Last year in the Democratic Republic of Congo, I spoke out against the trade in "conflict minerals" that has funded a cycle of conflict there that has left more than 5 million people dead since 1998, displaced countless more, and spawned an epidemic of sexual and gender-based violence.
President Obama has now signed into law a measure that will require corporations to publicly disclose what they are doing to ensure that their products don't contain these minerals. The DRC has formally expressed its support for this law and has thanked both the executive and legislative branches of our government. This is one of several steps we are taking to stop this illicit and deadly trade.
After my visit to the Congo, I directed the State Department to develop a holistic strategy on this issue as part of our broader effort to engage effectively with the DRC. We continue to work with the government to crack down on corruption, both bilaterally and through the Great Lakes Contact Group. At the United Nations Security Council, we successfully pushed to expand the listing criteria in the DRC Sanctions Committee to include those supporting illegal armed groups through illicit trade of natural resources. We have provided support for initiatives on certification and due diligence that have been initiated by the Government of the DRC, local and foreign industry groups, and regional and international institutions. And we have met with a wide range of industry representatives and discussed the responsibility of end-users to ensure their supply chains are free of conflict minerals.
All of these steps underscore the commitment of the United States to stand with the people of Congo and to work toward an end to this conflict.