October 08, 2013

Representatives Jim McDermott (D-WA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), and ten Senators and Representatives submitted an amicus brief in the latest court case on industry transparency around conflict minerals. The disputed legislation at the center of the case, which requires technology companies to disclose the location and methods of extracted minerals used in their products, was passed as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.

After the U.S. District Court in Washington upheld conflict mineral legislation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable joined forces to appeal. Many companies, such as HP, Samsung Electronics and Motorola, support the goals of this legislation and are already coming into compliance with the law’s requirements. Yet the appellants complain that such a responsibility is too burdensome.

“When crafting this legislation, we listened to industry’s concerns and adjusted many aspects of the legislation,” said Congressman McDermott. “We hoped to make a workable law and allowed for a two year transition period to enable successful implementation.”

The brief highlights that the human cost of doing nothing far outweighs a financial burden on businesses.

“We understand that implementing these rules is difficult and involves a new way of doing business for big companies. But we felt and continue to feel that those challenges are worth it to protect the human and labor rights of very vulnerable individuals in remote areas of the world, particularly the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” said Congressman Engel, who is the ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

The legislation has already had noticeable impacts on clean mineral production in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the Katanga province alone, production of verifiably clean minerals rose from zero to over 4,000 tons since April of 2011.

“The law we passed seeks to curb some of the devastation and violence that has plagued the DRC for so many years,” said McDermott. “Hopefully, it will also create transparency that consumers and investors deserve.”

“The U.S. consumer should be proud that the companies they support are working to improve human rights around the world, not undermine them,” said Engel.

Amicus Brief [PDF]