October 18, 2011
United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict submits this statement into the public record for the rulemaking in hopes that it will assist in guiding the work of the SEC in drafting strong rules for Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act:
Although the implementing rules Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act calls for are technical in nature, it is important to remember what it was designed to achieve. So-called conflict minerals help finance fighting and sexual violence on an unprecedented scale in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Control of Congo's natural resources and minerals have always been contested, and these vast riches have fuelled the country's conflicts. More than 200,000 rapes have been reported since war began in the DRC more than a decade ago. A pilot research study carried out by the MONUSCO (the United Nations Peacekeeping Force) Office of Gender Affairs in the DRC found that women and girls in and around mining sites in the country face several high risks, including sexual violence, without physical, social or legal protection.
These conflict minerals, which have helped enrich militant groups and parts of the national army, cannot be allowed to continue fuelling conflict and the consequent sexual violence.
I want to commend the United States for its leadership in trying to regulate these conflict minerals and to starve rebels and soldiers of the resources and weapons they need to kill and rape. I have encouraged other countries to follow the United States' lead in this regard, with the ultimate goal of establishing a global regime.
The intention of the Dodd-Frank law's Section 1502 is admirable. Inaction is not an option. Due diligence regimes need to be global and strictly carried out.
Companies should continue to invest in Congo, with third-party audits to minimize the risk of trading in conflict minerals. Those who do should face consequences from national police and international sanctions regimes. The resources of Congo should benefit the people rather than the rebels, who destroy their lives and livelihoods.
The women I meet in eastern Congo want an end to this war. One way is to make the war less profitable.
United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict