October 30, 2011
I have visited the DRC five times in the last nine years, relating to the Anglican Church in many parts of the country I have been for 15 years a member of the House of Lords, UK Parliament, and spoken there regularly about DRC matter. I remain a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group of the UK Parliament, and receive regular briefing both through that Group, and direct from Bishops and others in the DRC.
I appreciate the current concerns both of some local people for their livelihoods, and of some commercial concerns over the expense, the time and the difficulties that they fear that "due diligence" will require of them.
BUT there is overwhelming evidence, over decades, that people have suffered cruelly through the unregulated pillage of DRC minerals, as the pillage has consistently been accompanied by forced labour, rape and oppression its proceeds have enabled the purchase of weapons which have done untold damage to ordinary people across the DRC but especially in the East: and the DRC authorities have received next to no Tax revenues from the country's mineral wealth.
It is in the interests of Companies that they can show that their products are transparently and decently sourced - anything less is morally wrong Companies must be absolutely clear that they are not funding conflict and devastation and consumers will soon not buy products about which this claim cannot be honestly made - any more than they will buy "blood diamonds".
This is also in the interests of local people, who must be enabled to live without fear, and to work in decent conditions
and it is in the interests of the DRC Government from the point both of good government and the welfare of its people, and of tax revenues.
Taking all this together, I judge that it is imperative that the Dodd Frank Legislation is fully operative as quickly as possible and that both Companies, and some of those claiming to represent rural Congolese, are profoundly mistaken and misguided in seeking to delay Dodd Frank's implementation.