The Private Sector: companies seek extension to proposed laws

 

Foley Hoag’s unique corporate social responsibility (“CSR”) practice was launched in 2000 and provides counsel to multinational companies, governments, and multilateral institutions regarding social, political, and environmental challenges.  Their advice to clients encompasses legal and reputational risk management with respect to human rights, including labor rights and the rights of indigenous peoples; the design and implementation of stakeholder engagement programs; and professional auditing services, ranging from due diligence desk-top analyses to on-the-ground human rights impact assessments and the monitoring of social, human rights, and environmental initiatives.

 Foley Hoag’s blog provided an update on the legal battle regarding the proposed laws:

 The extension applies to rules proposed pursuant to:

 Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which requires companies that utilize certain conflict minerals to conduct and disclose due diligence on their supply chains in order to identify whether the sourcing of these minerals is supporting the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and

Section 1504 which lays out transparency provisions requiring oil, gas, mining, and other extractive industry companies to report their payments to governments to the SEC.

Many companies and industry groups had requested an extension of the comment period because of the new and complex issues raised by the proposed disclosure provisions.  CSR is a rather new theory and many companies are still adjusting to the idea of being accountable in the public’s view.  I will be monitoring the legal progress made in order to boost CSR and create laws to protect our direct involvement with the Congo.

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From Actors to Activists Ben Affleck visits the Congo

Here is just part one of ABC’s Nightline show that aired on television in 2008.  He visited the Congo on several occasions to see firsthand what the Congolese people go through on a daily basis.  The people are vulnerable to 22 armed groups and the government has taken no action to provide any security for their people. 

An important note that he makes is that they suffer from hunger, on top of living in fear of being killed and raped.  There are a reported 1200 deaths a day, most of which are children, from various diseases ranging from malnourishment and sexually transmitted diseases. 

This is a video worth seeing as it sums up the day to day struggles of common people.  He also visits with local NGOs who are there to provide help and services. 

Ben Affleck is a notable actor and he used his fame to become an activist for the Congo.  Sometimes, people are unaware of what is going on in the world, but seem to be keeping up with Hollywood news on a daily basis.  This is a good way to target a group and educate people through means of popular media and through people who already shares the limelight in public view.

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Global Witness: Demilitarization strategy

 

Global Witness is an organization that aims to prevent future conflicts, and curb current ones, by denying combatants any income from the trade in natural resources.  They offer a new strategy that aims at preventing future conflicts in the Congo by limiting access of these minerals to armies and militias who can abuse their status to exploit civilians for these precious minerals.  Global Witness calls on the DRC government to demilitarize the mining sector immediately.  They also urge donor governments and electronics companies to do their part to clean up this bloody trade by exercising proper controls over their supply chains.

This provides an effective campaign strategy that focuses explicitly on a major actor that affects this black market of underground trading.  Armies and militias in the Congo are responsible for a majority of the crimes committed in the area, and have support of their government which slows down progress to end the mineral trade.  Targeting governments and armies is a smart strategy to clean up the Congo!

check out their website and how you can help:

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What The Economist has to say: Strides in Corporate Social Responsibility

 

This is an article published in August of 2010 by the most business savvy magazine, The Economist regarding legislation in America.  This is a positive step in the right direction- getting lawmakers involved to curb the black market and boost the legal one.  The article says, companies that report to the American Securities and Exchange Commission now have to reveal whether they buy minerals from Congo or from any of its nine neighbours and, if so, from where. New regulations likely to be proposed by the State Department next year may follow guidelines being drafted by the UN and the OECD that will advise companies on how best to trace the origin of their materials. 

Things are looking up for the Congo in 2011!

Campaigns such as the Enough Project and Global Witness have pushed for legislation to hold corporations responsible for their involvement in illegal trade for pursuit of profits.  Corporate Social Responsibility can play a pivotal role in cleaning up the Congo.

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The Power of faith

The Jewish World Watch is a campaign that uses Jewish communities as their main network to educate and help advocate against the conflict in the DROC.  It has grown from a collection of Southern California synagogues into a global coalition that includes schools, churches, individuals, communities and partner organizations that share a vision of a world without genocide in the Congo.  This campaign uses ethnic and religious bonds to target their audience for campaigning purposes.  They have proven to be successful by having raised over 5 million dollars to help victims in the Congo that result from mineral conflicts. 

What they say:

“The trade in illegally extracted minerals – specifically tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold – finances the armed groups that commit mass atrocities in Congo. Until we address this key driver of the conflict, sexual violence, murder and displacement will continue to destroy Congolese communities.”

I found this to be empowering because it uses the power of faith and religion to motivate communities to get involved.  Advocacy campaigns target different groups and targeting people who have faith in God, are great examples of people who are sensitive and caring to world events.  This proves how small community synogogues can make a huge difference.  This campaign can inspire people all all faiths to have faith in the world to make a difference and clean up the Congo.

This is an effective campaign because it targets a specific group that is a tight network, but shows how it has grown into a large network that was able to raise over 5 million dollars for relief and development projects impacting people in Sudan and Congo. They use a faith base to mobilize those who are involved in churches to help influence the international community.

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Power to the women!

The Raise Hope for Congo campaign advocates for the protection and empowerment of Congolese women and girls.  The Enough Project also collaborates with national, grassroots, and Congolese organizations to raise awareness about the crisis in Congo.  The campaign provides activists with informative tools to educate themselves and their communities about the conflict in eastern Congo and the epidemic of sexual violence against women and girls.  Rebel groups exploit civilians and take any measure to make a profit and with economic stability in chaos, it leaves women and girls vulnerable to being exploited sexually.  Mass rape is one of the more heinous atrocities committed against all women, no matter their age.

There are so many videos on youtube that will highlight the pain these women go through every minute of thier lives. If they weren’t raped, they live in fear, if they were raped, they live with pain, suffering, inadequate medical facilities, lack of voice, and fear of being infected with any sexually transmitted diseases.  Rape is often called the “invisible crime” because it remains unseen and unheard of because women are afraid to speak up.  Can you blame them? Who is going to defend or protect them?

Let’s help give these women a sense of security and rebuild their strenght to go on after they have been victimized.

here is one video from youtube:

Raise Hope for Congo is an effective campaign because they used a human rights approach to form coalitions and communication networks.  They developed strong links to domestic organizations in the DROC to gain firsthand knowledge about human rights violations and used that information to publicize their goals.  By framing the knowledge gained as human rights violations, it targeted an audience with ethical and moral obligations to make people feel obligated to help victims of crimes against humanity.

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Consumers can make a difference!

The Enough Project works closely with RaiseHopeforCongo to help promote awareness about the conflict minerals and to educate consumers before buying products that are not conflict free.

Check out this commercial posted on Youtube to help shed light about conflict minerals and to empower consumers to pressure companies to make sure their products are conflict free. It is also posted directly on the Enough Project’s website.

The Enough Project was started by a small group of concerned policymakers and activists who wanted to transform their frustration about inaction into pragmatic solutions and hope.  Enough launched in early 2007 as a project of the Center for American Progress and conducts intensive field research in countries plagued by genocide and crimes against humanity, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to help empower citizens and groups working for change.  One of their biggest partners is Amnesty International whose mission is to help people from every walk of life understand the practical actions they can take to make a difference. Their strategy is to energize diverse communities, including students, religious groups, activists, business leaders, celebrities, and Diaspora networks. 

The Enough Project’s approach to advocacy utilizes a  “3P” approach: promoting peace, protecting civilians, and punishing perpetrators.  Enough also focuses on a fourth and all-encompassing “P,” prevention.  For being a rather young organization, Enough has harnessed a large and diverse network of actors to help promote their goals.  They work in with 4 other campaings: Raise Hope for Congo, Darfur Dream Team, Sudan Now and Saetellite Sentinel Project to help reach a larger audience to help drive the international community to help bring about deep, lasting change to the most war-torn regions of Africa. 

Enough also has a long list of Partners who help sponser events, and fund their projects.  Having seasoned, educated and well known partners is a key strategy to having an effective campaign because it helps build your network, exchange information and reach a large audience.  Some partners are: Amnesty International, Campus Progress, Center of Concern Education for Justice, Genocide Intervention Network, Heal Africa, Human riths Watch, Invisible Children just to name a few.

Check out their website!

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