Representatives from the consumer electronics, automotive, jewelry and manufacturing industries met today at the Department of State with Under Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs Robert Hormats, Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson. The group discussed steps that can be taken to ensure that their supply chains do not contain conflict minerals that have fueled the ongoing conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
“This is an important conversation. We are working towards the common goal of ending the use of conflict minerals from the DRC,” Under Secretary Hormats said.
Minerals like tungsten, tin, tantalum and gold are used in a range of industries, including electronics, jewelry and automotive. Armed groups and military units in eastern DRC have used debt, coercion and physical violence to force villagers to extract these minerals from local mines. Proceeds from the illicit sale and trade of these metals are used to perpetuate the cycle of conflict, human trafficking physical and sexual violence and human rights abuses.
“We wanted to hear about the work that end-user industries are doing on due diligence. While there is much to do, we were pleased to hear about the efforts of the electronics industry to address supply chains,” said Under Secretary Otero.
Assistant Secretary Carson said that “resolving the conflict in the Great Lakes area and bringing peace and stability to the DRC is a top State Department priority.”
A representative of the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) stated, “Together, the EICC and GeSI will continue to develop a systematic approach to keep our supply chains free of conflict minerals and support legitimate sourcing from the DRC. We were encouraged to learn about diplomatic efforts to address the conflict minerals issue.”
Today's meeting is part of a larger process initiated by the Department of State and other agencies to support multilateral due diligence guidelines that reduce illicit exploitation of natural resources and promote legitimate and responsible sourcing from the DRC, emphasize the importance of transparency by the private sector with respect to minerals, and work with all regional and international partners to deter trade in conflict minerals.