Towards conflict free telecoms

The Democratic Republic of Congo is rich in natural resources and minerals from its mines are used in electronic products like mobile phones. Unfortunately, some of these minerals have funded conflict and human rights abuses rather than benefiting the civilian population, leaving the country one of the poorest in the world.

The telecoms industry has been working to cut out these ‘conflict minerals’ from their products for several years. Many big suppliers have made progress in cleaning up their supply chains, although none are yet able to say their products are ‘conflict free’. Continued support for these efforts from telecoms professionals can help the  move towards a conflict free industry that benefits people in Congo.

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US conflict minerals rule upheld by Court

The US conflict minerals rule, implementing section 1502 of the  Dodd Frank Act, was upheld by a court ruling in Washington yesterday. The rule, which requires companies to disclose whether  conflict minerals are used in their products
was implemented last year by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) but was the subject of litigation by US industry groups earlier this year.

The court rejected all of the plaintiffs’ claims and the rule as implemented still stands. The first report that companies need to submit under the Conflict Minerals rule is due by May 2014.

Intel, Microsoft and others urging continued industry efforts on conflict minerals

Intel, AMD, Dell, HP, Intel, Microsoft and Motorola Solutions are amongst the tech firms that have spoken out in favour of continuing efforts on supply chain transparency for conflict minerals. The move was prompted by the petition filed by the National Association of Manufacturers, the US Chamber of
Commerce, and the Business Roundtable for judicial review of the final rule implementing Dodd Frank Act Section 1502. This is the US law which requires firms to declare their efforts on tracing conflict minerals in their supply chains.
The statement can be found here

Business groups try to block conflict minerals rule

Business groups, the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, are taking legal action against the SEC rules requiring US-listed companies to disclose whether their products contain conflict. The SEC decided on these in August following 2 years of work to implement section 1502 of the 2010 Dodd Frank Act. These groups have been arguing that the rules are ‘ unworkable, overly broad and burdensome’ but some US  technology companies, who have been proactive on conflict minerals have previously split from this position. 

The legal action has been condemned by NGO Global Witness and the US Enough Project notes that several US companies, including technology companies, are already implementing conflict mineral checks.