Briefing Document / Aug. 10, 2011

The Dodd-Frank Act – recent developments and the case for urgent action.

Read briefing document which seeks to clarify some of the most common misconceptions about the Dodd Frank Act.

For the past decade and a half, the trade in metals that power our laptops and make our cell phones vibrate has helped to fuel the devastating war in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The Dodd Frank Act, passed by the US Congress in July 2010 with cross-party support, is a groundbreaking measure that aims to cut off a major source of cash for abusive armed groups in the region, including the Congolese army.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is expected to publish the final rules that set out exactly what companies will need to do to comply with the law. Business lobby groups are currently pulling out the stops to ensure that these regulations are delayed or diluted.  Some media coverage of the law, including a recent piece by David Aronson in the New York Times, fails to acknowledge the Act’s positive impacts and inadvertently echoes industry efforts to delay the law’s implementation.

Click here to read Global Witness's response to Aronson in the NYT.

Taking the gun out of the supply chains that feed our electronics market will not singlehandedly solve a conflict that has been driven variously by ethnic, political and economic grievances. But wars need money, and the international community has direct influence over the mineral trade in Congo. It must use this leverage before the human cost rises further. Implementation of the Dodd Frank Act is one of the most effective ways that it can do this.

Global Witness is also urging companies to apply the due diligence guidance on minerals supply chain controls adopted by the UN and OECD at the end of 2010.  Using these standards will help companies meet the due diligence requirements of the US law. It also provides them with a basis for trading conflict-free minerals from eastern DRC now.

International pressure generated by the Dodd Frank Act and UN and OECD initiatives has already persuaded the Congolese government to remove army units that were illegally occupying key mining areas. The most important example is the withdrawal of troops from the region’s largest tin mine, Bisie, which accounts for 70% of the tin ore produced in North Kivu Province. This paves the way for the establishment of a conflict free mineral trade that meets international due diligence standards and can foster peaceful economic development in the region.