March 8, 2017
The US Conflict Minerals Rule has served significantly to reduce the incidence of armed groups taking control of mines to fund their wars. That is to say, it has dried up a source of income funding violent extremism, it has protected vulnerable citizens from abuse both as forced labor and as victims of that violence, and it has been a public sign that the US's role in the global economy will continue to testify to human dignity.
Due to the length and complexity of supply chains, consumers cannot as individuals act freely to oppose violent oppression on the other end of the supply chain. We have to have systems in place to shut off the incentive for warring groups to seize mines. It is no 'free' economy that allows armed men to enslave people. And it is no free economy that leaves consumers unable to choose to buy goods produced without such bloodshed.
The cost of compliance has been 74 to 85% lower than the SEC estimated they would be, but this is not finally a question just of costs. Are we unwilling to take some trouble and cost to protect human freedom?