Conflict Minerals: EU Agrees on Draft Law

Representatives of the EU Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council of Ministers have agreed on a regulation that is to limit trading in conflict minerals. Such items are raw materials mined in regions in conflict – and are most often outside of governmental control. When rebels or militias control an area, a purchase of minerals mined supports local forces and means a conscious acceptance of violations of human rights and international law. The EU wants to end this dirty business and make a statement with the new law. “I very much hope that the EU model sets an example for other countries to follow”, says EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström.

The European Parliament and the Council must now formally approve the regulation. It obligates EU companies that imported tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold to investigate the trustworthiness of their vendors according to OECD Guidelines as of 2021. The law also requires the EU to study how well companies follow the regulation and to report to the European Parliament on the effectiveness of the rules.

Representatives of non-governmental organizations, such as Lucy Graham of Amnesty International, feel that the reach of the law is too short. For most companies, she believes, the law is not even valid, since they are not actually EU companies. After all, two of every three laptops come from China.

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