Briefing Document / Feb. 28, 2011

Submission to the US Securities and Exchange Commission on proposed guidelines for conflict minerals law

The landmark US Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 includes provisions to stem the flow of conflict minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  It requires companies whose products contain tin, tantalum tungsten and gold from the Great Lakes Region to disclose to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) the measures they have taken to avoid purchasing minerals which have benefited armed groups in DRC.

The passage of the law is a major milestone, but the next stage is crucial to its effectiveness in practice. Some of the provisions it sets out are a framework for more specific regulation which is currently being developed. In particular, the SEC needs to produce regulations setting out what kind of supply chain due diligence companies will need to undertake and how this should be audited. Global Witness is advocating that the SEC adopt the five point framework for due diligence endorsed by the UN Group of Experts and the OECD, and insist on rigorous third party audits that include spot checks on the supply chain of the company concerned. Our previous submission to the SEC laid out these recommendations in full.

The SEC has now published the first draft of these regulations. This latest submission responds to the proposals, and highlights areas where the regulations should be clarified and strengthened.