Company Due Diligence
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Minerals that have fuelled conflict and abuse in places like eastern Congo are traded into the global supply chain and transformed into refined metals by large international smelting firms. The metals, including tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold, are then used in a wide range of products, including consumer electronic goods such as mobile phones and computers. Some of the world’s most famous brands are now coming under scrutiny to address their role in this devastating trade.
Companies using raw materials in their products that may have come from conflict areas should do due diligence – in other words, carry out checks on their supply chains – to establish whether they are inadvertently funding harm through their purchases. By publicly reporting on their due diligence, companies can show investors, consumers and interested stakeholders that they have taken steps to mitigate the risk of funding violence.
The OECD’s Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas, developed by a group of governments, companies and NGOs, is considered the international benchmark. The Guidance recommends that companies:
- Have a clear conflict minerals policy
- Carry out supply chain risk assessments based on on-the-ground checks
- Take action to deal with any problems identified
- Commission independent third party audits of their due diligence measures
- Report publicly on their findings
Despite the mounting pressure on companies that use minerals and metals to carry out due diligence, few are actually doing this. Some companies claim that it is too complicated or too difficult for them to do. Yet due diligence is a process that all reputable companies understand and employ on a regular basis to address risks ranging from corruption to environmental damage.
By putting these measures in place, companies can help to create a mining sector in eastern DRC and other conflict-affected regions that brings real benefit to the people who live there. A due diligence-based approach to sourcing minerals and metals is not about imposing blanket bans on trade; it is about ensuring that business does not perpetuate armed violence, serious human rights abuses and other crimes.
- 08.07.2010 | Do No Harm: A guide for companies sourcing from the DRC
- 31.07.2009 | Faced with a gun, what can you do?
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