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Europe must lead on ‘cleaning up’ global trade of conflict minerals

Further to President Trump’s proposal to row back on reforms designed to curb irresponsible US business practices, Europe’s role in cleaning up the trade of conflict minerals is now more important than ever,

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

MEDIA ADVISORY

Europe must lead on ‘cleaning up’ global trade of conflict minerals

15 March 2017

Europe’s role in cleaning up the global conflict mineral trade is more important than ever, Amnesty International said as the European Parliament prepares to vote tomorrow on new legislation requiring companies to source minerals responsibly.  

The legislation will make sure that minerals entering the EU have not fuelled violence and human rights abuses.

“Further to President Trump’s proposal to row back on reforms designed to curb irresponsible US business practices, Europe’s role in cleaning up the trade of conflict minerals is now more important than ever,” said Nele Meyer, Amnesty International’s Senior Executive Officer for Business and Human Rights.

Under the new EU legislation companies will, for the first time, be legally required to take responsibility for their mineral supply chains and take steps to prevent their trade being linked to conflict or human rights abuses.

Conflict minerals, such as tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold, are used in a huge range of products made and sold in Europe, including smartphones and laptops. The trade in such minerals has funded violence and brutal armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo and other countries.

Once approved, the new European legislation will apply to companies that import minerals in their raw form as ores and metals but does not affect imports of the same minerals inside components or finished products.

“While this legislation is a positive step, it is undermined by various loopholes that exempt many companies - such as those that import conflict minerals contained within smartphones, laptops and other products,” said Nele Meyer.

“The European Union must strengthen this legislation in future.”

Background

A debate on the EU legislation will take place in the European Parliament at today (15 March) 16.00 - http://bit.ly/2njXc4U, the vote will take place on the morning of 16 March.

The EU is the world’s largest economy and trading bloc and a major destination for minerals. Companies import minerals into Europe in both their raw form and as part of everyday products from laptops and mobile phones to engines and jewellery.

The proposed EU legislation requires companies importing minerals to ensure transparency of their supply chains and to identify, prevent and mitigate risks that the trade in their minerals might fuel conflict or human rights violations.

In the US, a similar law, Section 1502 of the Dodd Franc Act, requires US-listed companies to check if certain minerals in their products have funded armed groups contributing to conflict in the DRC and neighbouring countries.

In a draft Executive Order prepared last month, the Trump administration cited flimsy “national security” grounds when President Trump proposed to suspend Section 1502 of the Dodd Frank Act.