4 October 2010, Paris/Nairobi - Efforts to end trade in conflict minerals advanced last week when 11 African countries endorsed an OECD system for the responsible sourcing of minerals.
Ministerial Meeting of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) agreed 30 September 2010 to forward the OECD’s guidance to heads of state slated to participate in the next ICGLR regional summit in Lusaka, Zambia, on 15 December 2010.
The OECD's Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chain Management of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas also won strong support from private sector and civil society participants in the recent meeting.
Public and private sector officials agreed that the OECD due diligence system should be part of wider plans to improve transparency and accountability across the central African minerals sector.
Illegal exploitation of natural resources in fragile African states has been fueling conflict across the region for a decade. Exploited minerals include diamonds, gold and tin, as well as those commonly found in electronic equipment such as casserite (used in laptops), coltan (mobile phones) and wolframite (light bulbs). While data is scarce, it is estimated that up to 80% of minerals in some of the worst-affected zones may be smuggled out. The illegal trade stokes conflict, boosts crime and corruption, finances international terrorism and blocks economic and social development.
The OECD’s guidance clarifies how companies can identify and better manage risks throughout the entire mineral supply chain, from local exporters and mineral processors to the manufacturing and brand-name companies that use these minerals in their products.
“The OECD guidance offers a concrete response for ongoing corporate engagement in the region,” said Dumisani Kumalo, South Africa’s Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region.
Industry associations, including the Global e-Sustainability Initiative and the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition, supported the OECD guidance. This was described during the Nairobi meeting as “a practical tool for responsible sourcing". Various private sector representatives, such as Ford Motor Company, also called on the United States Securities and Exchange Commission to rely on the OECD guidance when drafting new annual reporting requirements for listed companies.
The SEC is working on the new due diligence regulations in response to transparency requirements tacked onto a financial overhaul law passed earlier this year by the US Congress. The law will force listed companies in US markets to disclose in their annual reports all measures taken to prevent financing of armed groups, including those trafficking in conflict minerals.
“We very much hope that the Securities and Exchange Commission will look to this guidance for determining reliable due diligence measures,” said Ford Motor Company’s Global Manager for Supply Chain Sustainability, Monique Oxender.
For further information, contact OECD Legal Adviser Lahra Liberti (Tel: +33 1 45 24 79 47; Mobile: +33 6 13 89 43 35; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org).