and its neighbors through the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, or ICGLR.

The profits from mining conflict minerals are funding the armed commanders who have killed and raped on a mass scale and made the war in eastern Congo the deadliest conflict of this generation, with over 5.4 million people dead to date.

"The minerals that go into our automobiles, electrical products, electronic products, and jewelry need a certification system that has penalties and independent monitoring to weed out the products that fuel violence," said Enough Project co-founder John Prendergast. "This is an unparalleled moment to create real change in the Congo, act as a positive incentive after the legislation, and shine a light on this deadly trade."

A certification process for conflict minerals is a critical next step in creating responsible supply chains, the report states. Last year Congress passed legislation as part of the Dodd-Frank Finacial Reform Act that requires companies to trace and audit their supply chains for possible conflict minerals from Congo and its neighboring countries.

Several leading electronics companies are also advocating for certification. Hewlett Packard and Advanced Micro Devices have both been leaders in engaging the State Department for a credible certification process.

The report calls on the United States, through Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, to convene a senior partnership on certification with industry and the ICGLR.

"The United States, as the biggest consumer of these minerals in the form of electronics, is uniquely positioned to take the lead on certification, in partnership with regional governments, the private sector, and civil society," report co-author and Enough Project Policy Consultant Sasha Lezhnev said. "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Under Secretary for Economic Affairs, Robert Hormats, are the key actors who should conduct this process."

The full report "Certification: The Path to Conflict-Free Minerals from Congo" is available here.

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