Assessing corporate action: ranking progress made so far

Two years ago the Enough Project initiated engagement with major electronics companies on conflict minerals, writing to 21 consumer electronics industry leaders to call their attention to this issue and inquire about the steps they were taking to ensure their products were conflict-free.  Their objective was to have companies at the top of the minerals supply chain use their buying power to influence their suppliers, exerting pressure down the supply chain, which has proven to be successful in diamond sector as well. Since then, we have seen a host of efforts initiated by companies, governments, and NGOs, both in Congo and internationally, to trace supply chains back to their sources, independently audit chains-of-custody, and conceptualize certification schemes similar to the Kimberley Process for conflict diamonds.

Enough presents an initial ranking on the progress made by the 21 electronics companies with whom they have engaged in this survey.  The report focuses on the efforts within the industry to address the conflict minerals issue and also assesses the response of other industries that are reliant on the conflict minerals. These rankings are an effort to provide consumers with the information they need to purchase responsibly, as well as a means of encouraging companies to continue to move forward in good faith.  Check out the report here.

This report provides a clear analysis of the efficacy of advocacy organizations such as Enough.  Although they acknowledge there is still much work to be done to end the wars fueled by conflict minerals in the Congo, this report shows the progress so far in their efforts to reach their goals to eradicate the trade of such minerals.

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Celebrities use leverage politics

Actor Ryan Gosling joins Ben Affleck in efforts to help bring Peace to the Congo.  He has traveled to the Congo and co-wrote several op-eds and contribued to the book THE ENOUGH MOMENT co-authored by Don Cheadle, another famous actor. 

Ryan Gosling works with the Enough project on several fronts  including making a documentary about the troubles in Congo.  He has used his celebrity status to raise awareness via books, articles, documentaries, and appearances on different tv shows.

See what he has been working on here.

Leverage politics is an effective strategy to bring awareness about the situation in Congo.  The Enough Project is using this strategy by calling on celebrities to influence the media and bring attention to the public about the unfair trade practices involving conflict minerals.  This approach has been successful because more celebrities are willing to use their star power for a good cause and work with different organizations to help bring attention to these issues.

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Social Media used to target companies

 

The Enough Project which I have also mentioned earlier in my blog launched a new strategy to their Change the Equation Campaign last year, using “21st Century style activism”.  They targeted 5 major companies: Dell, Apple, Nintendo, Intel and Rim to pressure them to be accountable for the source of some of the minerals used in their technology products.  They do this by encouraging consumers to visit the company’s facebook page and post a polite message asking it to sign a letter supporitng tough legislation that would require better “transparency and accountability in mineral supply chains”.  Enough has backed legislative measures in the House and Senate to address trade issues regarding conflict minerals.  They also launched an earlier campaign asking people to send messages to legislators on Facebook and Twitter asking them to support the bills.

This is an effective and modern strategy which targets companies directly involved with trade in the Congo.  They use social media to incorporate Corporate social responsibility into their campaign which combines accountability politics with information poliitcs to move information in lightening speed by using social media. 

Check out the full article here

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Then and Now: past campaigns can help new ones

Global Witness is an advocacy campaign that I have mentioned previously in my blog.  They were one of the first organizations to bring the world’s attention to the problem of conflict diamonds.  They released a report “A Rough Trade” in 1998 exposing the role of diamonds in funding the civil war in Angola.  This publicized the secret trade practices of the diamond industry in many African regions. 

Thanks to Global Witness, international pressure helped force governments take action to eliminate conflict diamonds from international trade.  It introduced the Kimberly process in 2003 which certifies that diamonds are not fueling conflict.  Global Witness is using their expertise in the blood diamonds campagn to fight to make sure cell phones are also free from the taint of conflict human rights abuses. 

Despite some difficult attempts at industry self-regulation, Global Witness is working hard for both campaigns.  They were nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for their work combating conflict diamonds.  They were recognized for all their hard work almost a decade ago, and shows perseverence in their campaign against conflict minerals now.

Here is more information regarding the Kimberly Process.  Hopefully we can use the same campaign strategies to establish a similar process to ensure conflict free cell phones. 

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Individuals who make a difference: RunforCongo

I came across a fellow blogger named Chris, who utilizes his talents to run marathons,  to help raise awareness about the Congo conflict. 

Chris’ blog is worth checking out because he has set a personal challenge just for himself, yet has received many followers and publicity because of it. His goal was to run 12 marathons in 12 months and it is exciting to see if he will succeed.

This is giving me ideas about doing something like this in New York, as a fellow runner myself, I can definately use this as inspiration to make a personal difference.  Upon doing more research, I found many local activities that host marathons of all different levels to in support of the Congolese people, especially for Congolese women.  RunforCongoWomen can help you plan an event in your local town!

Not only is Chris raising awareness but he is raising funds too, See below to help raise $$$:

This whole project is about raising awareness of the conflict in the Congo. But if you feel moved by what you’ve read, heard or seen about the conflict and you want to support a charity working in the DRC then please go to http://www.justgiving.com/runforcongo

All donations raised from his page will go directly to women and children in the Congo, not a penny wasted on admin in the UK.

Follow him now!

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Affleck is at it again-this time addressing the US Congress

ABC News reports on March 8, 2011 that celebrity Ben Affleck joined advocates and governement officials to plea with Congress to increase government aid to the DRC. 

The panelists called for Congress to appoint a special envoy to coordinate the efforts of NGOs and government agencies working in the country. Ambassador Donald Yamamoto, who also testified, said the United States gives $6.8 billion in assistance to the war-torn nation. NGOs account for 85% of that aid.

After visiting the country multiple times (a video I have posted in a previous post), Affleck founded the non-profit Eastern Congo Initiative to help form schools and bring medical assistance to victims of sexual abuse.

It is nice to see an Academy Award Winner use his celebrity star power to not only advocate to help clean up the Congo, but to have created the non profit Eastern Congo Initiative- Kudos to Ben Affleck! And kudos to all who made this plea to Congress.

See the article and a clip here:

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Laws and legislation-the legal route to the battle in the Congo

The Gonzaga Journal of International Law is a practice-oriented online international law journal that is student edited by law review standards.  The journal includes articles, essays, comments, and notes from practicing attorneys, law professors, law students, business professionals, and government officials.  This article was written by Maheta M. Molango, who is an Associate Attorney at Baker & McKenzie law firm in New York City. 

Molango discusses the success of the Kimberly Process in 2002, in which countries with participating governments have the duty to adopt legislation to enforce the Kimberly Process in order to set up import/export control mechanisms, relative to conflict diamonds.  She also refers to various legal alternatives that are available in order to help regulate the trade of coltan to improve the life of the Congolese population. 

The OECD Guidelines, the Congolese Mining code, the Lutundula Commission, the Ministerial Commission on the Review of Mining Contracts and litigation under the Alien Tort Statute are discussed to emphasize legal initiatives to pressure actors involved in the conflict mineral trade including pressuring of governments to protect populations against human rights abuses by businesses. 

The focus of this article is to question the efficacy of legal initiaves taken, and to try to shift human rights laws to hold companies accountable for their involvement in human rights abuses.  For anyone interested in the legal battle against human rights abuses in the Congo-this article provides insight to the steps we need to take in legislation.

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