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September 11th, 2014

Conflict minerals: what does due diligence mean?

MP Paul Dewar’s Conflict Minerals Act would require Canadian companies that utilize specific minerals (gold, cassiterite, wolframite, coltan, or any of their derivatives, such as tin, tungsten, and tantalum) originating in the Great Lakes Region of Africa (which includes the Democratic Republic of Congo and its neighbours) to exercise internationally recognized due diligence standards to ensure that these minerals do not directly or indirectly contribute to fueling conflict and funding groups engaged in human rights abuses.

Internationally recognized due diligence standards, as set by the Organization for Economic Co-oparation and Dvelopment (OECD) include:

  • Establishing strong company management systems
  • Undertaking risk assessment
  • Engaging in risk mitigation
  • Contracting third-party independent audits

As an initial step, companies will have to identify whether any of the designated minerals or products containing designated minerals that they use derive from the Great Lakes Region of Africa. This is important because even though conflict minerals are critically important sources of revenue for rebel groups, trade in designated minerals from this region constitutes a relatively small share of the global market for these minerals. Brazil and Australia have the world’s largest tantalum deposits by a considerable margin, while China dominates the world’s tungsten supply, and Indonesia leads in world tin exports. The top gold producers are China, Australia, the United States, and Russia. As such, many companies do not use minerals from the Great Lakes Region of Africa; for these companies, nothing further is required. Any companies that determine from this initial inquiry that they either do use designated minerals from the Great Lakes Region of Africa or cannot determine from where the designated minerals that they use derive then have to take further steps.

First, they must develop a plan for undertaking due diligence. Second, they must implement this plan to assess how high the risk is that they are utilizing conflict minerals. Third, they must take steps to reduce this risk. Fourth, they must hire an independent third-party auditor to verify each of these steps. Fifth, they must produce and publish an annual report including all of this information. These are relatively simple steps that set reasonable standards to which companies should be held.

Posted in The Politician by sfenwick
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September 11th, 2014

Pursuing conflict-free minerals: good for business

Although Paul Dewar’s Conflict Minerals Act is important for helping turn off conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, there are good commercial reasons for the bill too. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which developed due diligence guidelines for conflict minerals, benefits include:

  • Knowing and showing that the company is not supporting conflict;
  • Assuring buyers that a company has carried out all the steps and taken measures to prevent or mitigate the risk of contributing to conflict and associated serious human rights abuses in accordance with international standards; and
  • New business opportunities and responsible, long-term buyers for a company’s minerals as trust in its due diligence builds.

In other words, pursuing conflict-free status is good for business because consumers are looking for it. There are costs associated with due diligence, but it’s outweighed by the benefits.

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Posted in The Politician by sfenwick
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September 2nd, 2014

Campaign Launch! Support the Conflict Minerals Act

STAND Canada is proud to support the Conflict Minerals Act, also known as Bill C-486. The bill, introduced March 26th, 2013, would require Canadian companies to exercise internationally recognized due diligence standards to keep mined minerals from fueling conflict and funding groups engaged in human rights abuses.

The Conflict Minerals Act is is set to go to a Second Reading vote scheduled for September 24th, 2014.  STAND Canada is launching a campaign to mobilize Canadian citizens to encourage our Members of Parliament to vote in favour advancing this bill to the committee stage.

The first step to taking part of this campaign is to sign STAND Canada’s petition, which has been launched based on our policy recommendation on Change.org. To spread the word on our petition you can:

  • Use your social media accounts to promote the petition;
  • Send emails to students, colleagues, friends and family encouraging them to sign the petition; and
  • Reach out to similar organizations and encourage them to join our campaign.

More information about this STAND campaign can be found on the Conflict Minerals Act section of the website, as well as the blog over days and weeks ahead.

Extracting, processing, purchasing, and trading minerals in Africa’s Great Lakes Region has perpetuated a conflict that has claimed the lives of over five million people. This critical piece of legislation enforces accountability and transparency for Canadian companies that directly or indirectly use conflict minerals (tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold).

By supporting the bill, the Government of Canada would be initiating a plan of action that is international in scope, principled in its approach, and responsible in its intentions. And by joining our campaign, you would be working to raise awareness, push for change, and be involved in a movement that is truly international in spirit.

Scott Fenwick
Executive Director, STAND Canada

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August 21st, 2014

Two Pronged Assault: South Sudan State Harasses Journalists in the Name of Fighting Rebels

Two Pronged Assault: South Sudan State Harasses Journalists in the Name of Fighting Rebels

South Sudan is currently being racked by fighting between various rebel groups and government forces. The conflict is fueled by the ethno-political tensions following the December 2013 power struggle between President Kiir and his ex-deputy Riek Machar, with Kirr accusing Machar of orchestrating a coup. The Kiir vs. Machar debacle led to elements of the South Sudanese army to rebel and follow Machar. This political conflict has also propagated communal violence along ethnic lines, with the Dinka primarily supporting the government and most Nuer supporting the rebels. This ethnic division broadly reflects the tribal loyalties of the Kiir and Machar, and in turn leads to sporadic and decentralized acts of reciprocal communal violence by ragtag militias. These pressures on the government have, consequently, led to increasingly heavy-handed measures by the government to maintain control over the conflict’s narrative. Juba is using its security forces to harass news outlets, journalists, and activists who report on rebel activity and/or critique the government’s handling of the internal conflict, as well as human rights, and corruption.

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June 23rd, 2014

Gendering Genocide: Rwanda and Sudan

By Karen Meyer

It is important to understand the unique harm and injustice subjected to women and girls throughout genocide, including in its aftermath. If women tend to be the victims and are seen as the vulnerable group, why are they subjected to such travesties? Rape is recognized as a weapon of war; however, it is apparent when violent conflict plagued Rwanda and Sudan rape was inescapable for thousands of women.

The 1994 genocide in Rwanda differed in its treatment of men and women, which was reflected in various phases. Adam Jones suggests that the perpetrators pursued certain genders at different stages of the 100 days they ravaged. It started with adult men who can be seen to be the most dangerous, then eventually targeting adolescents and elderly men. At this later stage, Tutsi women were being raped or victimized. This then led to children and newborns being murdered in order to kill off “tomorrow’s RPF soldiers.” Finally it led to the extermination of women and girls to cleanse all Tutsis from existence (Jones, 2009).

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Posted in The Scholar by sfenwick
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