On September 14, 2017, as part of H.R.3354, the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, 2018, the House of Representatives passed an amendment to defund the implementation, administration and enforcement one of America’s latest peace, human rights and democracy promotion laws. This law is called Conflict Minerals and it is the 1502th section of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. Currently we are advocating for the Senate to reject Representative Bill Huizenga’s amendment when they take on H.R. 3354. American citizens are encouraged to reach out to their senators and ask them to reject this amendment.
What is Dodd-Frank, Section 1502 about?
The law reads: “It is the sense of Congress that the exploitation and trade of conflict minerals originating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is helping to finance conflict characterized by extreme levels of violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, particularly sexual- and gender-based violence, and contributing to an emergency humanitarian situation…” Lawmakers included section 1502 in the financial reform law because the world’s demand for these natural resources from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – gold, tin, tantalum, and tungsten – helped finance, through trade, war in the country. The law simply requires that companies registered with the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) carry out due diligence and disclose whether or not their products contain conflict minerals from the DRC and adjacent countries.
Popular Electronics Company is for Conflict Free Mineral
Motorola is one of many companies which does not want to go back to lawlessness. On their website, the company writes, “Our products contain various metals, including tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold, which we source from mines around the world. Some of this production comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and neighboring countries, where political instability and lack of security have allowed mines to be exploited by armed groups. Any association with financing armed conflict is unacceptable to us, and we have engaged extensively across our supply chain to seek solutions to this problem.”
Dodd-Frank 1502 Positive Outcome
On June 1, 2017, the Enough project issued a statement in which Sasha Lezhnev, Associate Director of Policy, stated, “The Dodd-Frank law on conflict minerals is having a concrete impact in helping get guns out of mines in Eastern Congo. Seventy-nine percent of miners in tin, tantalum, and tungsten mines surveyed now do not work under the threat of armed groups, 379 mines in Congo have been certified as conflict-free, and 76 percent of the world’s conflict mineral smelters have passed independent third-party audits, meaning the market for untraceable minerals is drastically shrinking. This shift is due in large part to companies placing increased scrutiny on their suppliers as a result of Dodd-Frank 1502 and efforts by leading companies such as Apple and Intel.”
The Case Against Defunding the Conflict Mineral Law
More than 5 million people (equivalent to the population of Colorado) is believed to have died from war and war-related causes since 1996, and rebel groups still are causing death and destruction in many parts of the Congo. Currently, the security situation continues to struggle and is expected to worsen given the political crisis surrounding the overdue presidential elections to replace the current one whose term expired in December 2016.
There are still many rebel groups active in eastern DRC, and any cash flow to them would expand their activities. Just in the last two months there has been major fighting with rebel groups in North Kivu and South Kivu provinces.
- October 6, 2017: the base of the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Butembo, North -Kuvu was attacked by a militia.
- October 5, 2017: several fighters of Mai-Mai Mazembe militia were killed in a military campaign in several localities in Lubero.
- October 2, 2017: the army launched an offensive against a coalition of the following militia groups in South Kivu province: Raia Mutomboki Hama Kombo, Shukuru, Shabani and Butachibera.
- September 27, 2017: the city of Uvira which shares borders with the Burundian Capital, Bujumbura was a war zone because the army was fighting with Mai-Mai militia.
- September 18, 2017: the army killed 36 and injured more than 100 Burundian refugees who fled the political crisis in their country. Congolese army says that they were Burundian, suspected to be members of a Burundian rebel group which is working with Congolese militia. But the Burundian government condemned the act and asked for an explanation to the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC and the United Nations refugee agency.
These are the same rebel groups previously deprived of cash flow by Dodd-Frank 1502. A repeal of the law or even defunding it would be a nice gift to these rebel groups to enable them to spread war across the DRC as well as neighboring countries such as Burundi which is currently experiencing political unrest.
Let us Take Action
Our combined efforts will help keep the gains we have made thanks to the passage of Dodd-Frank 1502. Before it passed in 2010, you, our supporters, called members of Congress and wrote letters while we at AFJN travelled to the DRC Mukera in South Kivu and Goma in North Kivu, amid security threats, so we could listen to people on the ground and better understand the issue. Upon our return we contributed to making the case for the law based on the people’s story. Please don’t allow us to take a step backwards and undo what we have already fought so hard for. There is power in numbers. Please do your part now and become a peace builder. We are asking that you call your Senator with this message: “My name is [your name] from [your town/city]. I am calling to ask you to vote ‘No’ on any amendment to repeal or defund section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. This is the conflict mineral provision. I support this provision because it is a peace law. I will be following how you vote. Thank you.”
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