Powering Down Corruption: Tackling Transparency and Human Rights Risks from Congo’s Cobalt Mines to Global Supply Chains

Author: Annie Callaway, Enough Project, Published on: 30 October 2018

Throughout 2017 and 2018, my colleagues at the Enough Project have conducted field and supply chain research on potential links between corruption, violence, human rights violations, and cobalt mining in Congo. As a result of this research, the Enough Project will be publishing two reports—this being the first—that highlight perspectives from the two ends of the supply chain. This first report focuses on observations and recommendations from within Congo, including Congolese cobalt and copper miners in both the artisanal and industrial sectors, domestic traders, civil society activists, and local government representatives. We wanted to start by understanding the perspectives of those most impacted by the global cobalt trade. The second report will highlight the actions – current and potential – being taken by those profiting from and otherwise benefiting from Congo’s cobalt, including both companies and their customers...

Both reports will incorporate perspectives from stakeholders throughout the supply chain, because all of these stakeholders have distinct perspectives and needs, and the changes that are needed ultimately implicate all involved. This research is meant to serve as a complement to other studies on Congo’s cobalt sector conducted by colleague organizations such as Amnesty International, the Carter Center, and Global Witness...In addition to the reports, the Enough Project will also be launching an associated campaign to engage activists and consumers on policies that counter corruption, violence, and human rights abuses connected to Congo’s cobalt trade. The campaign will focus on highlighting opportunities for companies to become leaders on these issues...

A Congolese representative from a nongovernmental organization focused on natural resource transparency further warned: “The increase in international demand for cobalt is likely to trigger a cobalt rush with more militarization of the mines and more human rights violations. …The political and security landscape being volatile in Congo, advocacy organizations and [companies] can choose to be preemptive now or wait [to take action] until the situation gets out of control.”... 

Recommendations...Conduct thorough and consistent due diligence and public reporting, with attention to corruption-related risks...[Refers to AngloGold Ashanti, Apple, Glencore, Ivanhoe Energy, Randgold & Tesla Motors].
 

 

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