Dear Dutch Presidency, we need effective law on conflict minerals

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV.COM Ltd.

Colton and Tantalum from the Democratic Republic of Congo. [ResponsibleSourcingNetwork/Flickr]

In an open letter to the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and the 28 member states, some 126 NGOs call for tighter regulation of conflict minerals, including Amnesty International and Global Witness.

Global Witness, Amnesty International and another 124 NGOs have signed the open letter below – please see the ‘Futher Reading’ box for a full list of signatories.

Minerals are key components in many everyday products, from mobile phones, laptops, and jewellery, to cars and light bulbs.

In too many cases, however, the extraction and trade of these resources is linked to conflicts and human rights abuses. Civil society organisations have been documenting the links between minerals and these abuses for years,but these abuses persist EU institutions are currently working on a regulation that aims to tackle the sometimes deadly trade in four of these minerals – tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold.

This initiative is long overdue. The EU is the largest trading block in the world and a significant destination for these minerals. The EU is also a major market for many of the products that contain these minerals; it is the second largest importer of mobile phones and laptops in the world.

With power comes responsibility…

With this come both a responsibility and the power to make a real difference by making sure its companies are sourcing minerals responsibly.

In the minerals sector, the leading international standard for responsible business is the Due Diligence Guidance developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

This standard has been endorsed by the EU and by doing so, it made a commitment to implementing it.

Unfortunately, EU member states have little to show from years of voluntary initiatives and encouragement.

As civil society organisations we have therefore called for a strong and effective regulation that would require all companies bringing these minerals into the EU – in whatever form – to perform some basic checks and due diligence on their supply chains, as is common in other sectors from food to financial services.

Our calls have been echoed by business leaders, investors, religious leaders, and leading civil society activists. Through over 362,000 actions, EU citizens have also made it clear that they expect to be able to purchase products that have been sourced responsibly, transparently and sustainably.

In May 2015 the European Parliament took a strong stance by voting for a binding law that would cover companies importing into the EU minerals in their raw form, as well as in products containing them. But more than a year later, negotiations are still ongoing. member states, in particular, have pushed back, promoting voluntary measures and self-regulation by business, while seeking to entirely exempt companies that import products containing these minerals from the scope of the law.

The Dutch government, acting as President of the Council of the EU, has worked hard to secure an agreement over the past few months. We recognise and welcome this initiative that has introduced some much needed momentum into negotiations, but there is still work to be done to find an agreement that will effectively tackle the conflict and human rights risks in the mineral supply chains.

Including companies that import products containing minerals in the regulation is vital to its effectiveness and impact.

Many of the minerals that risk being linked to human rights abuses and conflict enter the EU inside manufactured products, and it is as a major destination for such products that the EU exerts its most significant commercial leverage over the supply chain. Companies that import these products must be covered by the regulation if the EU is to establish an effective due diligence system which prompts OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible supply chains of minerals from conflict-affected and high-risk areas

Through petitions and e-mails addressed to EU decision-makers since May 2015:

EU citizens have also made it clear that they expect to be companies throughout the supply chain to identify and mitigate the risk of contributing to conflict and human rights violations through their business activities. The OECD Due Diligence system is specifically designed to include companies along the entire supply chain.

We are calling on the Council to listen not only to the European Parliament, but also to the many activists, investors, civil society, and citizens that have called for a strong and effective EU law. At a minimum, this means a regulation that covers companies that import into the EU minerals in their raw form as well as companies that import products containing these minerals.

We also urge the Dutch government to make full use of its remaining time as President of the Council of the EU and continue to facilitate a constructive dialogue between the co-legislators.

There is still time to deliver the regulation that the EU, and the communities that provide the resources upon which we are increasingly dependent, both deserve and need.

 

1 Amnesty International

2 Global Witness

3 Action Aid

4 ACCIÓN LIBERADORA, Fundación / member of REDES-ONGD

5 ACCION MARIANISTA PARA EL DESARROLLO, FUNDACION / member of REDES-ONGD

6 ACCIÓN VERAPAZ / MEMBER OF REDES-ONGD

7 ACRESCERE, FUNDACIÓN / member of REDES-ONGD

8 AES-CCC

9 Afro-Asiatisches Institut in Wien

10 Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l'Homme

11 Alboan

12 AMANI , Laicos Combonianos por el Sur / member of REDES-ONGD

13 AMARANTA, Fundación de Solidaridad / member of REDES-ONGD

14 AMI ONLUS (Associazione Maendeleo-Italia ONLUS)

15 Amigos de la Tierra - Spain

16 AMSALA / member of REDES-ONGD

17 Associazione Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII

18 Associazione Tumaini - un Ponte di Solidarietà

19 BAJAR A LA CALLE SIN FRONTERAS / member of REDES-ONGD

20 BAJAR A LA CALLE SIN FRONTERAS / member of REDES-ONGD

21 BENITO MENI, FUNDACIÓN / member of REDES-ONGD

22 Berne Declaration, Switzerland

23 Broederlijk Delen (Belgium)

24 Bruder und Schwester in Not – Diözese Innsbruck, Austria

25 BUEN PASTOR / member of REDES-ONGD

26 Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

27 CALASANCIO ONG / member of REDES-ONGD

28 CCFD-Terre Solidaire

29 CEEweb for Biodiversity

30 Celim Milano

31 Christian Aid

32 Christliche Initiative Romero

33 CMSR Centro Mondialità Sviluppo Reciproco

34 Comissió Justícia i Pau Barcelona

35 Comitato delle associazioni per la Pace e i Diritti Umani

36 Comitato trentino NOPPAW

37 Commission Justice et Paix Belgique francophone

38 COMPASIÓN, SOCOES / member of REDES-ONGD

39 Coopération Internationale pour le Développement et la Solidarité - CIDSE

40 Coordinamento Associazioni della Vallagarina per l'Africa

41 CORAZONISTAS, FUNDACIÓN / member of REDES-ONGD

42 COVIDE-AMVE / member of REDES-ONGD

43 CRUZ BLANCA, Fundación / member of REDES-ONGD

44 CSD - CONGREGACIÓN DE SANTO DOMINGO / member of REDES-ONGD

45 CVM Comunità Volontari per il Mondo

46 Danish Confederation of Trade Unions

47 Delwende, ONGD / member of REDES-ONGD

48 Diakonia

49 DIGNIDAD Y SOLIDARIDAD / member of REDES-ONGD

50 DKA Austria

51 ECOSOL SORD / member of REDES-ONGD

52 ENTRECULTURAS / member of REDES-ONGD

53 ESTEBAN G. VIGIL, FUNDACIÓN / member of REDES-ONGD

54 EurAc

55 European Coalition for Corporate Justice - ECCJ

56 FASFI - FUNDACIÓN AYUDA SOLIDARIA / member of REDES-ONGD

57 Federazione Organismi Cristiani di Servizio Internazionale Volontario -FOCSIV

58 Finance & Trade Watch, Austria

FISC - FUNDACIÓN INTERNACIONAL DE SOLIDARIDAD COMPAÑÍA DE MARÍA / member

of REDES-ONGD

59

60 FONDAZIONE INTERNAZIONALE BUON PASTORE ONLUS

61 Forest Peoples Programme, United Kingdom

62 Forschungs- und Dokumentationszentrum Chile-Lateinamerika e.V

63 FRATERNIDAD MISIONERA DEL SAGRADO CORAZÓN / member of REDES-ONGD

64 Friends of the Earth Europe

65 FUNDACIÓN AMIGÓ / member of REDES-ONGD

66 Fundación Mainel

67 FundEO, FUNDACION ENRIQUE DE OSSÓ / member of REDES-ONGD

68 FUNESO, FUNDACION EDUCATIVA SOLIDARIA / member of REDES-ONGD

69 German Watch

70 Gruppo Autonomo Volontari per la Cooperazione e lo Sviluppo del Terzo Mondo

71 HAREN ALDE / member of REDES-ONGD

72 Institute of Global Responsibility - Poland

73 ITAKA, FUNDACION / member of REDES-ONGD

74 Jesuit European Social Center - JESC

75 Jesuit Missions

76 JUAN CIUDAD ONGD para la salud / member of REDES-ONGD

77 KARIT Solidarios por la paz / member of REDES-ONGD

KOO- Koordinierungsstelle der Österr. Bischofskonferenz f. internationale Entwicklung

und Mission

79 KORIMA CLARETIANAS SUR / member of REDES-ONGD

80 La Bretxa

81 LADESOL, LAZOS DE SOLIDARIDADFUNDACION / member of REDES-ONGD

82 LARES, FUNDACION / member of REDES-ONGD

83 Latin American Mining Monitoring programme - LAMMP

84 London Mining Network

85 MADRESELVA, Fundación / member of REDES-ONGD

86 MARY WARD, FUNDACIÓN / member of REDES-ONGD

87 MERCEDARIAS MISIONERAS DE BERRIZ – MMB / member of REDES-ONGD

88 Milieudefensie, Friends of the Earth Netherlands

89 Misereor

90 MISIÓN SIN FRONTERAS, Amigos de Comboni / member of REDES-ONGD

91 OCASHA, Cristianos con el Sur / member of REDES-ONGD

92 Ökumenisches Netz Zentralafrika

93 p.h Balanced Films

94 Panzi Foundation (USA

95 PMU

96 Polish Institute for Human Rights and Business

97 Power Shift e.V

98 PROCLADE BETICA, Fundación / member of REDES-ONGD

99 PROCLADE CANARIAS, Fundación / member of REDES-ONGD

100 PROCLADE, FUNDACIÓN / member of REDES-ONGD

101 PROKARDE, / member of REDES-ONGD

102 PROLIBERTAS, FUNDACIÓN / member of REDES-ONGD

103 PROYDE, ASOCIACIÓN / member of REDES-ONGD

104 PROYDE-PROEGA / member of REDES-ONGD

105 PUEBLOS HERMANOS, PPHH / member of REDES-ONGD

106 Rete Pace per il Congo

107 RSJG, SAN JOSÉ DE GERONA / member of REDES-ONGD

108 SAL, SOLIDARIDAD CON AMÉRICA LATINA / member of REDES-ONGD

109 Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund

110 SED, SOLIDARIDAD, EDUCACIÓN, DESARROLLO / member of REDES-ONGD

111 SELVAS AMAZÓNICAS / member of REDES-ONGD

112 Sherpa

113 SIEMPRE ADELANTE, FUNDACIÓN / member of REDES-ONGD

114 SIGNOS SOLIDARIOS, FUNDACIÓN / MEMBER OF REDES-ONGD

115 Siloé, Asociación / member of REDES-ONGD

116 Solidarietà e Cooperazione

117 Solidarietà-Muungano Onlus

118 SOMASCA EMILIANI, EMILIANI ongd, FUNDACIÓN / member of REDES-ONGD

119 SOMO

120 SPINOLA SOLIDARIA / member of REDES-ONGD

121 Stop Mad Minning

122 SÜDWIND

123 TALLER DE SOLIDARIDAD, FUNDACIÓN / member of REDES-ONGD

124 TRABAJO Y DIGNIDAD, FUNDACION / member of REDES-ONGD

125 Urgewald Germany

126 Welthaus Dioezese Graz-Seckau

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