Stop your gadget greed from fueling tragedy in Congo
As consumers, we can use buying power to end this deadly war driven by "conflict minerals."
(Page 2 of 2)
Industry leaders such as Apple, Nokia, Hewlett-Packard, or Nintendo have an obligation to ensure that they are not contributing to human rights abuses at any point along the supply chain. This will require them to change their procurement practices and to demand that their suppliers provide proof of where their minerals are sourced from.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
We also must develop the means to hold corporations accountable. To that end, we are asking companies to publicly pledge that their products will be verifiably conflict free over the next year.
According to CNN, some companies already have policies on minerals from DR Congo. Motorola, Apple, HP, Nokia, and Research in Motion Ltd. all say they bar suppliers from selling them Congolese ore containing tantalum. But most of these policies only refer to tantalum and neglect the other minerals of concern. Moreover, these are merely written assurances that do not provide proof of where the minerals actually come from. They are not verified by any independent source. That is why we need more definitive proof through tracing and auditing.
Thankfully, legislation has been introduced in Congress requiring companies to disclose the origins of their minerals. This would put the burden of proof on companies to prove that they are not sourcing their minerals in ways that finance armed groups in Congo.
We do not want companies simply to turn their backs on eastern Congo. Electronics companies that profit from this trade owe it to the millions of Congolese whose livelihoods depend on mining to help transform the mineral trade into an engine of empowerment, rather than fuel for atrocities.
Today we can use the technologies that have fueled Congo's atrocities to put an end to mass atrocities and to help build a hopeful future for suffering Congolese families. Millions of lives have been at stake. We must use our purchasing power responsibly and consciously and demand that President Obama, Congress, and our electronics companies do all they can to help end the violence.
We have a unique opportunity to use the very instruments of Congo's suffering to help end it. Can you hear Congo now?
Sheryl Crow is a nine-time Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter. John Prendergast is cofounder of Enough, the project to end genocide and crimes against humanity at the Center for American Progress, a Washington think-tank.