African nations work together to rid supply chains of conflict materials – by Alison Moodie (The Guardian – September 14, 2015)

A group of African nations have developed a framework that will make it easier for companies to keep conflict minerals out of their supply chains.

The new certification framework, known as the Regional Certification Mechanism, was developed by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), an intergovernmental organization of 12 African countries, and released in August. It includes multiple steps and a system of checks and balances that experts say will make it easier for companies to clean up their supply chains.

“For the first time in Congo’s history, there is a thorough, multi-stakeholder process to assess whether rebel groups or the army are profiting from mines,” said Sasha Lezhnev, associate director of policy at the Enough Project.

The advocacy group works to end war crimes in Africa. “Considering the past decades of conflict mining and the more recent history of pillaging minerals to support war, this is a very important step,” she said.

According to the Enough Project’s latest report, out of 180 mines assessed in the war-stricken Democratic Republic of Congo, 140 have now been validated as conflict-free.

Putting pressure on industry

In recent years, companies have faced mounting pressure to rid their supply chains of conflict minerals, specifically tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold. A provision of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law requires that publicly traded US companies must disclose whether they use minerals that originated from central Africa, and what steps they have taken to determine the source of those minerals. In May, more than a thousand companies – including Apple and Ford Motor – filed their annual disclosures for a second year.

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