Conflict Minerals gun flip 3

Conflict Minerals

The mineral trade has funded violence and armed conflict for decades. Despite international legislation aimed at cleaning up the trade, conflict minerals can still enter global markets and end up in products, such as mobile phones, laptops and cars. Read more

The mineral trade has funded some of the world’s most brutal conflicts for decades. Today, resources from conflict or high-risk areas, such as parts of Afghanistan, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Zimbabwe, can fund armed groups and fuel human rights abuses. 

These resources can enter global supply chains, ending up in our mobile phones, laptops, jewelry and other products. It is very difficult for consumers to know if their favourite products fund violence overseas.

TEMPLO phone minerals

For more than 20 years, Global Witness has run pioneering campaigns and in-depth investigations to break the links between minerals and conflict. Our work on conflict minerals has shone a spotlight on the eastern DRC, where the trade in minerals has part funded fighting for more than a decade. Civilians have borne the brunt of the violence in a conflict characterised by rape, displacement and murder.

We know this is a global problem. Profits from the diamond and gold trade has helped fund the current conflict in the Central African Republic, which has left hundreds of thousands of people displaced from their homes.

Global Witness is calling on businesses to act responsibly. Mineral wealth can help support much-needed development in some of the world’s poorest and most fragile states. But this is only possible if companies act responsibly. Companies must check their supply chains to ensure that they are doing everything they can to prevent conflict minerals entering global markets. Then they must report on their findings. This process, known as due diligence, is essential if we want to clean up the trade in conflict minerals. 

We have already seen significant steps towards change. The US passed landmark legislation in 2010, known as the Dodd Frank Act Section 1502, requiring US-listed companies to carry out due diligence on minerals sourced from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and neighbouring countries. Several African countries, including DRC and Rwanda, have legislation in place requiring companies to undertake supply chain checks. China has recently developed its own conflict minerals guidelines. 

In April 2016 the EU reached a political understanding on a proposed regulation on conflict minerals and supply chain due diligence after several years of civil society campaigning and EU negotiations. Final technical discussions on the law are currently taking place.