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Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation

A Ministry of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate

United States Province

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Conflict Mineral Trade Act 2009 Introduced in the US House of Representatives

November 20th, 2009

P1010231

Oblates visit a war refugee camp in DRC

On November 19, the United States House of Representatives introduced the Conflict Minerals Trade Act of 2009. The bill was introduced by Congressman Jim McDermott (D-Washington), with co-sponsorship from Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) and Frank Wolf (R-Virginia). A coalition of faith based organizations and international nonprofit organizations concerned about conflict stemming from minerals extraction are encouraged by this Congressional action. The bill has also received support from various stakeholders in the electronics industry. To make this bill a reality, though, you need to urge your Congressional Representative to cosponsor the Conflict Minerals Trade Act of 2009 (HR 4128). Find your Representative on the House.gov website.

The Conflict Mineral Trade Act of 2009 (HR 4128) would demand greater transparency and accountability from the mining of conflict minerals that are at the heart of the war in Eastern Congo. Minerals such as Tin ore (cassiterite), tantalite (coltan), tungsten and gold are used in electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops and MP3 players. Profits from the export of these minerals continue to fuel conflicts in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Conflict Mineral Trade Act of 2009 would direct the U.S. State Department to support multilateral and U.S. government efforts to break the link between the trade in minerals and armed conflict in eastern Congo. In April 2009, a similar bipartisan bill Congo Conflict Minerals Act of 2009 (S.891) was introduced in the United State Senate. Some of the specific provisions of the Conflict Mineral Trade Act of 2009, HR 4128 include:

  • Development of a U.S. government strategy to address conflict minerals;
  • Support for further investigations by the U.N. Group of Experts;
  • Mapping of which armed groups control key mines in eastern Congo;
  • Inclusion of information on the negative impact of mineral exploitation and trade on human rights in Congo in the annual human rights reports.
  • Guidance for companies to exercise due diligence;
  • Expanded U.S. efforts to improve conditions and livelihoods for communities in eastern Congo who are dependent upon mining.
  • Review by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to evaluate adherence to and effectiveness of policies.

The Missionary Oblates JPIC office, in solidarity with our fellow Oblates working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, see this House legislation as a powerful tool for faith based organizations and advocates to support. While the bill itself may not solve all conflicts in the region, we believe it is a practical approach that will support peace and sustainable development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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