MAC: Mines and Communities

European Parliament surprise vote for stronger conflict minerals regulation

Published by MAC on 2015-05-21
Source: Statements, Mining.com, BBC, Parliament Magazine (2015-05-18)

In a surprise move, the European Parliament recently voted to require all EU importers of four specific minerals to be certified to ensure they do not fuel conflicts and human rights abuses. MEPs backed a law covering not just European importers that sourced minerals from conflict zones, but also companies that used those four materials - tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold (3TG) - in the manufacturing process.

This was a significant, and somewhat unexpected, victory. The European Commission was recommending much weaker - and more limited - voluntary checks, no doubt at least partly in response to concerted lobbying from industrial concerns.

Kudos should be given to those campaign groups who worked on the issue, and who have praised the vote as a "historic moment".

However, there are some caveats to this rosy picture. The first is that the legislative process is far from over. The Parliament has voted to enter into informal talks with the EU member states to seek agreement on the final version of the law, so much may change.

The successful amendments may improve the proposed law, but that could be because the starting point of the Commission proposals were so weak. Proposed provisions within the law from the EU's Committee on International Trade (INTA) would have been hopelessly ineffective, with diligence obligations only for around 20 companies, while the EU is the second largest importer of laptops and mobile phones.

Perhaps the biggest problem is that the legislation concentrates on the 3TG commodities, that are synonymous with the conflict in the Congolese great lakes region. While legislation covering these commodities is important, failing to open up to other types of minerals is a missed opportunity. There were attempts to include diamonds, which were rejected, but even that is too limiting. How will that relate to, for instance, other gems and jade exported from conflict areas in Myanmar? (See: Re-defining "conflict minerals" - an important new report).

Given the propensity of mining to cause conflict, the definition of what constitutes a conflict zone is surely too limited.

Yet, given the uphill struggle to get even these due diligence measures agreed, any future advocacy is likely to be a struggle to hold onto legislative gains rather than seeking to make any law more useful.

EU lawmakers surprise with vote on ‘blood metals’ ban

Cecilia Jamasmie

Mining.com

20 May 2015

The European Parliament unexpectedly voted Wednesday in favour of banning all products that contain conflict minerals from war zones in Africa, in a fresh effort to eliminate them completely from the European supply chain.

The main objective of the legislation is to ensure that profits from those so-called “blood metals” — tungsten, tin, tantalum and gold — do not go to warlords in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The lawmakers voted 402 to 118, with 171 abstentions, to make it mandatory for firms that buy such metals to certify their origin. The parliament had been expected to pass a watered down motion that would have made it largely voluntary for companies in Europe to responsibly source the materials from conflict areas.

The decision now has to be discussed with the member states and the European Commission, the executive of the 28-member EU, the European Parliament said in a statement.

However, experts fear EU governments will block the tougher legislation as it could be seen as an unrealistic burden on business.

Tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold are used in many consumer products in the EU, in particular by the automotive, electronics, aerospace, packaging, construction, lighting, industrial machinery and tooling industries, as well as in jewellery. The upcoming law potentially affects 880,000 EU manufacturers, most of which are small or medium-sized.

Officials said the standards will be based on the OECD Due Diligence Guidance recommendations, which are designed to help companies respect human rights and avoid contributing to conflict through their mineral purchases from conflict-affected and high-risk areas.


MEPs back tougher gold checks under 'blood minerals' laws

BBC News

20 May 2015
 
The trade in gold, tin and other minerals fuels conflict in many areas, say rights groups

Euro MPs have called for companies to carry out mandatory checks to stop "conflict minerals" entering Europe from war zones.

In an unexpected move, the European Parliament voted to require all EU importers of four minerals to be certified to ensure they do not fuel conflicts and human rights abuses.

The European Commission had recommended that checks be only voluntary.

Human rights groups praised the vote as a "historic moment".

The decision will now be discussed by member states and the European Commission

Amnesty International and Global Witness had originally warned that a voluntary system covering European businesses would have watered down the proposals.

Before the vote, the two groups were among more than 150 which signed a letter calling for binding rules that focused on more manufacturers and more materials.

MEPs decided to back a law covering not just European importers that sourced minerals from conflict zones but also companies that used the four materials - tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold - in the manufacturing process.

While an estimated 20 refineries and smelters would be directly affected, the EU also estimates as many as 880,000 firms would have to provide details on the measures they take to avoid the use of minerals from conflict areas such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes area of East Africa.

Many tech gadgets such as smartphones use conflict materials, so-called because they are mined in warlike conditions and traded by armed groups.

Campaigners had earlier complained that the scheme did not cover minerals and materials such as diamonds, jade and chromite, which are also known to be sources of conflict.


European Parliament defies lobbying to vote for strong conflict minerals regulation

Amnesty International & Global Witness Joint Newsflash

20 May 2015

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have made history today by voting in favour of a strong and binding law to tackle the deadly trade in conflict minerals, said Amnesty International and Global Witness.

Today’s vote determines the position with which the European Parliament (EP) enters into negotiations with Member States and the Commission to find an agreement on the law.

“This is a historic moment. MEPs have voted for a law that should make a real difference to the lives of those suffering under the trade in conflict minerals”, said Michael Gibb of Global Witness “Despite concerted efforts by big business to weaken the legislation, MEPs have clearly positioned themselves for a strong, binding law that is fit for purpose. This would put Europe at the helm of global efforts to clean up the minerals trade and encourage businesses to source minerals in a way that benefits local communities, not armed groups.”

“The European Parliament has sent a clear signal. European firms cannot turn a blind eye to the risk their operations contribute to human rights abuses abroad,” said Lucy Graham, legal advisor in Amnesty International’s Business and Human Rights team. “If the European Council follows suit, this law would represent a sea change in what is expected of companies when the minerals in their products come from countries riven by conflict.”

The groundbreaking proposal would require European companies importing four key minerals – tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold - to ensure their purchases are not contributing to conflict or human rights abuses in other countries. Crucially, the new law would also require European companies importing minerals in products, such as laptops and mobile phones, to source minerals responsibly for the first time.

Today’s vote determines the position with which the European Parliament (EP) enters into negotiations with Member States and Commission to find an agreement on the law.

For further information, please see yesterday’s press release: European Parliament looks set to cave in to big business over conflict minerals trade - https://www.amnesty.org/press-releases/2015/05/european-parliament-looks-set-to-cave-in-to-big-business-over-conflict-minerals-trade-1/

For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Stefanie Mair
Media & Communications Assistant
Amnesty International European Institutions Office
Email: aieur-comms[at]amnesty.eu
Telephone: +32 (0)2 548 27 73


No to Blood on Our Hands, No to Conflict Minerals

Jude Kirton-Darling,

Labour Member of the European Parliament for the North East of England

Huffington Post blog

20 May 2015

Socialist and Democrat Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) achieved an historic victory in Strasbourg this afternoon (Wednesday 20 May 2015), narrowly passing a vote that will ensure the European Union (EU) no longer trades in minerals that fuel conflict and violence.

For years the extraction, production and trade of minerals such as gold and tin have financed conflicts in some of the poorest regions of the world and lined the pockets of armed groups and military forces that have perpetuated unimaginable violence and human rights abuses. With very few rules in place to prevent these minerals from making their way to the UK and EU, they can be found everywhere across Member States, hidden in the jewellery we wear and the mobile phones we use every day.

Today marks an important first step in removing conflict minerals from the EU market and ensuring that we no longer have blood on our hands.

The EU has long led the way in legislating to guarantee traceability across food and natural resource supply chains and to prevent the entry of blood diamonds and illegal timber into the European market. Minerals will now be added to that list, bringing us closer to achieving our aim of promoting fair trade, protecting human rights and helping alleviate conflicts across the world.

Socialists and Democrats in the Parliament refused to accept a scheme proposed by the European Commission that was startling in its lack of ambition and scope, and which would have left EU legislation on the trade of minerals seriously lagging behind that of our American counterparts. We were not prepared to settle for an ineffectual system of voluntary compliance. We rejected legislation that limited regulation to importers, so excluding 99.95% of EU companies that trade or process such minerals and exposing EU smelters and refiners to unfair competition from unregulated companies operating outside of Europe.

Our proposals sought to make due diligence mandatory for all key companies involved in the minerals trade, from smelters to retailers, while taking into account their size and position in the supply chain. We also proposed a mechanism to expand the material scope of the regulation beyond gold and the '3Ts' (tin, tantalum and tungsten) in the future so that if a new mineral or metal is found to be linked with conflict and violence, it too will be included on the list of resources subject to EU legislation.

We know that it is only by applying rules equally across the entire supply chain, from mine to end product, that we can truly remove conflict minerals from the EU market, while at the same time ensure fairness and avoid a negative impact on jobs and economic development. This belief is backed by the hundreds of emails my Labour colleagues and I have received from concerned constituents urging MEPs to act.

The European Labour Party has, backed by our progressive colleagues, worked for months to build consensus among MEPs, supported by campaign groups, NGOs and churches active in Africa's great lakes region. Despite an uncompromising opposition from right wing factions in the European Parliament, who sought to block legislation at any cost, our hard work has paid off: we managed to convince enough MEPs to break ranks and put the promotion of human rights, peace and stability above profit margins.

The fight, however, is not yet over: we now need to get the support of a majority of the EU's 28 Member States before this important piece of legislation can be enacted. I hope that our own UK government will find itself on the principled side of this argument.

Jude Kirton-Darling is Labour MEP for the North East of England


European Parliament’s plenary vote on conflict minerals: A great step forward for the respect of human rights

CIDSE press release

20 May 2015

"When considering the European Commission's "conflict minerals" proposal in March 2014, today's vote in the European Parliament represents a great victory for communities affected by human rights abuses fueled by natural resource extraction. "

CIDSE, together with Bishops and citizens from around the world, welcomes the strong message that the European Parliament sent to the EU Commission and the Council" says Bernd Nilles, CIDSE Secretary General. "The Parliament's vote means that all European manufacturers and importers of components and final products containing the four minerals, such as mobile phones or cars, will be required to check their supply chains to make sure they don't fuel conflicts. This is a great step forward for the respect of human rights! European Member States cannot backtrack on this during the final negotiations."

The European Parliament's vote legally requires that all EU companies processing, importing and using tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold (3TG) act responsibly and undertake due diligence. This goes much further than the International Trade (INTA) committee proposal voted on 14th April, which only required European smelters and refiners to check their supply chains.

This evolution is a clear victory, though some gaps remain. The requirement needs to be better defined, to ensure that it qualifies as true due diligence. And many natural resources fueling conflicts around the world, such as copper or coal, are not taken into account in this regulation. But the message to the European Council and the European Commission is clear: A voluntary opt-in system for importers of raw materials is unacceptable.

The text will now go to Trialogue. Stefan Reinhold, coordinator of CIDSE's advocacy efforts on conflict minerals, said, "European Member States will now have the chance to support and further strengthen this legislation. There are many examples from around Europe, such as the Due Diligence law in France or the Modern Slavery Act in the United Kingdom, that show a clear trend to better regulate the activities of companies, so as to prevent their involvement in human rights abuses while giving guarantees to citizens that they are not complicit through their purchases."

CIDSE, the International alliance of Catholic development agencies, has coordinated a statement signed by 146 Church leaders from 38 countries on 5 continents, asking for strong regulation to achieve the objective of breaking the link between natural resources and conflicts.

CIDSE, together with Commission Justice & Paix and EurAc, has also coordinated a video-campaign action, in which over 8.000 European citizens have signed on to a letter urging Members of the European Parliament to strengthen the weak proposal made by the European Commission in March 2014."

END

Contact details:
Stefan Reinhold, CIDSE Advocacy coordinator on conflict minerals
+32 (0)2 233 37 51, reinhold(at)cidse.org

Notes to the editors:
CIDSE is part of a greater coalition of NGOs behind the conflict minerals campaign

About CIDSE
CIDSE is an international alliance of Catholic development agencies. Its members share a common strategy in their efforts to eradicate poverty and establish global justice. www.cidse.org

CIDSE members are: Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), CAFOD (England and Wales), CCFD - Terre Solidaire (France), Center of Concern (USA), Cordaid (the Netherlands), Development & Peace (Canada), Entraide et Fraternité (Belgium), eRko (Slovakia), Fastenopfer (Switzerland), FEC (Portugal), FOCSIV (Italy), Fondation Bridderlech Deelen (Luxembourg), KOO (Austria), Manos Unidas (Spain), MISEREOR (Germany), SCIAF (Scotland), Trócaire (Ireland)


 

Draft Regulation on responsible mineral sourcing: The European Parliament calls unambiguously for binding due diligence requirements covering the whole mineral supply chains!

EurAc press release

20 May 2015

The European Network for Central Africa (EurAc) welcomes todays’ European Parliament vote in Strasbourg demanding additional binding rules for companies importing minerals coming from conflict-affected and high risk areas into the EU market in raw form or as part of components or final products. This vote represents a great victory as a majority of the Members of the Parliament (MEPs) have put the protection of human rights above narrow economic interests.

“But the war is not won”, says EurAc President Nicolas Van Nuffel, “we call on the Council and the Commission to take into consideration the Parliament’s position now that will start the Trialogue discussions”. The EU legislative initiative needs to tackle the entire trade effectively in order to help break the links between the minerals trade, conflict and human rights abuses.

Trade in tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold (3TG) is fuelling conflicts which have had devastating consequences for people in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Colombia. By requesting mandatory compliance for "all EU importers" sourcing in conflict areas, including the "downstream" ones, MEPs overturned the weak Commission and international trade (INTA) committee’s proposals.

While time is still needed to analyse in details the technical implications of each one of the numerous amendments adopted today, European Parliament’s call is unambiguous. It calls for a comprehensive scope and approach and it shows that the EU can align better with international standards on responsible sourcing and complement existing binding rules adopted by the US and several African countries, including DRC.

Contact and information: frederic.triest[at]eurac-network.org ; +32 490 43 76 70.


Conflict minerals: MEPs ask for mandatory certification of EU importers

Plenary Session Press release - External/international trade

20 May 2015

EU importers of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold for manufacturing consumer goods need to be certified by the EU to ensure that they do not fuel conflicts and human rights abuses in conflict areas, say MEPs in their position on a draft law adopted on Wednesday by 402 votes to 118, with 171 abstentions.

Parliament voted by 400 votes to 285, with 7 abstentions, to overturn the Commission's proposal as well as the one adopted by the international trade committee and requested mandatory compliance for "all Union importers" sourcing in conflict areas.

In addition, "downstream" companies, that is, the 880,000 potentially affected EU firms that use tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold in manufacturing consumer products, will be obliged to provide information on the steps they take to identify and address risks in their supply chains for the minerals and metals concerned.

Request for mandatory certification

As metal smelters and gold refiners are the last point at which the minerals' origin can be effectively traced, MEPs go beyond the Commission's "self-certification" approach and call for smelters and refiners to undergo a compulsory, independent, third-party audit to check their "due diligence" practices.

Parliament also asks the Commission to grant financial support to micro-businesses and small and medium-sized firms wishing to obtain certification through the EU's COSME programme (EU programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises).

Strengthened review clause

Parliament also insists on tougher monitoring of the scheme, with a review two years after it is applied and every three years thereafter (instead of after three and six years respectively, as planned by Commission)

Geographical scope

The regulation applies to all conflict-affected high risk areas in the world, of which the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes area are the most obvious example. The draft law defines 'conflict-affected and high-risk areas' as those in a state of armed conflict, with widespread violence, the collapse of civil infrastructure, fragile post-conflict areas and areas of weak or non-existent governance and security, characterised by "widespread and systematic violations of human rights".

Next steps

In a vote of 343 votes to 331, with 9 abstentions, Parliament decided not to close the first reading position and to enter into informal talks with the EU member states to seek agreement on the final version of the law.

Note to Editors

Tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold are used in many consumer products in the EU, in particular by the automotive, electronics, aerospace, packaging, construction, lighting, industrial machinery and tooling industries, as well as in jewellery. The upcoming law potentially affects 880,000 EU manufacturers, most of which are small or medium-sized.

EU "Supply-Chain Due Diligence" standards will be based on the OECD Due Diligence Guidance recommendations, which are designed to help companies respect human rights and avoid contributing to conflict through their mineral purchases from conflict-affected and high-risk areas.

Procedure: Ordinary legislative procedure, 1st reading
REF. : 20150513IPR55318
Updated: ( 20-05-2015 - 16:21)


Green MEP reaction to European Parliament conflict minerals vote

Press Release

EU legislation aimed at preventing conflict minerals in supply chains was voted through today by MEPs in the European Parliament.

Greens had previously criticised the failure to ensure the rules apply throughout the supply chain however an amendment in favour of binding transparency rules for the entire supply chain was accepted.

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for South East England, said:

“The superb result of today's vote just goes to show how Europe can be a major force for good when countries and political parties from across Europe work together. The only way to effectively break the link with conflict financing is by creating a mandatory scheme for all companies that place these minerals on the European market. I'm pleased that MEPs from across the political spectrum have shown they understand this by voting in favour of binding transparency rules throughout the entire supply chain".

Ends

For more information or to request an interview please contact:

Joe Ryle
Media Officer
Office of Keith Taylor, Green MEP for South East England
CAN Mezzanine
49-51 East Road
London
N1 6AH, UK
Office: 0207 250 8418
Mobile: 07940 500633
Email: keithpress[at]greenmeps.org.uk
www.keithtaylormep.org.uk
Twitter: @GreenKeithMEP


We need a mandatory due diligence regulation on conflict minerals

Statement on behalf of PowerShift, CIR and Stop Mad Mining

The Parliament Magazine - issue 412

18 May 2015

The European Union depends heavily on imports of natural resources, such as minerals and metals that make up products like mobile phones. The exploitation and trade of these natural resources can lead in many countries to human rights violations and environmental destruction. Furthermore, in some countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia or Myanmar, the trade in minerals fuels violent conflicts and abusive actors.

The vote in the European Parliament on 19 May provides a landmark opportunity to tackle the trade in conflict minerals and better align Europe with international standards, including the UN Guiding Principles.

Civil society organisations, 140 church leaders, progressive business and investors have all called for a mandatory regulation that requires all companies importing minerals into the EU – whether in their raw form or contained in products – to carry out supply chain due diligence and publicly report in line with international standards.

The proposal by the Committee on International Trade (INTA) is far too narrow to be effective. It proposes due diligence obligations only for around 20 companies. For the vast majority of companies importing tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold (3TG), responsible sourcing remains entirely optional. As a result, INTA allows vast volumes of 3TG to enter the EU unchecked, and at risk of fuelling abuse and conflict.

By voting for due diligence obligations that apply to all 3TG imports the European Parliament has the historic opportunity to tackle the links between the trade in these minerals, and conflict and human rights abuse.

Michael Reckordt
PowerShift e.V.
Greifswalder Str. 4
10405 Berlin Germany
Tel.: +49-(0)30-42805479
E-Mail: Michael.Reckordt[at]power-shift.de

This statement has been published with the financial assistance of the European Union (but does not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union]


Conflict minerals rules can promote both human rights and trade

by Seb Dance

The Parliament Magazine

18 May 2015

It is an inescapable fact that many of the minerals and metals contained within the technology we use every day are procured from gangs, who use slavery and rely on cheap labour to increase their available income for reinvesting in armed conflict.

I write this following an impassioned speech to the European parliament by Sakharov prize winner Denis Mukwege, who continues to risk his own life by providing essential treatment to women and girls in conflict zones who have suffered from the horrific brutality of war, such as rape and slavery.

His words should make us all think about the priorities we hold as legislators. To ignore his fervent plea for action at a European level would be unforgivable.

By ensuring that we take action across the supply chain, we further bolster a key tenet of this commission's stated policy ambitions: that we achieve, where possible, policy coherence across different areas of the union's decision-making.

If we view the topic of certification as a purely trade issue that impacts industry in Europe, we are ignoring the root cause of the problem. Conflict, poverty and disease are bred from desperation. Regimes that provide for a fair wage, decent working conditions and increased confidence from export partners are far more likely to escape these factors.

Mukwege is calling for our legislation to place a mandatory commitment on the entirety of the supply chain. Not only does this ensure Europe's action is not less than that of China and the US, whose systems are mandatory, but it allows us to avoid the mistakes carried out in the US, where the exclusion of small firms has led to a market that is unfairly skewed towards larger companies.

Every day, victims of rape and abuse sustained either at the mines themselves or as collateral from warring factions seeking to control mineral-rich territories find their way - at great personal danger - to Mukwege's hospital.

His realisation was that without long-term change to the financing of conflicts in his home country of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the numbers of traumatised women and children would only increase.

We have a duty to share this realisation. We have a unique opportunity as a parliament to vote to say that we value human rights and human dignity as well as trade. We can vote to say that we understand that our decisions have the power to affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of people for the better, and we do so without the false belief that we must offset the importance of life for the importance of trade. Both are possible.
About the author

Seb Dance (S&D, UK) is a member of parliament's environment, food safety and public health committee


EU to vote on conflict minerals

Deutsche Welle

18 May 2015

The European Union is set to adopt a law that seeks to prevent trading commodities that finance armed conflicts. The US has such a law, and what remains of the European Parliament is to come up with its own version.

Minerals like gold, tin, tungsten and tantalum are essential in the manufacturing of laptops and cell phones. Yet many of such precious minerals originate in areas- mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa - plagued by wars and rebellions for decades.

In eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), various rebel groups have for years financed their activities through the trade of the so-called conflict commodities. Access to mines in most occassions has become an entry point to starting a war. This has been fueled by the global demand for technical devices which has also contributed indirectly to murder, expulsion and rape in countries such as the DRC.

The European Union (EU) wants to break this vicious circle. For years, the EU has struggled to come up with a concept that is intended to set up requirements for minerals coming from conflict areas. The EU Parliament will discuss the draft law on May 19, 2015, and adopt it the following day. The commission's proposal is that companies that trade in minerals like tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold, whether raw or smelted, must prove that the raw materials do not come from mines in conflict areas.

Voluntary or mandatory?

Michael Gibb, who works for the British-American NGO Global Witness, supports the EU law. His organization has set its goals to uncover and break links between natural resource exploitation.

"What we are asking the European Parliament to do, is to vote in favor of strong conflict mineral regulations that makes responsible, sustainable and transparent sourcing mandatory for all European companies doing business in conflict affected areas, whether they bring in raw ores and metals from these regions or whether they import products into the EU that contain these minerals," Gibb said.

According to Global Witness, the EU is the second largest importer of laptops and mobile phones. Proof of origin of the raw materials will be crucial but according to the EU draft it could be on a voluntary basis.

In the US, since 2010 production chains and IT companies that have to use gold, tin, tungsten or tantalum from the DRC or neighboring countries are aware of the Dodd-Frank Act. In its 1502 section, the act requires US-listed companies to disclose annually whether any conflict minerals that are necessary to the functionality or production of a product, originated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or a neighboring country and, if so, to provide a report describing, among other matters, the measures taken to exercise due diligence on the source and chain of custody of those minerals.

Loopholes in the Dodd-Frank Act

"The experience with the Dodd-Frank Act shows that for many companies to provide evidence of origin for the raw materials cannot be achieved. The production chains are too long and too complicated,” said Matthias Wachter, head of security and resources at the Federation of German Industries (BDI). He thinks this should be on a voluntary basis.

But according to Andreas Meinhart, a researcher at the Freiburg Institute for Applied Ecology and co-author of a study that examines the impact of the Dodd-Frank Act on behalf of the BDI, the law has meant that in order for many US companies to comply with the law, they have had to completely shun commodities from the Great Lakes region and the DRC.

A boycott of Congolese raw materials could deprive thousands of people's of their livelihood. Critics warn of the risk that the unemployed young men will have no other alternative but to join armed groups.

But the Dodd-Frank Act has also achieved many positive things: "In business and politics, it has become a huge issue, where our raw materials come and the conditions under which they are broken down and how to change that," Meinhart said .

Positive incentives needed

"The debate on voluntary or mandatory guarantees of origin of raw materials should not be a sticking point during the forthcoming decision by the European parliament," said Meinhart.

"What we need is a bold, and a responsible involvement in conflict zones, and this cannot be achieved through legal regulation. Because you can not force anyone to become involved economically in a conflict zone."


Open letter to the EU parliament on conflict minerals

Ahead of a landmark vote on a new conflict minerals law to be held in the European Parliament on 20 May 2015, 157 civil society organisations urgently call on Members of the European Parliament to vote for a law which will finally tackle the trade in conflict minerals and ensure that European companies do not benefit from and contribute to human rights abuses.

PDF version is available at https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/IOR60/1667/2015/en/

18 May 2015

The European Union is the world’s largest economy, the world’s largest trading block, and home to 500 million consumers. Every year, millions of euro worth of minerals flow into the EU from some of the poorest places on earth. No questions are asked about how they are extracted, or whether their trade fuels conflict in local communities. The EU has no legislation in place to ensure companies source their minerals responsibly. Now is the time for change.

Gold infographicThe trade in resources – such as gold, diamonds, tantalum, tin, copper and coal – continues to perpetuate a cycle of conflict and human rights abuses in many fragile areas of the world. These resources enter global supply chains and end up in products that we use every day, such as aeroplanes, cars, mobile phones and laptops. These goods connect us to the hundreds of thousands who have been displaced by conflict in the Central African Republic and Colombia. They connect us also to the thousands who have endured years of violence and abuse in parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and to the unknown victims of shadowy intelligence organisations in Zimbabwe.

In March 2014, the European Commission put forward a draft regulation to address the trade in conflict minerals that, if passed, would fail to have a meaningful impact. It covers just four minerals: tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold. It is entirely voluntary, giving 300-400 importers of those minerals the option of sourcing responsibly and reporting publicly on their efforts to do so, through a process known as “supply chain due diligence”. The law would only cover a tiny proportion of EU companies involved in the trade, and leaves out the tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold that enter the EU in products that we use every day.

The European Parliament’s International Trade Committee has since proposed some mandatory requirements – but these also apply to just a small fraction of the industry. The vast majority of companies involved – including some of those importing directly from conflict-affected and high-risk areas – would have no obligation to source responsibly. Companies importing products containing these minerals would be left entirely off the hook.

This is a landmark opportunity for progress. But the weak proposals on the table would leave Europe lagging behind global efforts, including mandatory requirements endorsed by the US and by twelve African countries.

You, as a Member of the Parliament, can make a difference. We are calling on you to vote on 20 May for a law that:
* Requires all companies bringing minerals into the EU – whether in their raw form or contained in products – to carry out supply chain due diligence and publicly report in line with international standards.
* Is flexible enough to cover, in the future, other resources that may be linked to conflict, human rights abuses and corruption.

Tackling the highly lucrative trade in conflict minerals will not, on its own, put an end to conflict, corruption or abuse. However, it is critical to securing long-term peace and stability in some of the most fragile and resource-rich areas of the world. As long as an illicit industry can flourish unchecked, the trade in conflict minerals will supply funds and motivation to violent and abusive actors. Those bearing the cost of our weak efforts to regulate this trade will be some of the poorest and most vulnerable citizens of the world. For them, inaction and irresponsible business comes at a serious cost.

Yours sincerely
1. Amnesty International
2. Global Witness
3. ABColombia
4. Ação Franciscana de Ecologia e Solidariede (AFES)
5. Access Info Europe
6. ACIDH, Action Contre l’Impunité pour les Droits Humains (Action Against Impunity for Human
Rights)
7. Acidi Congo
8. ActionAid
9. AEDH
10. AEFJN (Africa Europe Faith & Justice Network)
11. African Resources Watch (AFREWATCH)
12. AK Rohstoffe, Germany
13. ALBOAN Foundation
14. Alburnus Maior (The Save Rosia Montana Campaign)
15. Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC)
16. Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Thailand
17. Asociación Puente de Paz
18. Associació Solidaritat Castelldefels – Kasando
19. Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network
20. Ayar West Development Organization
21. Berne Declaration
22. BirdLife Europe
23. La Bretxa Àfrica
24. Broederlijk Delen
25. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
26. CATAPA
27. CCFD-Terre Solidaire
28. CEDIB (Centro de Documentación e Información Bolivia)
29. Centre for Civil Society, Durban, South Africa
30. Centro de Investigación y Estudios sobre Comercio y Desarrollo (CIECODE)
31. Chiama l’Africa
32. Chin Green Network
33. Chinland Natural Resources Watch Group
34. Christian Aid
35. CIDSE
36. CIR (Christliche Initiative Romero)
37. CNCD-11.11.11 (Belgium)
38. Coalition of the Flemish North-South Movement – 11.11.11
39. Comité des Observateurs des Droits de l’Homme (CODHO)
40. Commission Justice et Paix Belgique francophone
41. Community Management Education Center
42. Congo Calling
43. Cordaid
44. Cordillera Disaster Response and Development Services (CorDis RDS)
45. CORE
46. Diakonia
47. DKA Austria – Hilfswerk der Katholischen Jungschar
48. Earthworks
49. Ecumenical Network Central Africa / Ökumenisches Netz Zentralafrika
50. Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (Rt Revd Michael Doe, Chair)
51. Enough Project
52. Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF)
53. Ethical Consumer Research Association
54. European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ)
55. European Network for Central Africa (EurAc)
56. FASTENOPFER/ Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund
57. FDCL (Center for Research and Documentation Chile-Latin America)
58. FIfF e.V.
59. FIDH
60. Focus on the Global South
61. FOCSIV (a federation of 70 Italian Catholic NGOs)
62. Forum Syd, Sweden
63. Foundation Max van der Stoel
64. Franciscan’s OFM JPIC Office, Rome
65. Friends of the Earth Europe
66. Friends of the Earth Spain
67. Fundación Jubileo – Bolivia
68. The Gaia Foundation (UK)
69. GATT-RN
70. German NGO Forum on Environment and Development / Forum Umwelt und Entwicklung
71. Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
72. Global Policy Forum
73. Green Network Sustainable Environment Group
74. “Grupo Pro Africa” Network
75. Habi Center for Environmental Rights, Cairo
76. Hands of Unity Group
77. IBIS
78. Info Birmanie
79. Indigenous Peoples Link (PIPLinks)
80. Informationsstelle Peru (Germany)
81. INKOTA-netzwerk e.V.
82. Integrate: Business and Human Rights
83. International Indian Treaty Council
84. International-Lawyers.Org (INTLawyers)
85. Investors Against Genocide
86. Jamaa Resource Initiatives, Kenya
87. Jesuit European Social Centre (JESC)
88. Jesuit Missions
89. Jesuitenmission Deutschland
90. Jubilee Australia
91. Just Minerals Campaign
92. Justícia i Pau
93. Khan Kaneej Aur ADHIKAR (Mines minerals & RIGHTS)
94. kolko – Menschenrechte für Kolumbien e.V. (kolko – human rights for Colombia)
95. Koordinierungsstelle der Österreichischen Bischofskonferenz für internationale Entwicklung und Mission (KOO)
96. London Mining Network
97. Magway EITI Watch Group
98. Magway Youth Forum
99. Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MaCEC)
100. Medicus Mundi Alava
101. Milieudefensie / Friends of the Earth Netherlands
102. Mineral Policy Institute
103. mines, minerals & PEOPLE (MMP)
104. MiningWatch Canada
105. Mining Watch Romania Network
106. Misereor
107. Mundubat
108. Mwetaung Area Development Group
109. Myaing Youth Development Organization
110. The Natural Resource Women Platform
111. NITLAPAN-UCA, Nicaragua
112. Observatorio de Responsabilidad Social Corporativa
113. Oidhaco (a European network of 36 NGOs)
114. ONGAWA Ingeniería para el Desarrollo Humano
115. Organic Agro and Farmer Affair Development Group
116. Oxfam France
117. Partnership Africa Canada
118. PAX for Peace
119. Pax Christi, Deutsche Sektion
120. People for People
121. Polish Institute for Human Rights and Business
122. Pon and Ponnya Hill Resources Watch Group
123. PowerShift e.V. (Germany)
124. PREMICONGO (Protection des écorégions de miombo au Congo)
125. Publish What You Pay International
126. PWYP – Liberia
127. PWYP UK
128. REDES (a network of 54 NGOs)
129. Research Group “Human rights and globalization”
130. Réseau Belge Ressources Naturelles-Belgisch Netwerk Natuurlijke Rijkdommen
131. Rete Pace per il Congo
132. RODHECIC
133. Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF)
134. Servicio Agropecuario para la Investigación y Promoción Económica (SAIPE)
135. Shwe Gas Movement (SGM)
136. Sherpa
137. SJ Around the Bay
138. Slovak Centre for Communication and Development
139. Social Care Volunteer Group
140. Social Program Aid for Civil Education (SPACE)
141. SOLdePaz.Pachakuti
142. Solidarietà e Cooperazione CIPSI
143. SOMO
144. Stop Mad Mining
145. Südwind, Austria
146. SÜDWIND e.V., Germany
147. Swedwatch
148. Swiss Working Group on Colombia / Grupo de Trabajo Suiza Colombia
149. Synergies des Femmes pour les victimes des Violences Sexuelles (SFVS)
150. Torang Trust
151. Wacam
152. Walk Free
153. Wan Lark Rural Development Foundation Rakhaine (Arakan)
154. Welthaus Diözese Graz-Seckau
155. Welthaus of the Diocese of Linz
156. Zomi Student Association (Universities Myanmar)
157. 88 Rakhine Generation Social Development Organization

 

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