Press release / June 13, 2016

Open letter to the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the Member States of the European Union

Minerals are key components in many everyday products, from mobile phones, laptops, and jewellery, to cars and light bulbs. In too many cases, however, the extraction and trade of these resources is linked to conflicts and human rights abuses. Civil society organisations have been documenting the links between minerals and these abuses for years, from their role in funding violent armed groups to the use of child labour in mines. But these abuses persist, and companies are still buying and using such minerals without assessing and addressing these risks. It is time to change the status quo. It is time for EU governments to take effective legislative action to ensure companies source minerals responsibly, transparently and sustainably.

EU institutions are currently working on a regulation that aims to tackle the sometimes deadly trade in four of these minerals - tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold.

This initiative is long overdue. The EU is the largest trading block in the world and a significant destination for these minerals. The EU is also a major market for many of the products that contain these minerals; it is the second largest importer of mobile phones and laptops in the world. With this come both a responsibility and the power to make a real difference by making sure its companies are sourcing minerals responsibly.

The EU also needs to show it is serious about meeting its stated commitments on promoting responsible business. Under its new trade strategy, the Commission argues that the “responsible management of global supply chains is essential to align trade policy with European values.”[1]

In the minerals sector, the leading international standard for responsible business is the Due Diligence Guidance developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).[2] This standard has been endorsed by the EU and by doing so it made a commitment to implementing it. Unfortunately, EU Member States have instead been dragging their feet and, as a result, have little to show from years of voluntary initiatives and encouragement.

As civil society organisations we have therefore called for a strong and effective regulation that would require all companies bringing these minerals into the EU - in whatever form - to perform some basic checks and due diligence on their supply chains, as is common in other sectors from food to financial services. Our calls have been echoed by business leaders, investors, religious leaders, and leading civil society activists. Through over 362,000 actions,[3] EU citizens have also made it clear that they expect to be able to purchase products that have been sourced responsibly, transparently and sustainably.

In May 2015 the European Parliament took a strong stance by voting for a binding law that would cover companies importing into the EU minerals in their raw form, as well as in products containing them. But more than a year later, negotiations are still ongoing. Member States, in particular, have pushed back, promoting voluntary measures and self-regulation by business, while seeking to entirely exempt companies that import products containing these minerals from the scope of the law.

The Dutch government, acting as President of the Council of the EU, has worked hard to secure an agreement over the past few months. We recognise and welcome this initiative that has introduced some much needed momentum into negotiations, but there is still work to be done to find an agreement that will effectively tackle the conflict and human rights risks in the mineral supply chains.

Including companies that import products containing minerals in the regulation will be vital to its effectiveness and impact.

Many of the minerals that risk being linked to human rights abuses and conflict enter the EU inside manufactured products, and it is as a major destination for such products that the EU exerts its most significant commercial leverage over the supply chain. Companies that import these products must be covered by the regulation if the EU is to establish an effective due diligence system which prompts companies throughout the supply chain to identify and mitigate the risk of contributing to conflict and human rights violations through their business activities. The OECD Due Diligence system is specifically designed to include companies along the entire supply chain. This ensures responsibilities are distributed fairly and manageably while building the critical mass and momentum needed to develop joint industry programmes and collaboration that make due diligence easier and more efficient for everyone.

We are calling on the Council to listen not only to the European Parliament, but also to the many activists, investors, civil society, and citizens that have called for a strong and effective EU law. At a minimum, this means a regulation that covers companies that import into the EU minerals in their raw form as well as companies that import products containing these minerals.

We also urge the Dutch government to make full use of its remaining time as President of the Council of the EU and continue to facilitate a constructive dialogue between the co-legislators. There is still time to deliver the regulation that the EU, and the communities that provide the resources upon which we are increasingly dependent, both deserve and need.  

Yours sincerely,


1 Amnesty International

2 Global Witness

3 ACCIÓN LIBERADORA, Fundación / member of REDES-ONGD

4 ACCION MARIANISTA PARA EL DESARROLLO,  FUNDACION / member of REDES-ONGD

5 Acción verapaz / member of REDES-ONGD

6 ACRESCERE, FUNDACIÓN / member of REDES-ONGD

7 Action Aid

8 AES-CCC

9 Afro-Asiatisches Institut in Wien

10 Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l'Homme

11 Alboan

12 AMANI , Laicos Combonianos por el Sur / member of REDES-ONGD

13 AMARANTA, Fundación de Solidaridad / member of REDES-ONGD

14 AMI ONLUS  (Associazione Maendeleo-Italia ONLUS)

15 Amigos de la Tierra - Spain 

16 AMSALA / member of REDES-ONGD

17 Associazione Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII 

18 Associazione Tumaini - un Ponte di Solidarietà

19 BAJAR A LA CALLE SIN FRONTERAS / member of REDES-ONGD

20 BAJAR A LA CALLE SIN FRONTERAS / member of REDES-ONGD

21 BENITO MENI, FUNDACIÓN / member of REDES-ONGD

22 Berne Declaration, Switzerland

23 Broederlijk Delen (Belgium) 

24 Bruder und Schwester in Not – Diözese Innsbruck, Austria

25 BUEN PASTOR / member of REDES-ONGD

26 Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

27 CALASANCIO ONG / member of REDES-ONGD

28 CCFD-Terre Solidaire  

29 CEEweb for Biodiversity 

30 Celim Milano

31 Christian Aid 

32 Christliche Initiative Romero

33 CIDSE

34 CMSR Centro Mondialità Sviluppo Reciproco

35 Comissió Justícia i Pau Barcelona

36 Comitato delle associazioni per la Pace e i Diritti Umani 

37 Comitato trentino NOPPAW 

38 Commission Justice et Paix Belgique francophone

39 COMPASIÓN, SOCOES / member of REDES-ONGD

40 Coordinamento Associazioni della Vallagarina per l'Africa

41 CORAZONISTAS, FUNDACIÓN / member of REDES-ONGD

42 Cordaid

43 COVIDE-AMVE / member of REDES-ONGD

44 CRUZ BLANCA, Fundación / member of REDES-ONGD

45 CSD - CONGREGACIÓN  DE SANTO DOMINGO / member of REDES-ONGD

46 CVM Comunità Volontari per il Mondo

47 Danish Confederation of Trade Unions 

48 Delwende, ONGD / member of REDES-ONGD

49 Diakonia

50 DIGNIDAD Y SOLIDARIDAD / member of REDES-ONGD

51 DKA Austria

52 ECOSOL SORD / member of REDES-ONGD

53 ENTRECULTURAS / member of REDES-ONGD

54 ESTEBAN G. VIGIL, FUNDACIÓN / member of REDES-ONGD

55 EurAc

56 European Coalition for Corporate Justice - ECCJ

57 FASFI - FUNDACIÓN AYUDA SOLIDARIA / member of REDES-ONGD

58 Federazione Organismi Cristiani di Servizio Internazionale Volontario -FOCSIV

59 FIDH

60 Finance & Trade Watch, Austria

61 FISC - FUNDACIÓN INTERNACIONAL DE SOLIDARIDAD COMPAÑÍA DE MARÍA / member of REDES-ONGD

62 FONDAZIONE INTERNAZIONALE BUON PASTORE ONLUS

63 Forest Peoples Programme, United Kingdom

64 Forschungs- und Dokumentationszentrum Chile-Lateinamerika e.V

65 FRATERNIDAD MISIONERA DEL SAGRADO CORAZÓN / member of REDES-ONGD

66 Friends of the Earth Europe 

67 FUNDACIÓN AMIGÓ / member of REDES-ONGD

68 Fundación Mainel 

69 FundEO, FUNDACION ENRIQUE  DE OSSÓ / member of REDES-ONGD

70 FUNESO, FUNDACION EDUCATIVA SOLIDARIA / member of REDES-ONGD

71 German Watch

72 Gruppo Autonomo Volontari per la Cooperazione e lo Sviluppo del Terzo Mondo

73 HAREN ALDE / member of REDES-ONGD

74 Institute of Global Responsibility - Poland

75 ITAKA, FUNDACION / member of REDES-ONGD

76 Jesuit European Social Center - JESC

77 Jesuit Missions

78 Jesuit Refugee Service International Office

79 JUAN CIUDAD ONGD  para la salud / member of REDES-ONGD

80 KARIT  Solidarios por la paz / member of REDES-ONGD

81 KOO- Koordinierungsstelle der Österr. Bischofskonferenz f. internationale Entwicklung und Mission 

82 KORIMA CLARETIANAS SUR / member of REDES-ONGD

83 La Bretxa

84 LADESOL, LAZOS DE SOLIDARIDADFUNDACION / member of REDES-ONGD

85 LARES,  FUNDACION / member of REDES-ONGD

86 Latin American Mining Monitoring programme - LAMMP

87 London Mining Network 

88 MADRESELVA, Fundación / member of REDES-ONGD

89 MARY WARD, FUNDACIÓN / member of REDES-ONGD

90 MERCEDARIAS MISIONERAS DE BERRIZ – MMB / member of REDES-ONGD

91 Milieudefensie, Friends of the Earth Netherlands

92 Misereor

93 MISIÓN SIN FRONTERAS, Amigos de Comboni / member of REDES-ONGD

94 OCASHA,  Cristianos con el Sur / member of REDES-ONGD

95 Ökumenisches Netz Zentralafrika 

96 p.h Balanced Films

97 Panzi Foundation (USA

98 PMU

99 Polish Institute for Human Rights and Business 

100 Power Shift e.V

101 PROCLADE BETICA, Fundación / member of REDES-ONGD

102 PROCLADE CANARIAS, Fundación / member of REDES-ONGD

103 PROCLADE, FUNDACIÓN / member of REDES-ONGD

104 PROKARDE, / member of REDES-ONGD

105 PROLIBERTAS, FUNDACIÓN / member of REDES-ONGD

106 PROYDE, ASOCIACIÓN / member of REDES-ONGD

107 PROYDE-PROEGA / member of REDES-ONGD

108 PUEBLOS HERMANOS, PPHH / member of REDES-ONGD

109 Rete Pace per il Congo

110 RSJG, SAN JOSÉ DE GERONA / member of REDES-ONGD

111 SAL, SOLIDARIDAD CON AMÉRICA LATINA / member of REDES-ONGD

112 Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund

113 SED, SOLIDARIDAD, EDUCACIÓN, DESARROLLO / member of REDES-ONGD

114 SELVAS AMAZÓNICAS / member of REDES-ONGD

115 Sherpa

116 SIEMPRE ADELANTE, FUNDACIÓN / member of REDES-ONGD

117 Signos solidarios, Fundación / member of REDES-ONGD

118 Siloé, Asociación / member of REDES-ONGD

119 Solidarietà e Cooperazione 

120 Solidarietà-Muungano Onlus

121 Solidaritat Castelldefels Kasando 

122 SOMASCA EMILIANI, EMILIANI ongd,  FUNDACIÓN / member of REDES-ONGD

123 SOMO

124 SPINOLA SOLIDARIA / member of REDES-ONGD

125 Stop Mad Mining

126 SÜDWIND

127 TALLER DE SOLIDARIDAD, FUNDACIÓN / member of REDES-ONGD

128 TRABAJO Y DIGNIDAD,  FUNDACION / member of REDES-ONGD

129 Urgewald Germany

130 Welthaus Dioezese Graz-Seckau



[1] European Commission Strategy: “Trade for All: Towards a more responsible trade and investment policy”, October 2015

[2] OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible supply chains of minerals from conflict-affected and high-risk areas

[3] Through petitions and e-mails addressed to EU decision-makers since May 2015:

http://stop-mad-mining.org/2016/04/06/conflict-minerals-eu-trade-commissioner-malmstrom-takes-over-41-675-voices-for-a-binding-regulation/,http://www.justicepaix.be/conflict-minerals/,http://www.progressio.org.uk/conflictminerals, https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/26125-stop-blood-minerals?locale=en,https://www.walkfree.org/tackle-conflict-minerals-trade/,http://www.tecnologialibredeconflicto.org/en/firma/

/ ENDS

Contacts

Anne Foata, Consultant, Conflict Resources

[email protected]

+32 470594404

Michael Gibb

[email protected]

+44 7808 776340

General/out of hours media enquiries

[email protected]

+44 (0) 7912517127

Recent press releases