“A Progress Report on Conflict Minerals” Written Testimony to the US State Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs

 

U.S. State Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs

Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy Hearing

On March 7, a group of 129 investors and investor groups managing total assets close to $5 trillion, called upon the SEC and Congress to continue widespread and comprehensive implementation of Section 1502. Lead investors included Boston Common Asset Management, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), Mercy Investment Services, Inc., Responsible Sourcing Network (RSN), Trillium Asset Management, and US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment. Engaged with the implementation of the law since it was first passed in 2010, investors expressed their support in a statement (attached) to the SEC specifically calling on the agency to pursue robust enforcement of the requirements to achieve maximum impact.

Spurred by American leadership on conflict minerals which goes back to disclosure amendment 3997 championed by Senator Brownback (R-KS), and a bipartisan coalition of nine senators, supply chain due diligence is becoming a global norm for responsible sourcing.  This is demonstrated by increasing scrutiny and regulation on conflict minerals from the DRC including the EU’s Conflict Minerals Law.  Lead U.S. investors were therefore joined by asset managers from around the world including APG Investment Management, Hermes EOS, Legal & General Investment Management, MN, NEI Investments, Robeco, Triodos Investment Management, and pension funds such as New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, PGGM, and Sweden’s AP1, AP2, AP3 and AP4.

The 1502 rule has been the driving force for the momentum and action by corporations to research their supply chains, be transparent about their actions, and be responsible to the communities that deserve to prosper from the electronics craze sweeping across the world. As a result, U.S. companies are being more effective in addressing material risk in their supply chains while contributing to responsible economic development in the DRC.

No single law can solve all the underlying problems that are causing conflict in the DRC region, but since 2010, this law has demonstrated success in diminishing revenue flows to militia groups. Section 1502 also exemplifies the need for and benefit of transparency within investment decisions. Not only does it support companies and investors by creating a level playing field to compare companies’ actions, such as in RSN’s Mining the Disclosures reports, but it also helps minimize violence and despair.

We need the coordination and cooperation of all to further progress and change on the ground in the DRC.  We urge Congress and the U.S. State Department to support comprehensive implementation of 1502 while simultaneously supporting the Congolese government in making needed changes to promote security on the ground.

Now is not the time to repeal and replace but to enforce and replicate 1502 to drive responsible manufacturing and empower local communities in conjunction with necessary government diplomacy and economic development activities. We all have a role to play in bringing peace and prosperity to the Congo.

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