Is Your Electronic Gear Funding War in Congo?

Posted by Holly Hughes on December 9, 2009

In the past two weeks, media coverage of a UN report about the funding of rebel groups in the eastern Congo has highlighted the connection between the trade in minerals used to make laptops, cellphones and digital cameras, and the ongoing violence that has killed more than 5 million people.

Articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and elsewhere. A report on CBS’s 60 Minutes last Sunday reported that the armed militias terrorizing civilians in eastern Congo are fighting for control of the area’s wealth of minerals, such as gold, tin, tantalum (also known as “coltan”), and tungsten which can be used in a variety of electronic devices.

In this month’s PDNews article “Would You Switch Digital Cameras If It Could Save Lives?”, John  Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, an anti-genocide initiative, describes his organization’s campaign to get electronics makers to eliminate so-called “conflict minerals” from their supply chain and offer consumers a way to buy certified “conflict-free” electronics.

Prendergast believes that, just as furor over “blood diamonds” cut off the biggest incentive for fighting in Sierra Leone, Angola and Liberia, consumer demand for “conflict-free” electronics could do more to stop rape, murder and the displacement of civilians in the eastern Congo than peacekeepers have managed to do. READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE

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