Written by 10 h 21 min Advocacy, Press release-en, Strengthening corporate accountability litigation

Open letter to members of the European Parliament regarding European regulation of conflict minerals

18 May 2015

The European Union (EU) encompasses some 500 million consumers and represents both the largest economy and the largest economic community in the world. Each year, minerals worth millions of euros enter EU territory from some of the poorest regions in the world. No one asks any questions whatsoever about the mining methods that produce these minerals. Nor does anyone ask whether or not this trade is sustaining conflicts in mineral-producing regions. There are no European regulations requiring companies to supply minerals responsibly. It is time for all that to change.

Trade in natural resources such as gold, diamonds, tantalum, tin, copper, and coal sustains a cycle of conflict and human rights violations in many underdeveloped areas of the world. These resources pass through global supply chains into commercial markets, ultimately ending up in components of products that we use every day, such as airplanes, phones, automobiles, or laptop computers. We thus find ourselves connected to hundreds of thousands of persons displaced by conflicts that have erupted in the Central African Republic and Colombia. We are also connected to thousands of people who have suffered years of violence and atrocities in certain regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo, or to the unknown victims of Zimbabwe’s mysterious intelligence organizations.

In March 2014, the European Commission introduced draft regulations to address the issue of trade in conflict-zone minerals. Adoption of these regulations would not have had any significant impact as they only cover four minerals – tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold – and are non-binding. Under the draft regulations, importers of these four minerals (between 300 and 400 companies) could choose whether or not to supply them responsibly. The regulations also left to importers the choice whether or not to make their efforts public via a mechanism called “supply chain due diligence.” The draft regulations only addressed a tiny percentage of companies involved in the conflict-mineral trade. They also excluded tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold that entered European territory in the form of components of products that we use daily.

The European Parliament’s International Trade Committee has since proposed new binding measures, but these would only affect a small number of companies in the mineral sector. The Committee’s proposed regulations would impose no requirements on the vast majority of mining companies, including some who import minerals directly from conflict or high-risk zones, to supply minerals responsibly. Moreover, the Committee’s proposed regulations would have no effect whatsoever on companies that import products containing these minerals.

We have a historic opportunity for progress. The current proposals are still insufficient. They are, in their current form, weaker than binding measures that other countries have adopted to address conflict minerals, notably the United States and 12 African nations.

As a Member of Parliament, you can make a difference. We urgently ask you to vote on May 20 for legislation that:

  • Requires all companies importing minerals into EU territory (whether as raw materials or product components) to apply due diligence to their supply chains and, pursuant to international standards, make information about supply chains available to the public;
  • Has sufficient flexibility to allow future coverage of other resources that may be linked to conflicts, human rights violations, and corruption. Index: IOR 60/1667/2015

The struggle against the highly profitable trade in conflict-zone minerals cannot by itself end the clashes, the corruption, or the human rights violations. It is nonetheless imperative to defend peace and long-term stability in certain regions that are among the most fragile but richest in natural resources in the world. Trade in conflict-zone minerals will remain a source of funding and motivation for the perpetrators of violence and human rights violations as long as companies can profit from illicit, completely unregulated operations. If our efforts to regulate this trade are insufficient, the poorest and most vulnerable citizens in the world will continue to suffer the consequences. Inaction and irresponsible trade are, for those poor and vulnerable people, tragic.

Yours sincerely,

1. Amnesty International
2. Global Witness
3. ABColombia
4. Ação Franciscana de Ecologia e Solidariede (AFES)
5. Access Info Europe
6. ACIDH, Action Contre l’Impunité pour les Droits Humains (Action Against Impunity for Human Rights)
7. Acidi Congo
8. ActionAid
10. AEFJN (Africa Europe Faith & Justice Network)
11. African Resources Watch (AFREWATCH)
12. AK Rohstoffe, Germany
13. ALBOAN Foundation
14. Alburnus Maior (The Save Rosia Montana Campaign)
15. Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC)
16. Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Thailand
17. Asociación Puente de Paz
18. Associació Solidaritat Castelldefels – Kasando
19. Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network
20. Ayar West Development Organization
21. Berne Declaration
22. BirdLife Europe
23. La Bretxa Àfrica
24. Broederlijk Delen
25. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
27. CCFD-Terre Solidaire
28. CEDIB (Centro de Documentación e Información Bolivia)
29. Centre for Civil Society, Durban, South Africa
30. Centro de Investigación y Estudios sobre Comercio y Desarrollo (CIECODE)
31. Chiama l’Africa
32. Chin Green Network
33. Chinland Natural Resources Watch Group
34. Christian Aid
36. CIR (Christliche Initiative Romero)
37. CNCD-11.11.11 (Belgium)
38. Coalition of the Flemish North-South Movement – 11.11.11
39. Comité des Observateurs des Droits de l’Homme (CODHO)
40. Commission Justice et Paix Belgique francophone
41. Community Management Education Center
42. Congo Calling
43. Cordaid
44. Cordillera Disaster Response and Development Services (CorDis RDS)
45. CORE
Index: IOR 60/1667/2015
46. Diakonia
47. DKA Austria – Hilfswerk der Katholischen Jungschar
48. Earthworks
49. Ecumenical Network Central Africa / Ökumenisches Netz Zentralafrika
50. Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (Rt Revd Michael Doe, Chair)
51. Enough Project
52. Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF)
53. Ethical Consumer Research Association
54. European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ)
55. European Network for Central Africa (EurAc)
56. FASTENOPFER/ Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund
57. FDCL (Center for Research and Documentation Chile-Latin America)
58. FIfF e.V.
59. FIDH
60. Focus on the Global South
61. FOCSIV (a federation of 70 Italian Catholic NGOs)
62. Forum Syd, Sweden
63. Foundation Max van der Stoel
64. Franciscan’s OFM JPIC Office, Rome
65. Friends of the Earth Europe
66. Friends of the Earth Spain
67. Fundación Jubileo – Bolivia
68. The Gaia Foundation (UK)
70. German NGO Forum on Environment and Development / Forum Umwelt und Entwicklung
71. Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
72. Global Policy Forum
73. Green Network Sustainable Environment Group
74. “Grupo Pro Africa” Network
75. Habi Center for Environmental Rights, Cairo
76. Hands of Unity Group
77. IBIS
78. Info Birmanie
79. Indigenous Peoples Link (PIPLinks)
80. Informationsstelle Peru (Germany)
81. INKOTA-netzwerk e.V.
82. Integrate: Business and Human Rights
83. International Indian Treaty Council
84. International-Lawyers.Org (INTLawyers)
85. Investors Against Genocide
86. Jamaa Resource Initiatives, Kenya
87. Jesuit European Social Centre (JESC)
88. Jesuit Missions
89. Jesuitenmission Deutschland
90. Jubilee Australia
91. Just Minerals Campaign
92. Justícia i Pau
93. Khan Kaneej Aur ADHIKAR (Mines minerals & RIGHTS)
94. kolko – Menschenrechte für Kolumbien e.V. (kolko – human rights for Colombia)
95. Koordinierungsstelle der Österreichischen Bischofskonferenz für internationale Entwicklung und Mission (KOO)
96. London Mining Network
97. Magway EITI Watch Group
98. Magway Youth Forum
99. Marinduque Council for Environmental Concerns (MaCEC)
100. Medicus Mundi Alava
101. Milieudefensie / Friends of the Earth Netherlands
102. Mineral Policy Institute
Index: IOR 60/1667/2015
103. mines, minerals & PEOPLE (MMP)
104. MiningWatch Canada
105. Mining Watch Romania Network
106. Misereor
107. Mundubat
108. Mwetaung Area Development Group
109. Myaing Youth Development Organization
110. The Natural Resource Women Platform
111. NITLAPAN-UCA, Nicaragua
112. Observatorio de Responsabilidad Social Corporativa
113. Oidhaco (a European network of 36 NGOs)
114. ONGAWA Ingeniería para el Desarrollo Humano
115. Organic Agro and Farmer Affair Development Group
116. Oxfam France
117. Partnership Africa Canada
118. PAX for Peace
119. Pax Christi, Deutsche Sektion
120. People for People
121. Polish Institute for Human Rights and Business
122. Pon and Ponnya Hill Resources Watch Group
123. PowerShift e.V. (Germany)
124. PREMICONGO (Protection des écorégions de miombo au Congo)
125. Publish What You Pay International
126. PWYP – Liberia
127. PWYP UK
128. REDES (a network of 54 NGOs)
129. Research Group « Human rights and globalization”
130. Réseau Belge Ressources Naturelles-Belgisch Netwerk Natuurlijke Rijkdommen
131. Rete Pace per il Congo
133. Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF)
134. Servicio Agropecuario para la Investigación y Promoción Económica (SAIPE)
135. Shwe Gas Movement (SGM)
136. Sherpa
137. SJ Around the Bay
138. Slovak Centre for Communication and Development
139. Social Care Volunteer Group
140. Social Program Aid for Civil Education (SPACE)
141. SOLdePaz.Pachakuti
142. Solidarietà e Cooperazione CIPSI
143. SOMO
144. Stop Mad Mining
145. Südwind, Austria
146. SÜDWIND e.V., Germany
147. Swedwatch
148. Swiss Working Group on Colombia / Grupo de Trabajo Suiza Colombia
149. Synergies des Femmes pour les victimes des Violences Sexuelles (SFVS)
150. Torang Trust
151. Wacam
152. Walk Free
153. Wan Lark Rural Development Foundation Rakhaine (Arakan)
154. Welthaus Diözese Graz-Seckau
155. Welthaus of the Diocese of Linz
156. Zomi Student Association (Universities Myanmar)
157. 88 Rakhine Generation Social Development Organization


Last modified: 17 December 2019