More than 150 civil rights groups call on MEPs to strengthen the EU Conflict Minerals

Days before a landmark vote on European conflict minerals regulation, rights groups call on politicians to vote for binding legislation requiring European companies to ensure their mineral purchases do not fund conflict or human rights abuses overseas.

Open Letter to Members of the European Parliament

The European Union is the world’s largest economy, the world’s largest trading block, and home to 500 million consumers. Every year, millions of euro worth of minerals flow into the EU from some of the poorest places on earth. No questions are asked about how they are extracted, or whether their trade fuels conflict in local communities. The EU has no legislation in place to ensure companies source their minerals responsibly. Now is the time for change.

The trade in resources – such as gold, diamonds, tantalum, tin, copper and coal – continues to perpetuate a cycle of conflict and human rights abuses in many fragile areas of the world. These resources enter global supply chains and end up in products that we use every day, such as aeroplanes, cars, mobile phones and laptops. These goods connect us to the hundreds of thousands who have been displaced by conflict in the Central African Republic and Colombia. They connect us also to the thousands who have endured years of violence and abuse in parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and to the unknown victims of shadowy intelligence organisations in Zimbabwe.

In March 2014, the European Commission put forward a draft regulation to address the trade in conflict minerals that, if passed, would fail to have a meaningful impact. It covers just four minerals: tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold. It is entirely voluntary, giving 300-400 importers of those minerals the option of sourcing responsibly and reporting publicly on their efforts to do so, through a process known as “supply chain due diligence”. The law would only cover a tiny proportion of EU companies involved in the trade, and leaves out the tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold that enter the EU in products that we use every day.

The European Parliament’s International Trade Committee has since proposed some mandatory requirements – but these also apply to just a small fraction of the industry. The vast majority of companies involved – including some of those importing directly from conflict-affected and high-risk areas – would have no obligation to source responsibly. Companies importing products containing these minerals would be left entirely off the hook.

This is a landmark opportunity for progress. But the weak proposals on the table would leave Europe lagging behind global efforts, including mandatory requirements endorsed by the US and by twelve African countries.

You, as a Member of the Parliament, can make a difference. We are calling on you to vote on 20 May for a law that:

  • Requires all companies bringing minerals into the EU – whether in their raw form or contained in products – to carry out supply chain due diligence and publicly report in line with international standards.

  • Is flexible enough to cover, in the future, other resources that may be linked to conflict, human rights abuses and corruption.

Tackling the highly lucrative trade in conflict minerals will not, on its own, put an end to conflict, corruption or abuse. However, it is critical to securing long-term peace and stability in some of the most fragile and resource-rich areas of the world. As long as an illicit industry can flourish unchecked, the trade in conflict minerals will supply funds and motivation to violent and abusive actors. Those bearing the cost of our weak efforts to regulate this trade will be some of the poorest and most vulnerable citizens of the world. For them, inaction and irresponsible business comes at a serious cost.

Yours sincerely

  1. Amnesty International

  2. Global Witness

  3. ABColombia

  4. Ação Franciscana de Ecologia e Solidariede (AFES)

  5. Access Info Europe

  6. ACIDH, Action Contre l'Impunité pour les Droits Humains (Action Against Impunity for Human Rights)

  7. Acidi Congo

  8. ActionAid

  9. AEDH

  10. AEFJN (Africa Europe Faith & Justice Network)

  11. African Resources Watch (AFREWATCH)

  12. AK Rohstoffe, Germany

  13. ALBOAN Foundation

  14. Alburnus Maior (The Save Rosia Montana Campaign)

  15. Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC)

  16. Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Thailand

  17. Asociación Puente de Paz

  18. Associació Solidaritat Castelldefels – Kasando

  19. Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network

  20. Ayar West Development Organization

  21. Berne Declaration

  22. BirdLife Europe

  23. La Bretxa Àfrica

  24. Broederlijk Delen

  25. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

  26. CATAPA

  27. CCFD-Terre Solidaire

  28. CEDIB (Centro de Documentación e Información Bolivia)

  29. Centre for Civil Society, Durban, South Africa

  30. Centro de Investigación y Estudios sobre Comercio y Desarrollo (CIECODE)

  31. Chiama l'Africa

  32. Chin Green Network

  33. Chinland Natural Resources Watch Group

  34. Christian Aid

  35. CIDSE

  36. CIR (Christliche Initiative Romero)

  37. CNCD-11.11.11 (Belgium)

  38. Coalition of the Flemish North-South Movement - 11.11.11

  39. Comité des Observateurs des Droits de l'Homme (CODHO)

  40. Commission Justice et Paix Belgique francophone

  41. Community Management Education Center

  42. Congo Calling

  43. Cordaid

  44. Cordillera Disaster Response and Development Services (CorDis RDS)

  45. CORE

  46. Diakonia

  47. DKA Austria – Hilfswerk der Katholischen Jungschar

  48. Earthworks

  49. Ecumenical Network Central Africa / Ökumenisches Netz Zentralafrika

  50. Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (Rt Revd Michael Doe, Chair)

  51. Enough Project

  52. Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF)

  53. Ethical Consumer Research Association

  54. European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ)

  55. European Network for Central Africa (EurAc)

  56. FASTENOPFER/ Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund

  57. FDCL (Center for Research and Documentation Chile-Latin America)

  58. FIfF e.V.

  59. FIDH

  60. Focus on the Global South

  61. FOCSIV (a federation of 70 Italian Catholic NGOs)

  62. Forum Syd, Sweden

  63. Foundation Max van der Stoel

  64. Franciscan’s OFM JPIC Office, Rome

  65. Friends of the Earth Europe

  66. Friends of the Earth Spain

  67. Fundación Jubileo - Bolivia

  68. The Gaia Foundation (UK)

  69. GATT-RN

  70. German NGO Forum on Environment and Development / Forum Umwelt und Entwicklung

  71. Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

  72. Global Policy Forum

  73. Green Network Sustainable Environment Group

  74. “Grupo Pro Africa” Network

  75. Habi Center for Environmental Rights, Cairo

  76. Hands of Unity Group

  77. IBIS

  78. Info Birmanie

  79. Indigenous Peoples Link (PIPLinks)

  80. Informationsstelle Peru (Germany)

  81. INKOTA-netzwerk e.V.

  82. Integrate: Business and Human Rights

  83. International Indian Treaty Council

  84. International-Lawyers.Org (INTLawyers)

  85. Investors Against Genocide

  86. Jamaa Resource Initiatives, Kenya

  87. Jesuit European Social Centre (JESC)

  88. Jesuit Missions

  89. Jesuitenmission Deutschland

  90. Jubilee Australia

  91. Just Minerals Campaign

  92. Justícia i Pau

  93. Khan Kaneej Aur ADHIKAR (Mines minerals & RIGHTS)

  94. kolko - Menschenrechte für Kolumbien e.V. (kolko - human rights for Colombia)

  95. Koordinierungsstelle der Österreichischen Bischofskonferenz für internationale Entwicklung und Mission (KOO)

  96. London Mining Network

  97. Magway EITI Watch Group

  98. Magway Youth Forum

  99. Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MaCEC)

  100. Medicus Mundi Alava

  101. Milieudefensie / Friends of the Earth Netherlands

  102. Mineral Policy Institute

  103. mines, minerals & PEOPLE (MMP)

  104. MiningWatch Canada

  105. Mining Watch Romania Network

  106. Misereor

  107. Mundubat

  108. Mwetaung Area Development Group

  109. Myaing Youth Development Organization

  110. The Natural Resource Women Platform

  111. NITLAPAN-UCA, Nicaragua

  112. Observatorio de Responsabilidad Social Corporativa

  113. Oidhaco (a European network of 36 NGOs)

  114. ONGAWA Ingeniería para el Desarrollo Humano

  115. Organic Agro and Farmer Affair Development Group

  116. Oxfam France

  117. Partnership Africa Canada

  118. PAX for Peace

  119. Pax Christi, Deutsche Sektion

  120. People for People

  121. Polish Institute for Human Rights and Business

  122. Pon and Ponnya Hill Resources Watch Group

  123. PowerShift e.V. (Germany)

  124. PREMICONGO (Protection des écorégions de miombo au Congo)

  125. Publish What You Pay International

  126. PWYP – Liberia

  127. PWYP UK

  128. REDES (a network of 54 NGOs)

  129. Research Group "Human rights and globalization”

  130. Réseau Belge Ressources Naturelles-Belgisch Netwerk Natuurlijke Rijkdommen

  131. Rete Pace per il Congo

  132. RODHECIC

  133. Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF)

  134. Servicio Agropecuario para la Investigación y Promoción Económica (SAIPE)

  135. Shwe Gas Movement (SGM)

  136. Sherpa

  137. SJ Around the Bay

  138. Slovak Centre for Communication and Development

  139. Social Care Volunteer Group

  140. Social Program Aid for Civil Education (SPACE)

  141. SOLdePaz.Pachakuti

  142. Solidarietà e Cooperazione CIPSI

  143. SOMO

  144. Stop Mad Mining

  145. Südwind, Austria

  146. SÜDWIND e.V., Germany

  147. Swedwatch

  148. Swiss Working Group on Colombia / Grupo de Trabajo Suiza Colombia

  149. Synergies des Femmes pour les victimes des Violences Sexuelles (SFVS)

  150. Torang Trust

  151. Wacam

  152. Walk Free

  153. Wan Lark Rural Development Foundation Rakhaine (Arakan)

  154. Welthaus Diözese Graz-Seckau

  155. Welthaus of the Diocese of Linz

  156. Zomi Student Association (Universities Myanmar)

  157. 88 Rakhine Generation Social Development Organization