For the first time ever, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) brought its leading multi-stakeholder initiative on conflict minerals to the affected region in Central Africa.
The 6th OECD Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains, held jointly with the UN Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region, met November 13-15 in Kigali, Rwanda to review how responsible sourcing is working in practice in the region. Adam Greene, USCIB’s vice president for labor and corporate responsibility, played an active role at the forum.
The OECD initiative has become the key international process on conflict minerals – bringing together all the relevant players, including the OECD member governments, all the governments of Central Africa, local and international civil society groups and business representatives from the entire mineral supply chain from mining straight through to end producer or retailer. Additionally, the OECD initiative has produced the only internationally recognized due diligence guidance on conflict minerals, as well as two more detailed guides: one on tin, tantalum and tungsten (3T), and another on gold.
Unintended consequences of Dodd-Frank law
Reflecting the influence of the OECD process on this issue, the European Commission has indicated that proposed EU legislation on conflict minerals will be based entirely on the OECD Due Diligence Guidance, in an effort to avoid the unintended consequences of Section 1502 of the U.S. Dodd-Frank Act.
“The OECD forum meeting in Kigali was an important opportunity to assess how the due diligence guidance was working in practice in the region, strengthen regional programs and review ongoing challenges,” Greene said. “The biggest challenge continues to be the de facto embargo caused by Dodd-Frank, which created enormous disincentives for any sourcing from the region.”
Rwanda, for example, has implemented a country-wide chain of custody program that fully conforms with the OECD due diligence guidance, yet producers in the country still cannot find buyers in European or North American markets, because Dodd-Frank imposes the same burden on all sourcing from the region, regardless of whether it is responsible sourcing or not.
USCIB is working actively with the Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC) to the OECD and business groups from Central Africa to promote responsible sourcing of minerals and to create incentives for sourcing that could potentially off-set the disincentives created by Dodd-Frank.
A range of companies – including Boeing, Ford, GE, HP, Intel, Lockheed, Motorola Solutions, Northrop, Siemens, Texas Instruments and UTC – and numerous industry associations are participating in the OECD initiative. USCIB has played a key role in helping to coordinate business participation in the process, and Greene has been elected vice-chair of the initiative’s Multi-Stakeholder Steering Group.
Materials from the meeting in Kigali will be posted on the OECD due diligence guidance homepage (click here). The next OECD forum will be held in May 2014 at OECD headquarters in Paris.
Staff contacts: Adam Greene