April 28, 2010

Legislation will next be marked up by Ways and Means Committee

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, the Conflict Minerals Trade Act, authored by Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), was marked up by the House Foreign Affairs Committee and will move on to markup in the House Ways and Means Committee. The legislation would establish protocols for companies that import goods into the United States to identify their products as conflict mineral-free or not.  This will make it much easier for U.S. consumers to know whether the products they buy are helping to fuel the devastating war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  The conflict has become one of the deadliest and most violent in modern history, where the rape of hundreds of thousands of women and girls has been used as a dominant tool of war.  Estimates show that between 800 and 1,100 people are murdered each day in the country.

“The House Foreign Affairs Committee markup is an important step forward towards reducing the violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo and improving corporate responsibility,” Rep. McDermott said. “This bill will empower companies and consumers to know which products—including things like cell phones, laptops, and other goods—are made with or without minerals that have helped fund the brutal conflict in the DRC. I want to thank Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman, Ranking Member Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Congressman Donald Payne for their indispensible leadership on moving this bill forward. For the sake of the people of the DRC, I am hoping we can move expeditiously through the Ways and Means Committee markup and the rest of the process so that it can be quickly signed into law.”

The legislation commissions a map of the DRC that will overlay areas of conflict with areas rich in mineral resources so refiners will know which mines are likely to fund conflict.  The bill also requires importers of potential conflict goods to certify whether or not their imports contain conflict minerals and the United States Trade Representative (USTR) will report to Congress and the public which companies are importing goods containing conflict minerals.  The legislation provides a two year period before implementation to enable industries to implement successfully, and it requires industry to use outside auditors to determine whether refiners are indeed conflict-free.