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Mandatory certification of EU importers of conflict minerals

It is a great victory that the majority of the Members of the Parliament (MEPs) have put the protection of human rights above narrow economic interests. "The vote at the European Parliament regarding conflict minerals is a victory for human rights. We are at a turning point in the dialogue" says Dr Denis Mukwege from the Panzi Foundation in the DRC. 

5/21/2015 Publisher: Joakim Wohlfeil

The Commission's proposal was overturned

On May 20 the EU Parliament voted to overturn the Commission's proposal, suggesting a weak regulation for conflict minerals, as well as the one adopted by the international trade committee and requested mandatory compliance for "all Union importers" sourcing in conflict areas.

"The vote at the European Parliament regarding conflict minerals is a victory for human rights. We are at a turning point in the dialogue" says Dr Denis Mukwege from the DRC in a statement. 

Transparency required by all actors

EU importers of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold for manufacturing consumer goods need to be certified by the EU to ensure that they do not fuel conflicts and human rights abuses in conflict areas, say MEPs in their position.

In addition, "downstream" companies, that is, the 880 000 potentially affected EU firms that use tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold in manufacturing consumer products, will be obliged to provide information on the steps they take to identify and address risks in their supply chains for the minerals and metals concerned.

Request for mandatory certification

As metal smelters and gold refiners are the last point at which the minerals' origin can be effectively traced, MEPs go beyond the Commission's "self-certification" approach and call for smelters and refiners to undergo a compulsory, independent, third-party audit to check their "due diligence" practices.

The regulation applies to all conflict-affected high risk areas in the world, of which the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes area are the most obvious example. The draft law defines 'conflict-affected and high-risk areas' as those in a state of armed conflict, with widespread violence, the collapse of civil infrastructure, fragile post-conflict areas and areas of weak or non-existent governance and security, characterised by "widespread and systematic violations of human rights".

Next steps within the EU

The Parliament decided not to close the first reading position and to enter into informal talks with the EU member states to seek agreement on the final version of the law.

It is a great victory that the majority of the Members of the Parliament (MEPs) have put the protection of human rights above narrow economic interests.

“But the war is not won”, says Nicolas Van Nuffel, president of he European Network for Central Africa (EurAc). “We call on the Council and the Commission to take into consideration the Parliament’s position”.

The EU legislative initiative needs to tackle the entire trade effectively in order to help break the links between the minerals trade, conflict and human rights abuses.

Read more at the EuRac website