February 19, 2017
Dear Acting Chairman Piwowar,
My name is Lauren Fortgang. I am the co-founder and policy director for the Never Again Coalition. We work preventing genocide and crimes against humanity in Sudan, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC.)
The four conflict minerals: gold, tin, tantalum, and tungsten have been fueling armed conflict in the DRC for far too long. It is hard to say how many minerals have been smuggled out in the past because there wasn't a transparent supply chain to follow. When the SEC began implementation of Section 1502 of the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2012, the people of DRC were given a chance at peace.
It's true that Section 1502 alone will not stop all armed conflict in the DRC, but it will and has helped curb it. As consumers we have a responsibility that what we purchase does not knowingly inflict harm on others. Because of sustained pressure from consumers, industry leaders such as Intel, Apple, Tiffany Co, and Signet Jewelers have seen that there is a demand for minerals in their products to be sourced ethically.
Section 1502 requires companies to report on their mineral sourcing and due diligence practices. It does not keep mining companies from doing business in DRC. Creating transparent supply chains in mining means that the people doing the work of extracting minerals will be paid for their work. Smugglers and armed groups will not.
So much work has been done to implement Section 1502. It hasn't yet been long enough to fully see all of the positive effects that it can have on the DRC. Defunding or repealing Section 1502 will reverse all of that work and put money back into the wrong pockets.
As a consumer and an advocate for peace in the DRC, I ask the SEC to strongly consider continuing full implementation of Section 1502.