Guess what? We won an important battle: The Wall Street reform act signed by President Obama this week regulates U.S. corporations using Coltan from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)!
Reread my blog of May 10, “Evaporize Goma!”
There I discussed several of the great horrors of Africa : war, corruption, child soldiers and resource theft. All embodied in one main mineral, Coltan, used by electronic companies and principally to power PlayStation3.
The largest source of Coltan in the world is in the DRC, a lawless, governmentless jungle controlled by warlords who are becoming billionaires by selling Coltan to companies like Sony and Intel.
In a little noticed provision of The Dodd-Frank Act, the commission which must now be created for consumer protection is charged with drawing up rules that will prevent any U.S. corporation from buying any minerals from the DRC unless it can specifically prove that its payments are not being used for …
… war, corruption, child soldiers and resource theft.
Which… is impossible. Every dime paid for minerals that come out of the DRC goes to warlords.
We won. An important, obscure battle that few people noticed but which has such an incredible impact on Africans, particularly children, has finally been won by the power of U.S. capitalist law.
The law regulates “specific minerals obtained from sources in the Democratic Republic of Congo and bordering countries, which include “columbite-tantalite (coltan), cassiterite, gold, wolfamite, or their derivatives” and certain other minerals.”
These are the “conflict minerals” of which Coltan is the leader.
And with the “force of law” we suddenly have all these marvelous U.S. corporations acting as if they never wanted to buy Coltan in the first place:
In June when passage looked likely sneaky guru Steve Jobs announced Apple would never buy Coltan from DRC warlords. (He didn’t say they never had and there is every indication they have.)
Yesterday, Michael J. Holston, executive vice president and general counsel for Hewlett-Packard, said, “We believe this provision will help … reduce the purchase and use of conflict minerals known to fund the ongoing armed conflict in the .. (DRC), and thus help reduce some of the factors that have contributed to the civil war there.”
Right, Michael. HP has intentionally avoided vetting its microprocessor suppliers before now.
So don’t let all this gibberish take away YOUR victory. It was individuals like you, who contacted your Congressmen, organized by a huge coalition of proactive African organizations worldwide. It was a peoples’ battle that overcame the World Transformer Corporation.
We won. And there’s even more. After the U.S., it’s U.K. corporations that are the biggest offenders in the area. Boosted by the new U.S. law, a powerful world advocacy group, Global Witness, announced it would now sue the new Conservative Government to follow the U.S. law!
Now all we have to do is monitor the victory. The commission has 270 days to promulgate the law. And after that, only a U.S. Presidential degree that the conflict in the Congo is over will terminate the law.
Visions of a President Bush insisting there is no climate change or threats of off-shore drilling sets the stage, now, for the new battlefield. But the big engagement is over. We won!