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Conflict minerals reporting guidance published


SupplyManagement

October 1, 2013 | Helen Gilbert

The guidance, compiled by the Responsible Sourcing Network and Enough Project, has been produced ahead of the 31 May 2014 deadline that requires companies who source minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo to submit their first conflict minerals disclosures to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Policies should articulate a commitment to ensuring sourcing practices do not support conflict, human rights abuses including forced labour, mass atrocities and crimes against humanity, the Expectations for Companies’ Conflict Minerals Reporting guidance stated.

It detailed how firms should commit to exercising supply chain due diligence and consider the implementation of a supply chain transparency system that allows for the identification of the smelters and/or refiners in its minerals supply chain.

The metals tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold – also known as 3TG – should only be sourced from conflict-free covered countries, while companies should only use 3TG minerals from smelters that have been audited and verified as conflict free by a credible programme such as the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative, the document states.

Other recommendations include developing a conflict minerals programme that incorporates a description of the steps that will be taken to identify, assess, mitigate and respond to risks.

At a minimum steps should include supply chain surveys, supplier training, supplier and smelter encouragement, and an obligation to participate in the Conflict Free Smelter programme or equivalent, provided such industry schemes adhere to international standards, audits and unannounced spot checks, the report stipulated.

Darren Fenwick, senior government affairs manager at the Enough Project and report co-author said advocates for a clean minerals trade were keen to understand how companies, who are connected to the Congo through mineral sourcing, are addressing their connection to the conflict that has resulted in millions of deaths.

“Companies whose reports show compliance benefit from positive public sentiment and increased brand recognition,” he said.

Fellow co-author Patricia Jurewicz, Responsible Sourcing Network director added: “Investors would like to see their companies establish baselines the first year and specify the steps they are taking so we can then measure improvements in transparency and accountability reporting over time. Our paper provides a set of specific indicators that can be tracked to allow for comparability between annual reports.”

 

Africa on K Street: Lobbying Is Not Restricted to the Developed World


Huffington Post.

By Vijava Ramachandran

This is a joint post with Julie Walz.

February 13, 2012

The aid community is well-accustomed to pushing for transparency in foreign aid transactions. But are we missing another key flow of money?

A recent article by Geoffrey York, African bureau chief for the Globe and Mail, described a contract signed a few years ago by the Government of Rwanda with Racepoint Group, which was tasked with doing an image makeover for the Rwandan government for a monthly fee of over $50,000. The rationale was that public perceptions of Rwanda were dominated by the horrific genocide that occurred in the 1990s, along with accounts of human rights abuses and media censorship. The contract with Racepoint reportedly aimed to increase the number of stories of Rwanda’s successes and block criticism of the government and its alleged human rights abuses. The effort landed more than 100 positive articles per month in newspapers from the New York Times to BBC, increased discussions of travel to Rwanda by 183%, and decreased discussion of the genocide by 11%, according to Racepoint.

In 2007, Racepoint also led a campaign to promote Libya‘s Gaddafi as an “intellectual and philosopher,” in advance of the thirtieth anniversary of his rule. Four years later, Libyan rebels hired the Washington lobby firm, Patton Boggs to help them unseat Gaddafi.

Other African governments have also invested in lobbyists. The Kenyan government contracted one of the top Washington lobbying firm Chlopak Leonard Schechter to restore its reputation after stories of election-related violence dominated the news headlines. It hoped to further U.S. support for its military and intelligence work, fighting piracy and dealing with the deteriorating situation in Somalia. Chlopak Leonard successfully placed positive stories in US media outlets and was able to call attention in Congress to the Somali crisis. President Obama’s Somalia policy even includes specific recommendations from the Kenyan government’s proposal to fight piracy and terrorism…Read more.

Nigeria: Ogoni Leader Welcomes U.S. Supreme Court Decision on Shell Case


Voice of America

James Butty

October 18, 2011

The president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People [MOSOP] said his group welcomes the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear a dispute between the Ogoni people and Royal Dutch Shell Oil Company.

The high court justices agreed Monday to hear a federal appeal by a group of Nigerians who alleged that shell was complicit in torture, wrongful deaths and other human rights abuses committed by Nigerian authorities against environmental campaigners during the 1990s.

MOSOP President Ledum Mitee said the decision sends the right message that Shell must be held to account.

“It is quite a refreshing news coming at this time, and I think it sends the right message that clearly, even though there have been delays in getting there, but at least we can see light at the end of the tunnel that someday Shell will be held to account,” he said…Read more.

UN expert urges DRC Government to audit the country’s debt


United Nations

KINSHASA (5 August 2011) – The United Nations Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights, Cephas Lumina, urged the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to undertake an audit of the country’s debt, as a first step to increase transparency and accountability in the management and use of public resources.

“The Government needs a clear picture of the country’s debt burden to lay the foundation for a transparent and effective public debt management system and avoid a renewed build up of unsustainable debt in the future,” said Mr. Lumina at the end of his ten-day fact-finding mission*.

In July last year, the country qualified for debt relief after completing the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries’ (HIPC) Initiative and was expected to have up to 80 percent of its external debt of $13 billion cancelled.

“I commend the Government for implementing policies that have led to a budget surplus this year and for attaining the completion point under the HIPC Initiative,” Mr. Lumina said. “These achievements will enable the authorities to improve the delivery of human rights-related basic social services, such as water, sanitation, education, health, and housing.”

However, the UN Independent Expert noted, corruption, a narrow revenue base and the fragile security situation in parts of the country remain significant challenges. “Sustainable development will not be possible without resolving them,” he stressed….(*) Check the Independent Expert full end-of-mission statement here.

“Blood diamond” regulation system broken


Aljazeera
Khadija Sharife Last Modified: 25 Jul 2011
The recent regulatory approval of Zimbabwean diamonds for sale reveals deep flaws in the system.
The recent approval of Zimbabwean diamonds mined from the $800bn Marange fields by the Kimberley Process (KP) chair, the DRC‘s Mathieu Yamba Lapfa Lambang, has prompted a global “human rights” outcry with KP members such as Canada, the EU, and the US claiming there was “no consensus”.

Meanwhile, other countries like China (the world’s fastest growing diamond consumer market), and India (which cuts and polishes 11 of 12 stones) have all given the green light to Zimbabwe, removing any potential problems of surplus minerals from Marange, which has been described by Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti as “the biggest find of alluvial diamonds in the history of mankind”.

With potential revenues pegged at $1-1.7bn annually, the support of neighbouring governments like South Africa, another major diamond producer, and “host” country to 3 million Zimbabwean political and economic “refugees”, is not surprising. Nor is the potential KP rupture being shaped as a battle between politically “interfering” Western nations and cash-starved developing nations.

That Zimbabwe’s diamonds are mined under the direct surveillance of the country’s vicious military and controlled by brutal lifetime dictator Robert Mugabe is not in question. Since the discovery of Marange’s diamonds in 2006, the military has largely supervised mining; mass looting by political, corporate and military elites has occurred, accompanied by violent displacement and human rights violations; companies based in secret jurisdictions such as Mauritius and Hong Kong have been granted “due diligence” approval; and there exists complete opacity over volumes extracted, exported and sold.

But to what extent does the vehement opposition stem from political objections to a nation controlled by the blatantly anti-Western Mugabe? More broadly, was the KP system – propagating that less than one per cent of global diamonds constitute “blood” minerals – built for the purposes of eliminating corporate and state-sanctioned exploitation, or normalising and sanitising it? Read more.

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