Target: Smartphone manufacturers worldwide
Goal: Ensure minerals used in smartphone manufacturing are not supporting war and violence in central Africa
The smartphone market has exploded and shows no signs of slowing down. It’s estimated there are now one billion total smartphones in the world. And yet the essential minerals used in the phones’ manufacture often come from a war-torn part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in central Africa. Many of these mines fuel a decades-long war there that has claimed the lives of millions.
Advocacy groups have gradually drawn attention to these “conflict minerals”, but the world has been slow to react. Phone companies still do almost nothing to ensure the minerals in their supply chain do not fund ongoing war and atrocity.
A bill passed in the United States recently does contain a provision to force to phone companies to verify that their minerals are conflict free, giving them a full two years to comply. Demonstrating their unwillingness to end their part in the senseless violence in Congo, three corporate lobby groups are suing the U.S. government to get out of their obligation to stop buying conflict minerals.
Such behavior is completely unacceptable. The companies can no longer claim ignorance as an excuse for buying blood-soaked minerals from the Congo. Sometimes they claim that avoiding conflict minerals would devastate the region still further since mining is a source of income in the impoverished region, but many mines in the region are already conflict-free, and verification systems already exist. The companies simply refuse to use them.
The fighting in eastern Congo has been going on nearly continuously since 1998. The Holocaust in World War Two claimed about 6 million lives. In eastern Congo, between 1998 and 2007, an estimated 5.4 million people died because of the conflict, and six years have passed since then. Current estimates of the death toll vary, but many put it around 10 million. The conflict minerals in the Congo found in smartphones on the market today fuel a conflict that has killed more people than the Holocaust.
An injustice of this magnitude cannot be ignored by concerned citizens of the world. Sign the petition below to shame the phone companies that are attempting to willfully ignore their part in the violence and tragedy in central Africa.
Dear manufacturers of smartphones,
The worldwide market for smartphones is growing by leaps and bounds. Your companies hold a newfound high level of prestige worldwide as more and more people buy your products. But, as you well know, many essential minerals used in the manufacture of your products come from mines in the eastern Congo controlled by war criminals to fund their continued violence.
The 2010 Dodd-Frank reform contains a provision that would require you to verify that your phones contain only conflict-free minerals, and yet lobbyist groups, on your behalf, are suing to get out of this obligation.
But the obligation is not just a legal one—it is also a moral obligation. I am writing to demand that you do everything you possibly can to stop buying conflict minerals. If you do nothing, the growing perception that smartphones are stained in blood will be well deserved. More people have died as a result of the fighting in the Congo than in the Holocaust. Do not be a part of something as horrific as that.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Image Journeys via Flickr