Cell phones fueled Africa’s “World War”

A small window of opportunity just opened this week that could finally break the cycle of weapons freely flowing in to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and conflict minerals irresponsibly being mined out.

Right now, the House of Representatives is weighing on a piece of legislation that would make it easier to identify imports into the United States that contain minerals such as coltan, cassiterite, wolframite – commonly found in cell phones, laptops and other electronic devices – used to fund the activities of armed groups operating in the DRC.

If Congress required companies to disclose the origins of the minerals used in their products, then we, as consumers, could be assured that the electronics and products we purchase do not directly finance conflict or fuel human rights abuses.

If Representatives don’t hear from constituents on this issue in a big way by the end of this week, then they are likely to put this issue on the back burner until next year when the new Congress is seated.

The link between the raging violence in eastern Congo (often referred to as the center of Africa’s “World War”) and the complex multimillion-dollar trade in conflict minerals is undeniable. A recent report by the UN found that armed groups in eastern DRC continue to control and profit from the extraction and trade of these minerals.

If passed, the Conflict Minerals Trade Act would go a long way in regulating this industry and ultimately restricting the ability of armed groups to benefit from conflict minerals.

Representatives can ensure that critical protections like these are enacted to help promote peace and security in the DRC:

  • Improving standards for transparency and accountability from companies involved in the extraction and trade of these minerals
  • Mapping the mines currently under control by armed groups
  • Providing support for further investigations by the UN Group of Experts

We must do our part to let Congress know that we care about where these resources come from.

Help break this cycle of violence. Tell your Representative to do everything possible to stop mining that fuels human rights abuses in the DRC.

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