For over a decade, the conflict in eastern Congo has been fueled by a multi-million dollar trade in minerals that are then used in every day electronic products. The major armed groups and perpetrators of the violence generate more than million a year by trading in three main minerals: tin, tantalum, and tungsten, or the 3T's. The profits allow these armed groups to purchase weapons and perpetrate mass sexual violence in eastern Congo. These minerals are sold through a network of traders, smelters, and other middle companies and wind up in cell phones, digital cameras, iPods, and tin cans. The RAISE Hope for Congo campaign will seek to cut off the funding stream for the perpetrators of violence in eastern Congo by reducing the international demand for Congo's conflict minerals accompanied by equally vigorous efforts to strengthen governance, security, and livelihoods in Congo, creating legitimate channels for eastern Congo's economic development.
Now the deadliest war in the world since World War II, the conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has escalated rapidly during the past four months. Eastern Congo's violence is fueled by a multi-million dollar illicit trade in minerals. Armed groups generate over million each year by trading four main minerals: the 3 Ts of tin, tantalum, and tungsten, as well as gold. Although used in a number of industries, all of these minerals eventually wind up in consumer electronics such as mobile phones, portable music players, and computers. The supply chain for these products has for too long been opaque, making it all too possible for American consumers to indirectly finance some of the worst atrocities the world has ever seen.
International peacemaking efforts have been failing because they neglect the ways in which the armed groups are making money and perpetuating their own existence through the illegal minerals trade. The economic gains that accrue to rebel groups, renegade units of the army, and corrupt and criminal networks keep militias well-armed and leave the Congolese state crippled and incapable of controlling territory or protecting civilians. Immense corruption within Congo's ministries and security services exacerbates this cycle on instability.
Today a growing awareness of the link between consumer electronics and mass atrocities in Congo presents an opportunity to change course. Recent research, such as the latest report by the UN Group of Experts on Congo, has shed considerable light on the supply chain that connects the Congo conflict to consumers in the United States.
Breaking the link between mass atrocities in Congo and the illegal trade in minerals is a long-term goal. Enough will launch a multi-year effort through the RAISE Hope for Congo campaign to engage activists in a strategy to break this link through a public awareness campaign, congressional and executive branch advocacy, and engagement with the electronics industry. The campaign will work to engage students, activists, celebrities, NGO's, and the media in this effort.
The Enough Project is developing a preliminary strategy for Congo's conflict minerals through executive action, legislation, corporate engagement, and an activist campaign to build political and corporate will:
In close collaboration with experts, policy officials, and activists, the campaign aims to:
A) Launch a strategy paper. Raise Hope for Congo will develop and publish a strategy paper, advocating for a comprehensive policy strategy to reduce the international demand for conflict minerals, accompanied by equally vigorous efforts to strengthen governance, security, and livelihoods in Congo, creating legitimate channels for eastern Congo's economic development.
B) Engage the U.S. Government. Close consultation with the Senators on drafting of the legislation will be a key component of this work. Further, the campaign plans to engage the new Administration in the State Department, Treasury Department, and NSC on key components of the strategy, such as engagement of Great Lakes countries from Rwanda to Kenya, and in formulating a Transitional Regulatory Authority on Congo's minerals.
C) Coordinate an activism campaign. RAISE Hope for Congo will launch a public initaitive targeting the key end-user industry of the conflict minerals - the electronics industry - in order to build the corporate will to clean up their supply chains. The campaign will engage students and activists in its efforts to educate the public about the link between electronics and the Congo, through video ad contests, a speakers' tour of college campuses, and social networking tools. The campaign will also engage students in its efforts to pass disclosure legislation that requires all companies that use these minerals in their products to declare the mine of origin, as well as its efforts to pass state resolutions calling on the electronics companies to make their supply chains transparent.
D) Engage companies. For the campaign to be successful, industry must take action on a verifiable tracing mechanism for its supply chains and on stopping buying minerals from the conflict zone in Congo. Raise Hope for Congo will engage the industry through the new tracing initiative. If at any point, companies are lagging or being uncooperative, then Raise Hope for Congo will engage students in a public campaign to pressure the companies.
June 2009-August 2009: Development of this new credit-bearing program and presentation to the curriculum committee:
1) Policy Research - Interview key experts on Congo minerals, electronics supply chains, and Africa policy, in order to draft a successful policy strategy. Also, interview campaign experts on conflict diamonds, Darfur, and sweatshops, to learn lessons for the campaign.
2) Development and launch strategy paper
3) Government outreach. Meetings with the State and Treasury departments, NSC, and key Senate and House offices to build action for the comprehensive strategy.
4) Coordination with NGOs and activists. Outreach with NGOs and activists to support strategy and engage in campaign. The first action will be a letter to electronics companies, then activist letters to companies.
5) Corporate engagement. Engage companies in the electronics supply chain to build will for a tracing mechanism for the 3-T minerals, through the tracing mechanism initiative. Following the initial NGO letters to companies, we plan to meet with key electronics companies to explain our asks.
6) Activist campaign. Begin activist actions through the RAISE Hope for Congo campaign (Feb-TBD), targeting the industry as a whole initially, and then later targeting individual companies. Engage students through letter writing campaigns, public awareness and ad campaigns, advocacy for legislation, and possibly state resolutions.
The activist campaign will be initiated through the Congo Challenge, a three month program that will aim to recruit new Congo advocates and familiarize them with the many ways that one can be an activist for Congo. The Challenge will take place from March through May 2009, and each month will focus on a particular avenue for activism: RAISE Awareness, RAISE Your Voice, and RAISE the Profile.