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'Naming and shaming' may not be enough to halt conflict mining in Congo

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Yale University, where I am involved in a similar initiative, is considering writing to major electronics companies it invests in (it has a $17 billion endowment that it invests) to ask them to adopt OECD guidelines in their due diligence efforts. If companies do not adopt thee guidelines, or if they are found to be in violation of the SEC rules or using conflict minerals, we would ask Yale to divest.

Will these initiatives have an impact? Hopefully, but it all depends on how this US-based pressure impacts the situation on the ground. Ideally, this pressure will create incentives for suppliers in the field to pressure the Congolese government to demilitarize key mining sites - after all, most large mining areas are now controlled by the Congolese army – and set up sound tracing schemes. At the same time, pressure would grow for the Congolese army to chase non-state armed groups out of other mining concessions and sanitize them, as well, for international trade. This would lead to less corruption of the Congolese military and greater incentives for demobilization for other armed groups. Some pilots for tracing schemes are under way, although the mineral export ban by the Congolese government between September 2010 - March 2011 brought a halt to those initiatives.

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