Conflict minerals legislation is being discussed in Europe and will soon be debated in the European Parliament. This is a landmark occasion.
For too long, the trade in minerals and other natural resources has funded brutal conflicts and fuelled human rights abuses worldwide.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia and Central African Republic the minerals trade has fuelled deadly conflict and displaced 9.4 million people. This is a global problem.
The minerals can enter global supply chains and end up in products, such as your mobile phone, laptop, jewellery, car or light bulb.
The US and 12 African countries have measures in place requiring companies to source minerals responsibly. Despite being a key player and importing almost a quarter of the global trade in tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold, the EU has none.
Except a toothless proposal that is on the table. The European Commission is offering up a voluntary scheme - meaning most companies won’t even have to abide by it. Plus, it only covers a paltry 0.05% of European companies involved in the trade. It is unlikely to have any significant impact on the trade in conflict minerals. You still won’t know if the companies selling your favourite purchases are acting responsibly.
Parliamentarians, alongside our governments, must overhaul the law in order to change the way companies source natural resources from conflict-affected areas. First and foremost, it needs to be binding. But it also needs to cover enough companies to be meaningful.
You can find more information on what you can do here.