Campaigners criticise 'weak' EU safeguards against conflict minerals
A law proposed by the European Commission on responsible sourcing of minerals is not strong enough to prevent European companies from effectively financing conflict or human rights abuses, campaigners maintain.
The Commission has recently announced voluntary measures that will only apply to companies importing processed and unprocessed minerals into the European market.
The proposal covers companies involved in the lucrative gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten sectors. Campaigners, including Christian Aid, Pax Global Witness and Amnesty International, are warning that the proposal – an opt-in self-certification scheme available to a limited number of companies – is likely to have minimal impact on the way that the majority of European companies source their natural resources.
Sophia Pickles from Global Witness commented: “The proposal is tantamount to the EU saying that it’s ok for companies to choose not to behave responsibly. This risks undermining the duty states have to protect human rights, which is well-established under international law.”
Legislation introduced in the US in 2010 that requires US-listed companies to do checks on minerals coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo and neighbouring countries, has already prompted changes in the way that companies do business.
Campaigners are warning that without a clear EU law that requires companies to do due diligence and report publicly on it, the European Commission will fail to bring EU companies up to the same responsible sourcing standards as their American competitors.
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