July 16, 2010
Catholic Relief Services Applauds New Law Addressing Congo Minerals and Global Transparency
Two key provisions in the financial reform legislation that received final approval by Congress this week will be of great benefit to the people served by Catholic Relief Services.
One provision will ensure that minerals mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo are not funding the violence that has killed, injured and displaced millions. The other, dealing with global transparency, will help the poor in resource-rich countries around the world benefit from their nation's natural wealth.
"We are grateful to the members of Congress and their staff who tirelessly worked to include these provisions in the Financial Services bill," said Bill O'Keefe, CRS Senior Director of Advocacy. "This is a huge victory for those ravaged by conflict around the world. It was possible only with the support of concerned people, including the Catholic community in the US, who let Washington know how important these issues are."
CRS works in the eastern region of Congo and sees firsthand the terrible impact that the on-going violence has had on people in that region, where between 3 million and 5 million have died as a result of the conflict. This new law targets the role of minerals used in products purchased in the US in both driving and funding this violence.
The new law will require publicly traded companies that use specified minerals to file annual reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission certifying whether those minerals originated in Congo or neighboring countries. Those minerals include the ores of gold, tantalum (coltan - used in cell phones, video games and other such devices), tungsten and tin. Corporations that use these four metals will be required to conduct regular audits to ensure that they are not contributing directly or indirectly to the armed conflict in the region.
Of even broader impact is the new law's global transparency provision, which will provide people in poor countries that have great mineral wealth with information that they need in order to hold their governments accountable for how those sometimes vast revenues are used. CRS works in 37 countries that are rich in oil, gas and minerals, but where people are desperately poor. This legislation can help support good governance and increase benefits for the poor in every one of them.