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Conflict Minerals

Infographic : Conflict Resources and their Supply Chains

Breaking the links between international supply chains and violent conflict 

For decades the trade in natural resources, including minerals, has played a central role in funding and fuelling some of the world’s most brutal conflicts. Revenues from the extraction and trade of these natural resources can give abusive armed groups the means to operate and can provide off-budget funding to State security forces and corrupt officials. In many instances, these groups are responsible for grave human rights violations. 

For nearly 20 years, Global Witness has run pioneering campaigns and in-depth investigations to break the links between natural resources and conflict. Our work on conflict minerals has focused on the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where fighting has continued for almost fifteen years, driven by the trade in valuable minerals. The warring parties have made millions of dollars per year by imposing illegal taxes at mine sites and controlling mineral transport and smuggling routes. Civilians have borne the brunt of the violence in a conflict characterised by rape, pillage and murder.

For more information about the current situation in eastern DRC, click here. 

Companies source minerals from conflict-affected and high-risk areas around the world. Minerals, precious stones and other natural resources have funded violence in Colombia, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Burma and the Central African Republic. These ‘conflict resources’ enter global supply chains where they are traded, processed and manufactured into a wide variety of consumer and industrial products such as laptops, cell phones and jewellery.

Global Witness has been campaigning for companies sourcing minerals to take steps – known as due diligence – to find out where the metals they use come from and whether their purchases are fuelling human rights violations. Compelling companies to carry out due diligence can help to break the links between international supply chains and violent conflict.

The UN Security Council, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and US Congress have already developed due diligence standards which set a clear international benchmark for companies sourcing tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold. The US Congress passed landmark legislation in July 2010 that placed mandatory due diligence requirements on US-listed companies sourcing Congolese minerals. The US has set an international benchmark, but some governments – including the European Union (EU) – are now lagging behind.  Global Witness is calling on the EU to introduce robust legislation that requires companies sourcing minerals and other natural resources from conflict-affected and high-risk areas to carry out supply chain due diligence that meets the OECD standard.

To see our reports and press releases on conflict minerals, click here.  

To learn more about our work on company due diligence, click here.

To learn more about our work on legislation, click here.

Additional Resources:

Click here to learn more about where metals from eastern DRC end up

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