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22 Aug 2014

Jude Soundar & Alex Newton, Ethical Corporation

Discussion of implications of human rights violations in Dem. Rep. of Congo for electronics industry

"Blood in your mobile", 14 Aug 2014

...[P]rogress on the issue of conflict minerals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has taken a long time to travel a short way....In an attempt to address these severe human rights violations, in 2010 Congress enacted section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. It requires regulated entities to disclose to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) whether any of their products contain conflict minerals originating from the DRC. Where products do contain DRC conflict minerals, public companies must submit a report to the SEC disclosing the source and chain of custody of the minerals....The first disclosure reports under the Dodd-Frank provisions were due on 2 June 2014...According to Oren Ben-Zeev, a consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers who assists companies to comply with the disclosure process, the chain of custody of conflict minerals is difficult to establish...According to most experts, smelters and refiners are the main “choke point” of the conflict mineral supply chain...Though the Commerce smelter list has been delayed, headway has been made to create independently verified conflict-free supply chains. For example, many major tech firms including Apple, Hewlett-Packard, and Intel are members of the industry-led Conflict Free Smelter Program....[T]he International Conference for the Great Lakes Region in the DRC introduced its own conflict minerals certification scheme for the great lakes region...The Fairphone initiative, based in Amsterdam, offers the first conflict mineral free smart phone, and Intel now manufactures a conflict mineral free microprocessor. Raise Hope for Congo, a campaign of NGO the Enough Project, ranks electronics companies based on their actions to contribute to a clean minerals trade in the DRC.