The IPIS briefing offers a selection of articles, news and updates on natural resources, armed conflict, Business & Human Rights and arms trade. Every month, an editorial and related publications shed a light on a specific topic in IPIS’ areas of research.
In focus: Cobalt – Concerns over Child Labour in Artisanal Mining Should Not Overshadow the Corruption in Large Scale Mining.
In the news: Supreme Court of Canada Recognizes Corporate Liability for Human Rights Violations; English Court of Appeal Judgment Cuts Against the Grain of Common Law Cases on the Responsibility of Businesses for Overseas Human Rights Impacts; South Sudan: root causes of ongoing conflict remain untouched.
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IN FOCUS: COBALT – CONCERNS OVER CHILD LABOUR IN ARTISANAL MINING SHOULD NOT OVERSHADOW THE CORRUPTION IN LARGE SCALE MINING
Cobalt is a transition metal found between copper and nickel in the periodic table. Its exceptional properties of magnetism and its ability to withstand intense temperatures and conditions make it indispensable for jet engines, turbines blades and many new technologies producing “carbon-free energy,” such as batteries for electric cars.
Every country that wants to play a role in the coming digital and industrial revolution will seek to ensure a continuous supply of cobalt. A German study of 2016 predicted that the cobalt market could be multiplied 24 times by 2035. The United States have listed cobalt as one of their strategic minerals (1). The US government is particularly worried that China already represents 80% of the world’s cobalt chemical refining capacity. Furthermore, China has managed to secure the upstream of the supply chain. It now owns 8 of the 14 largest cobalt extracting companies in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where 64% of the world reserve of cobalt lies.
Large scale mining companies (LSM) extract 75% of Congolese cobalt along the copper belt, in Katanga and Lualaba provinces, and artisanal miners (ASM) the other 25%. However, a significant number of LSM company source from ASM, and this cobalt is blended with their production. Therefore, the supply chain cannot make a clear distinction between LSM and ASM production. Furthermore, interactions between LSM and ASM are not only commercial but also physical. Most of cobalt artisanal mining takes place in private concessions where the LSM is actively operating, or in an inactive part of the same concession, which impacts the working conditions of miners depending whether or not the LSM tolerates their presence or not.
While OECD and other international stakeholders have been working and advocating for a more effective formalisation of the ASM sector, the most vocal international NGOs have continuously depicted artisanal mining to the mainstream consumers as a child labour and exploitation problem (see the list of articles below). This phenomenon has been so powerful that downstream companies are frightened to be named and shamed in reports on alleged human rights abuses. As a consequence downstream companies demand their suppliers to eliminate any ASM production from their supply chain.
In January 2020, The NGO International Rights Advocates went a step further by suing the high-tech companies Apple, Alphabet (Google), Dell, Microsoft and Tesla for knowingly benefiting from and aiding and abetting the cruel and brutal use of young children in DRC to mine cobalt on concessions of Kamoto Copper Company (KCC). KCC is owned by the Swiss Glencore company, the world’s largest commodity producer and trader. Glencore also provides cobalt to Umicore, the supplier of these high-tech companies. (2) In a public statement Glencore has said that they do “not tolerate any form of child, forced, or compulsory labour in our supply chain. We support and respect human rights in a manner consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Glencore does not purchase, process or trade any artisanally-mined cobalt or copper.”
Obviously, child labour is a serious problem that needs to be tackled. However, by consistently associating artisanal mining practices with child labour and horrific working conditions, it enforces the idea that the supply chain would be cleaner if it was entirely controlled by the LSM sector. This reasoning is not only incorrect, but it also: a) deflects attention from the massive corruption and the environmental damage wreaked by large scale cobalt companies, b) exacerbates working conditions of the cobalt artisanal miners, and c) impoverishes communities that depend on ASM activities.
If all cobalt LSM companies started to exclude ASM from their concessions, it would increase the poverty rate in mining communities. ASM employs hundreds of thousands of men and women, who provide a steady income to their families. A study from the UC Berkley, based on 2600 households in Katanga, estimates that 60% of those households rely upon mining for their livelihoods. Banning these artisanal miners from their only income generating activity will inevitably increase instability, as happened earlier in the Eastern Congo provinces after the international campaigns against conflict minerals. When former President Kabila, in September 2010, imposed a ban on mining conflict minerals some artisanal miners joined armed groups, driven mostly by economic despair rather than ideology.
Therefore, as demonstrated in a report of the OECD, the working conditions of artisanal miners highly depend on companies’ tolerance towards them. When the company refuses artisanal miners’ presence in order to avoid being associated with bad practices or child labour, confrontations with the security guards often lead to material destruction, violence, human rights violations and sometimes death. To avoid detection by these companies artisanal miners will break into mining concessions at night, which obviously increases the already high risk of accidents.
The on-the-ground reality shows an extensive interaction and interface between ASM and LSM, both commercially and physically, throughout all segments of the upstream supply chain. Instead of pressuring LSM to exclude ASM presumably to avoid risk of child labour, the DRC government, international partners and downstream companies should encourage LSM companies to stay engaged with ASM, precisely to mitigate the risk of child labour. The study of the Berkley University showed that to maintain sourcing from ASM, coupled with support and forms of incentives could be an effective manner to reduce child labour without harming local livelihoods.
The focus on child labour in the ASM sector has undeniably overshadowed the gross misdeeds of the LSM sector, such as its displacement of local populations without compensation, massive corruption, and environmental damages, which have a severe impact on the lives of the local communities. In its report on the cobalt and copper supply chains, the OECD acknowledges that bribery to acquire assets in the LSM sector has been widely reported, and has allegedly resulted in the sale of DRC mines at a fraction of their market value. One notorious case is the Israeli businessman, Dan Gertler, who allegedly assisted the hedge fund Och Ziff and the Swiss company Glencore to fraudulently acquire mine concessions in DRC. Dan Gertler and Glencore have denied any wrongdoing. (3) In 2013, the African Progress Panel wrote that Congo lost US$ 1.3 billion in five transactions, all involving Dan Gertler. Since May 2018, the US Justice Department, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the British Serious Fraud Office have opened investigations against the Swiss Company for bribery and money laundering in several countries, including DRC, and its links with Dan Gertler. In December 2017, Dan Gertler was sanctioned for having conducted “hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of opaque and corrupt mining and oil deals in the DRC”. Despite US sanctions against the Israeli businessman, Glencore kept paying him royalties, for an estimated US$ 74 million in 2018, according to a Resource Matters report. As the NGO states, “these payments to a sanctioned entity present a rare case of a permanent and ongoing corruption risk to companies in Glencore’s supply chain”.
To conclude, downstream companies willing to demonstrate strong commitment of Human Rights Due Diligence ask, in light of the fight against child labour, their LSM cobalt suppliers to get rid of the artisanal miners present on their concessions. Yet, none of these downstream companies have stopped or discussed the risk of corruption in their cobalt supply chain by a LSM company that has been investigated by the US and UK authorities for corruption and for fraudulently gaining mining concessions. Thereby depriving mining communities from revenue that could finance much-needed infrastructure, such as hospitals and schools. Ironically, the artisanal miners that downstream companies and international NGO want to ban from mining are the same ones who are deprived of the above-mentioned infrastructures.
Guillaume de Brier
(1) Strategic minerals are defined as commodities essential to national defense, aerospace, and energy industries.
(2) United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Doe et al. v. Apple Inc et al., Class complaint for injuctive relief and damages (Case No. Case 1:19-cv-03737), 16 December 2019.
(3) https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-18/glencore-said-to-face-u-k-bribery-probe-over-congo-dealings-jhbxhab4; https://www.glencore.com/media-and-insights/news/updated-statement-by-glencore-to-the-international-consortium-of-investigative-journalists-6-november-2017
Note – Faced with the present covid-19 context, IPIS is concerned with the health and security of its staff, local researchers, surveyors, partners and local communities. As a preventive measure, IPIS decided to put all IPIS field missions on hold for an indefinite period, and to suspend all in-country travel by IPIS’ staff, local researchers and surveyors involved in ongoing projects. Read more on IPIS policy
Who’s at fault with the cobalt? | 11 March 2020 | CDR News
Class actions against corporate end users for supply chain working conditions: Graham Coop and Maria Fogdestam-Agius of Volterra Fietta consider questions of jurisdiction, knowledge and repercussions. Courts are increasingly asked to consider manufacturer responsibility for human rights impacts that occur within their operations in foreign locations. A class action filed in December 2019 in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia proposes to expand this litigation field by arguing that manufacturers using cobalt components should be responsible for human rights abuse in the operations of their suppliers within the global mineral supply chain.
FCPA developments: Glencore, Ericsson and increasing regulatory enforcement | 26 February 2020 | Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
Regulators in both the US and the UK have recently undertaken significant enforcement action against companies for alleged violations of foreign anti-corruption legislation. On December 5, the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced that it had launched a bribery investigation into alleged anti-corruption violations by Glencore. On December 6, 2019, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) announced they had entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with fines totaling over $1 billion with Sweden-based telecommunications company Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (Ericsson) in settlement of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) charges.
Battery manufacturing seal to be ready by 2022 | 24 February 2020 | Electrive.com
The Global Battery Alliance wants to complete its planned seal for fairly manufactured batteries by 2022. A prototype should be ready by the end of this year. The aim is to provide consumers with significantly more information about the production of the batteries when they buy an electric car, among other things.
The weekend read: Ethical strategies for cobalt supply | 1 February 2020 | PV Magazine
Since 2016, Amnesty International has denounced cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo for human rights violations and the use of child labor. This has led LG Chem and other companies to insist on standards for battery cell suppliers, as a step toward improving the situation.
DRC moves to monopolise about 25 percent of all cobalt exports | 30 January 2020 | Bloomberg | Al Jazeera
The Democratic Republic of Congo, the world’s biggest producer of cobalt, created a state monopoly that will buy all output not extracted by industrial operators in a bid to exert more control over the price of the key ingredient in rechargeable batteries.
The Mighty Apple, Google, Tesla, Dell and Microsoft in “the dock” – A Look At the Child Labour Lawsuit | 13 January 2020 | Opinio Juris
Apple, Google (through its parent company Alphabet, Inc), Dell, Microsoft and Tesla have been named as defendants in what could be a landmark case pertaining to the use of child labour in the mining of cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Cobalt mining: It’s time to face the facts and invest in making improvements | 20 December 2019 | FairPhone
This week, US-based human rights firm International Rights Advocates filed a lawsuit accusing major international manufacturers of profiting from the labor of children working in dangerous, and sometimes deadly, conditions in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). An article in the Guardian summarizes the scope of the problem and its underlying causes.
Glencore named in Congo child labour case targeting Big Tech | 20 December 2019 | Swissinfo
The Swiss mining giant Glencore is at the center of a new legal case against Big Tech in the United States over the “extreme abuse” of children mining cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
10,000 families to be moved from DR Congo cobalt site | 18 December 2019 | AFP | News24
DR Congo authorities are to pay some 10 000 families to move away from a south-eastern town sitting atop billions of dollars worth of cobalt, a provincial governor said Tuesday.
Glencore statement on child labour allegations | 17 December 2019 | Glencore
Glencore takes note of the lawsuit filed in a US court by IRAdvocates on 15 December 2019 regarding child labour in the artisanal mining of cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We are not a defendant to this lawsuit.
Battery recycling: Audi and Umicore start closed loop for cobalt and nickel | 17 December 2019 | Umicore
Sustainable battery recycling: Audi and Umicore have successfully completed the test phase of their strategic research cooperation. The result is that more than 90 percent of the cobalt and nickel in the high-voltage batteries of the Audi e-tron* can be recovered.
Top tech firms sued over DR Congo cobalt mining deaths | 16 December 2019 | BBC
Apple, Google, Tesla and Microsoft are among firms named in a lawsuit seeking damages over deaths and injuries of child miners in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The case has been filed by the International Rights Advocates on behalf of 14 Congolese families. They accuse the companies of knowing that cobalt used in their products could be linked to child labour.
5 Actions to Move Beyond Due Diligence in the Cobalt Supply Chain | 28 November 2019 | CSR Europe
In the latest study “Interconnected Supply Chains”, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) offers insights on how companies can extend due diligence in the cobalt supply chain to include corruption and human rights risk. In response, companies of the Drive Sustainability partnership, facilitated by CSR Europe, issued a Position on Cobalt. The prerequisite for impactful action?
Cobalt DRC Case | 16 November 2019 | International Rights Advocates
IRAdvocates filed a federal class action lawsuit today (link below) on behalf of 14 Doe Plaintiffs who are either guardians of children killed in tunnel or wall collapses while mining cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo (“DRC”) or children who were maimed in such accidents.
Corruption, Child-Labor Risk in Congo’s Cobalt Industry, OECD Warns | 15 November 2019 | Bloomberg
New OECD report challenges assumptions about risks in cobalt and copper sourcing | 15 November 2019 | OECD
Companies mining and buying copper and cobalt from the Democratic Republic of Congo must do more to fight corruption and child labor in the country, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said.
Volvo Cars to implement blockchain traceability of cobalt used in electric car batteries | 6 November 2019 | Volvo Cars
Volvo Cars will become the first carmaker to implement global traceability of cobalt used in its batteries by applying blockchain technology. The announcement follows the reveal last month of the company’s first fully electric car, the XC40 Recharge.
Project for responsible artisanal cobalt mining in Kolwezi, DR Congo: launching on-site activities |19 September 2019 | BMW
Project for responsible artisanal cobalt mining in Kolwezi, DR Congo: launching on-site activities | 19 September 2019 | BASF
With the pilot project “Cobalt for Development”, the BMW Group, BASF SE, Samsung SDI and Samsung Electronics yesterday kicked off their cross-industrial initiative aimed at improving working conditions of the people working at an artisanal cobalt mine site in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo). Cobalt is a key component in the production of batteries for electronic devices and electrified vehicles.
The “Recycling Li-ion batteries for electric Vehicle” (ReLieVe) project, founded by Eramet, BASF and SUEZ, will receive a substantial funding of €4.7 million by EIT Raw Materials, a consortium initiated and funded by the European Union, and the three members. The objective is to develop an innovative closed-loop process to recycle lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles and to enable the production of new lithium-ion batteries in Europe.
Congo, child labour and your electric car | 7 July 2019 | Financial Times
Informal workers produce almost a third of the country’s cobalt. Can mining groups address the problem? Kongolo Mashimango Reagen used to spend his days carrying 25kg sacks of cobalt from small mines in a southern corner of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is so rich in minerals that large deposits can be found just metres below the surface.
Cobalt: the dark side of a clean future | 4 June 2019 | Raconteur
An estimated 35,000 children work in perilous conditions to extract cobalt from the ground in the Democratic Republic of Congo. So what will the impact be on these exploited workers from rapid advances in electric cars, which are heavily reliant on this conflict mineral?
Volkswagen Group Joins Responsible Sourcing Network | 18 April 2019 | Volkswagen
Today Volkswagen joined an open industry collaboration for the responsible sourcing of strategic minerals that will use blockchain technology to increase efficiency, sustainability and transparency in global mineral supply chains. Joining the collaboration will enable the Volkswagen Group to gain greater insight into the provenance of cobalt used in lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and other types of minerals used elsewhere in the production of vehicles.
Cobalt from Congo: how to source it better | 8 April 2019 | Transport & Environment
As the transition to electric vehicles is gaining speed in Europe and globally, demand for cobalt has jumped over past years and will significantly increase in the future. This trend is expected to mostly impact the mining landscape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as the country accounts for around ⅔ of global cobalt production.
Risques de corruption peu ou pas gérés dans la chaîne d’approvisionnement du cobalt (pdf) | April 2019 | Resource Matters
Le secteur des voitures électriques et équipe- ments électroniques fait face à un défi de taille : comment s’approvisionner en cobalt, un mine- rai essentiel pour les batteries rechargeables, alors que le plus grand producteur mondial de cette matière, la multinationale suisse Glencore, s’adonne à des paiements extrêmement risqués à une entreprise sanctionnée pour corruption ? L’étude de Resource Matters et Sciences Po Paris révèle que la plupart des grands produc- teurs de batteries, d’automobiles et d’appareils électroniques ne savent que faire de ce risque dans leur chaîne d’approvisionnement. Le pré- sent rapport offre une série de mesures qu’elles pourraient prendre pour limiter au maximum le risque.
BMW to stop purchasing Congo cobalt in 2020/21 | 26 March 2019 | Electrive.com
According to Andreas Wendt, the board member responsible for purchasing at BMW, the company will no longer purchase cobalt from the Democratic Republic of Congo with the introduction of the fifth generation of electric vehicles from 2020/21.
Committed to supporting human rights and environmental protection while helping infuse more transparency into global mineral supply chains, Ford Motor Company, Huayou Cobalt, IBM, LG Chem and RCS Global announced plans to use blockchain technology to trace and validate ethically sourced minerals.
Blood Batteries – Cobalt And The Congo | 26 September 2018 | Forbes
Vivienne Walt and Sebastian Meyer wrote a piercing analysis in Fortune on the conditions surrounding Co supply from the world’s largest supplier of the metal, the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC.
Chasing Cobalt in Congo DRC | Spring 2018 | ESRI
Cobalt as a mineral, and its derivative compounds, have been used for thousands of years. Famously, smelt, a cobalt-derived pigment was used to color glass with a blue tint. Artifacts that attest to the use of this technique date back to Ancient Egypt and Persia, the ruins of Pompeii and the Tang dynasty in China.
Introducing the Cobalt Industry Responsible Assessment Framework (CIRAF) | 20 November 2017 | Cobalt Institute
The Cobalt Institute (CI) members have had a longstanding commitment to the responsible production and use of cobalt in all forms which is enshrined in its 5 key Objectives and 7 Guiding Principles.
Cobalt: A Precarious Supply Chain | 9 January 2017 | visualcapitalist.com
How does your mobile phone last for 12 hours on just one charge? It’s the power of cobalt.
The cobalt pipeline: Tracing the path from deadly hand-dug mines in Congo to consumers’ phones and laptops | 30 September 2016 | The Washington Post
The sun was rising over one of the richest mineral deposits on Earth, in one of the poorest countries, as Sidiki Mayamba got ready for work. Mayamba is a cobalt miner. And the red-dirt savanna stretching outside his door contains such an astonishing wealth of cobalt and other minerals that a geologist once described it as a “scandale geologique.”
Drilling down into the cobalt supply chain : how investors can promote responsible sourcing practices (pdf) | 30 September 2016 | UNPRI
Lithium-ion batteries power products at the cutting edge of technology, from smartphones to laptops and electric cars. But while they are often considered to be greener than their lead-acid counterparts, the major electronics and automotive companies that use them can expose themselves to serious risks. That’s because not only is the cobalt used in the batteries that power these devices obtained via a lengthy and complex supply chain, but cobalt mining has a high human toll.
From ground to cars: Mapping risks in the cobalt supply chain | no date | A2GlobalRisk
Demand for electric vehicles is witnessing explosive growth. Meeting this demand requires the metal cobalt. The following report traces the cobalt supply chain and explores the risks related to its production.
Minerals Due Diligence : Cobalt | no date | Responsible Minerals Initiative
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the world’s largest producer of cobalt and holds more than 50 percent of the global cobalt reserves. Cobalt is used in lithium-ion batteries that form an integral part of electric automobiles, mobile phones and laptop computers. Demand for cobalt is expected to rise significantly over the coming years.
Huawei Statement on Responsible Cobalt Supply Chain | no date | Huawei
As a member of the United Nations Global Compact, Global e-sustainability Initiative (GeSI) and RBA (Responsible Business Alliance – previously EICC), Huawei is committed to being a responsible global corporate citizen. We insist on ethical procurement and actively work to promote sustainable development of the supply chain.
IN THE NEWS
Part III: Due Diligence and COVID-19: States’ Duties to Prevent and Halt the Coronavirus Outbreak | 25 March 2020 | EJIL:Talk!
Part II: Due Diligence and COVID-19: States’ Duties to Prevent and Halt the Coronavirus Outbreak | 25 March 2020 | EJIL:Talk!
Part I: Due Diligence and COVID-19: States’ Duties to Prevent and Halt the Coronavirus Outbreak | 24 March 2020 | EJIL:Talk!
This is a 3-Part post on the international legal framework relevant to the prevention of, response to and mitigation of the global public health crisis engendered by the outbreak of COVID-19 — the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Part I introduces the concept of due diligence which characterises the said legal framework and looks at relevant rules of general international law and international human rights law. Part II focuses on the International Health Regulations and the international rules applicable to the protection of persons in the event of disasters. Part III assesses some reported government measures to address the crisis in light of the analysed legal framework and suggests a way ahead.
BUSINESS & HUMAN RIGHTS
U.S. investigates child labor in Ivory Coast cocoa supply chains | 30 March 2020 | Reuters
U.S. customs authorities have asked cocoa traders to report where and when they encounter child labor in their supply chains in top grower Ivory Coast, three industry sources said, following calls from American lawmakers to ban some imports.
Supreme Court of Canada Recognizes Corporate Liability for Human Rights Violations | 26 March 2020 | Just Security
Late last month, in Nevsun Resources Ltd. v. Araya, the Supreme Court of Canada held that Canadian corporations may be sued in tort for violations of international human rights law that occur abroad. The Canadian Supreme Court thus resolved under Canadian law an issue that the U.S. Supreme Court has struggled with unsuccessfully since 2012. Nevsun is part of a growing trend of court decisions in other countries recognizing corporate liability under various theories. These decisions illustrate a basic point that is too often overlooked in the debate over corporate liability — that international law leaves it to each domestic legal system to decide how to enforce norms of international human rights.
Kalma v African Minerals: English Court of Appeal Judgment Cuts Against the Grain of Common Law Cases on the Responsibility of Businesses for Overseas Human Rights Impacts | 24 March 2020 | EJIL:Talk!
Over the last three years, the English courts have demonstrated an increasing willingness to accept jurisdiction over tort claims brought against UK multinationals in relation to human rights impacts in their overseas operations. Last week, the English Court of Appeal handed down judgment in Kadie Kalma & Ors. v. African Minerals Ltd And Ors  EWCA Civ 144. This post summarises the judgment and sets out what it might mean for businesses and rights holder alike.
Court of Appeal confirms no liability for UK mining company in relation to human rights abuses in Sierra Leone | 21 March 2020 | White & Case LLP | JDSupra
The Court of Appeal’s recent decision in Kadie Kalma & Ors v African Minerals Ltd1 stands as a stark reminder of the risks and responsibilities companies bear when operating in sectors and jurisdictions with a high risk of human rights abuses.
Mining company not liable for unlawful acts of Sierra Leonean police | 19 March 2020 | Allen & Overy LLP | JDSupra
African Minerals: Court of Appeal of England and Wales upholds finding that mining company is not liable for unlawful acts of Sierra Leonean police | 11 March 2020 | Allen & Overy LLP | JDSupra
The Court of Appeal of England and Wales has upheld the High Court’s verdict in Kadie Kalma & ors v African Minerals Ltd & ors  EWCA Civ 144. This is an important case for businesses exposed to human rights risks through their reliance on third parties, particularly state security forces, in relation to their operations abroad. The finding in this appeal confirms the limits on the circumstances in which a company can be held liable for harms caused by such third parties.
Community Engagement in Mining Projects | 16 March 2020 | Sebastián Donoso & Asociados | Lexology
This chapter covers indigenous issues (UNDRIP and ILO Convention 169) under the broad umbrella of community engagement. Following ISO 26000, we understand community engagement as stakeholder engagement that is able to comply with the social responsibility of an organisation for the impacts of its decisions and activities on society and the environment, through transparent and ethical behaviour.
Revisiting Conflict Minerals Compliance – Developments, Trends And Action Items For The Current Reporting Year And Beyond | 10 March 2020 | Ropes & Gray LLP | Mondaq
The seventh year of filings under the U.S. Conflict Minerals Rule will be due in slightly under three months. At most companies, conflict minerals reporting and compliance have been more or less static for the last few years. It is time for many companies to take a fresh look at their conflict minerals disclosure and compliance program. In some cases, disclosures have become outdated and compliance programs have not kept pace with market developments. In addition, over the last few years, the global regulatory landscape has continued to evolve, both with respect to conflict minerals specifically and human rights more broadly, with more changes on the way. Furthermore, investor expectations concerning supply chains – as part of ESG integration by mainstream investors – continue to increase. In this Article, we discuss these and other developments and trends, as well as action items for companies to consider.
Upcoming conflict minerals regulation does not cover major technology companies | 9 March 2020 | ComputerWeekly
A forthcoming regulation designed to stem the flow of conflict minerals is unlikely to change the behaviour of technology companies because loopholes in the new rules mean they are not covered.
Civil society challenges complacency of the Kimberley Process | 5 March 2020 | Mining Review
Addressing government and industry representatives in New York the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition questioned the often-hailed contribution of the KP to preventing conflict and promoting development.
Non, vos diamants ne sont toujours pas éthiques | 4 March 2020 | Justice et Paix & IPIS | La Libre Belgique
Comme chaque année, l’Assemblée Générale des Nations Unies a adopté hier une résolution renouvelant le mandat du Processus Kimberley (PK) pour la 17e fois. Pourtant, ce système de certification de diamants créé en 2003 a plus d’une fois montré ses limites et son incapacité à se réformer afin d’endiguer réellement les “diamants de conflits”. Le dernier cycle de révision et de réforme, qui s’est clôturé en novembre 2019 à New Dehli sans la moindre avancée, remet d’ailleurs en cause l’utilité même d’un tel processus.
Revisiting Conflict Minerals Compliance – Developments, Trends and Action Items for the Current Reporting Year and Beyond | 4 March 2020 | Ropes & Gray LLP
The seventh year of filings under the U.S. Conflict Minerals Rule will be due in slightly under three months. At most companies, conflict minerals reporting and compliance have been more or less static for the last few years. It is time for many companies to take a fresh look at their conflict minerals disclosure and compliance program.
Are the 2011 UN Guiding Principles Working Effectively and being Rigorously Applied in the Maritime Industry?(pdf) | 4 March 2020 | Human Rights at Sea
Over the last seven years there has been little concerted and collaborative effort by the shipping industry to embed the concept, develop unified policies, drive effective remedy and demonstrate public accountability in the field of business and human rights. This has been exacerbated by too much corporate social responsibility talk in the margins followed by too little action, in particular from leading membership bodies.
In its 5-4 decision in Nevsun Resources Ltd. v. Araya, the Supreme Court of Canada has given Canadian courts the green light to develop new forms of civil liability based on alleged breaches of customary international law. In doing so, it has permitted torts that are unlike those in any other jurisdiction – with the possible exception of claims brought under the United States’ Alien Tort Statute.
Trafic de bois de rose en Casamance: un Suisse accusé de pillage par une ONG | 25 March 2020 | RFI
Le bois de rose, coupé illégalement en Casamance et exporté depuis la Gambie, était l’une des sources de richesse de l’ancien dictateur gambien Yahya Jammeh. Avec son associé Nicolae Bogdan Buzaianu, ils auraient contrôlé le trafic de 2014 à 2017. Une dénonciation pénale a été déposée en suisse par l’ONG Trial International.
Un trafic de bois précieux en Casamance | 23 March 2020 | MondAfrique
Entre 2014 et 2017, la Gambie a exporté pour près de 163 millions de dollars de bois de rose, une essence rare et précieuse, à destination de la Chine.
South Africa advised to cancel its commitment to giant DRC hydroelectric power project, says new report | 20 March 2020 | DailyMaverick
Authors of the report contend that power from the controversial project would probably be more expensive than other domestic sources and could soon become completely unnecessary as the local Medupi and Kusile power stations and increasing renewable energy production eventually come on stream.
Uganda gold exports more than doubled to over Sh100b last year | 12 March 2020 | Standard
Uganda’s gold exports more than doubled in 2019 compared with the previous year, according to data from the central bank seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
Greenpeace accuses DR Congo of signing vast new logging contracts | 6 March 2020 | France24
Greenpeace on Thursday accused the Democratic Republic of Congo’s government of signing huge new logging contracts in the country’s vast rainforest, a central part of Earth’s natural defence against global warming.
Cameroon: A War of Words | 25 March 2020 | Africa in Fact | AllAfrica
Cameroon: the deadly cycle – A steady flow of weapons is fuelling the vicious conflict between Cameroon’s Anglophone regions and the government.
How Arms Proliferation Is Driving Herder-Farmer Conflict in the Sahel | 19 March 2020 | World Politics Review
Africa’s Sahel region, the long stretch of scrubland that extends from Mauritania to Sudan, has emerged as a critical global hotspot in recent years, as national governments struggle to contain growing insecurity, rampant criminality and waves of violent extremism. But efforts to stabilize this transcontinental belt just south of the Sahara have largely overlooked one critical driver of tensions: the centuries-old but increasingly violent disputes between nomadic herding and sedentary farming communities. A recent influx of weapons has given these conflicts new and deadly force, with grave implications for international security.
Afrique : les importations d’armes ont baissé de 16% au cours des dix dernières années | 12 March 2020 | ZoomEco
Les importations d’armes en Afrique ont baissé de 16% au cours des dix dernières années, indique une note technique d’information sur les tendances mondiales des exportations et importations d’armes, publiée le 9 mars 2020 par l’Institut international de recherche sur la paix de Stockholm (SIPRI). La note technique indique que les importations d’armes par les Etats africains ont diminué de 16% entre 2010-2014 et 2015-2019.
US State Department Reports Tanzania Is East African Narcotics Trafficking Hub | 10 March 2020 | Maritime Security Review
Tanzania is East Africa’s biggest hub for drugs trafficking, a US government agency has said, putting Dar es Salaam on the radar of international anti-narcotics spies. A new report released by the US department of State says that Tanzania-based drug trafficking organisations and courier networks operate globally and play a prominent role in the Southwest Asian heroin trade, using Dar es Salaam as the launchpad to control the trade in East Africa.
Silencing the Guns: Promoting Sustained Peace in Africa | 7 March 2020 | Charged Affairs
The 36th ordinary session of the African Union (AU) opened in early February not only as the beginning of South Africa’s chairship year, but also representing the deadline of the institutions’s landmark Silencing the Guns initiative, undertaken in 2013 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of what was then known as the Organization of African Unity. The ambition to bring about an end to war, civil conflict, gender-based violence, and genocide in Africa over the course of seven years was a lofty goal by any metric, and as many parts of the continent remain mired in conflict it is clear that there is still much work to be done.
RCA : arrestation de deux importants chefs Anti-Balaka soupçonnés de crimes de guerre | 30 March 2020 | Corbeau News
Ces deux chefs Anti-Balaka, selon des sources judiciaires, pourraient être transférés devant la cour pénale spéciale (CPS) pour crimes de guerre et crimes contre l’humanité. Mais d’ores et déjà, des voix s’élèvent pour dénoncer les procédures auxquelles les deux hommes ont été arrêtés, alors que leurs interrogatoires devraient débuter ce lundi 30 mars.
Hopes rising that war criminals will be brought to court | 30 March 2020 | SwissInfo
With Switzerland’s first international war crimes trial in a non-military court expected to take place in coming months, Swiss NGO TRIAL International says such “universal jurisdiction” cases are on the rise around the world. Switzerland has several other cases under investigation but still needs to step up the pace, it says.
Ituri : les FARDC récupèrent Kpandroma aux mains des miliciens de CODECO | 29 March 2020 | Radio Okapi
Les Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC) ont récupéré, samedi 28 mars, sans combats le centre commercial de Kpandroma situé à environs 140 km, au Nord de Bunia dans le Territoire de Djugu (Ituri). Selon le commandant intérimaire du secteur opérationnel de l’armée en Ituri, Le général Yav Aul Ngol Robert, cette entité était occupée pendant plusieurs semaines par des éléments du groupe armé CODECO.
Ituri : les FARDC confirment la mort du leader de CODECO, Justin Ngudjolo | 27 March 2020 | Radio Okapi
Dans une interview exclusive accordée vendredi 27 mars à Radio Okapi, le Commandant intérimaire du secteur opérationnel des FARDC en Ituri, le général Yav Anvoul, a confirmé la mort du leader du groupe armé CODECO (Coopérative pour le Développement du Congo).
Parler des crimes du Front Patriotique Rwandais (FPR), n’est pas négationniste ! | 25 March 2020 | JamboNews
Le colloque du 9 mars 2020 au sénat français, intitulé “l’Afrique des Grands Lacs 60 ans de tragique instabilité”, avait pour ambition de “faire le point sur les conflits qui dévastent cette région” depuis les années 1960, jusqu’à aujourd’hui. (Les vidéos du colloque du 9 mars 2020 au sénat français publiées intégralement.)
South Sudan: root causes of ongoing conflict remain untouched | 22 March 2020 | The Conversation
Since civil war broke out in December 2013 in the young state of South Sudan, the country has made 12 peace agreements. None of which have brought sustainable peace. The parties continue to battle over control of resources, mostly oil.
Sudan peace talks: Agreement on commission for nomads and herders | 22 March 2020 | Dabanga
The government delegation and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebel alliance in the Darfur track of the Sudan peace talks being held in the South Sudan capital of Juba, have agreed on the formation of a developmental commission for the nomadic and herders in Darfur as a developmental approach to end any potential conflict in the future.
Armed rebel groups still a major threat in the DRC – SANDF Major | 18 March 2020 | DefenceWeb
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a volatile place that can change quickly and the threat of armed rebel groups attacking civilians is still very real, according to a South African National Defence Force (SANDF) Major stationed in the country.
Une milice sectaire viole et tue en toute impunité dans la province de l’Ituri en RDC | 16 March 2020 | VoA Afrique
Amputé de trois doigts à la main gauche, l’abbé Guy-Robert Mandro porte dans sa chair la marque du regain de violences en Ituri, dans le nord-est de la République démocratique du Congo, où une cinquantaine de civils ont été tués depuis début mars, et plus de 700 depuis fin 2017.
Ituri : un leader de la milice CODECO neutralisé par les FARDC | 14 March 2020 | l’Interview
Les forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC) ont annoncé ce samedi 14 mars 2020 avoir neutralisé un leader de la rébellion de la coopérative pour le développement du Congo (CODECO) dans le territoire de Djugu.
Centrafrique: affrontements au sein du groupe armé FPRC à Ndélé | 7 March 2020 | RFI
En République centrafricaine, la situation reste tendue dans la ville de Ndélé, dans le nord du pays après des affrontements inter-communautaires, au matin du vendredi 6 mars, entre combattants du Front populaire pour la renaissance de la Centrafrique (FPRC).
Cameroon’s language war | 6 March 2020 | The Article
President Paul Biya of Cameroon is, in many ways, your bog-standard African “authoritarian ruler”, or, as diplomats don’t say, “dictator”. He has held on to power for almost forty years and is now in his seventh term as head of state, the oldest and longest-standing ruler in Africa. In 1983, as sole candidate, he won 99.98 per cent of the votes. He followed the example of other one-party states in the 1990s, allowing opposition parties to emerge and simply rigging subsequent elections.
Le terrorisme islamiste s’accroît au Mozambique | 5 March 2020 | Ouest-France
Villages incendiés, hommes décapités, femmes et enfants enlevés : les habitants de la province du Cabo Delgado, dans le nord du Mozambique, le long de la frontière avec la Tanzanie, vivent dans la terreur. Les attaques, attribuées à un mystérieux groupe islamiste, se sont intensifiées depuis le début de l’année : les Nations Unies en ont dénombré 28. Le 29 février, deux personnes ont été tuées à Pemba, un port sur l’océan Indien qui avait été jusqu’alors été épargné.
Violent extremism prevention ‘only effective’ if human rights are enshrined | 4 March 2020 | UN News
Many global programmes aimed at countering violent extremism have negative impacts on human rights and may even ‘foster radicalization’ rather than preventing it, an independent UN human rights expert warned on Wednesday.
Chad and its Conflicts with Neighboring Countries | 4 March 2020 | Ifriqiya | Moshe Dayan Center
In this issue of Ifriqiya, Germaine Guidimabaye Remadji describes several of the conflicts going on inside and around Chad. She analyses the role of the current government, as well as persistent social and ethno-religious challenges that have complicated efforts to reduce civilian displacement and the rise of jihadi organizations in the Lake Chad region in recent years.
Cameroon army defends its behaviour in Anglophone regions | 4 March 2020 | RFI
Cameroon’s military has hit back at criticism about its conduct in the country’s Anglophone regions in response to reporting by RFI on alleged abuses by Cameroonian soldiers. An army spokesperson says Cameroon security forces operate with “professionalism, discipline, honour and loyalty”, furthermore, foreign non-governmental organisations are supporting Anglophone secessionists.
Cameroon’s Anglophone crisis, an unravelling catastrophe | 2 March 2020 | RFI
The day the military came to Bella’s village in Talingai, in the South-West Anglophone region of Cameroon, the villagers, terrified, escaped into the bush behind the village, where they set up a camp. Speaking to RFI in Mamfe, smartly dressed in a bright blue dress, it is only when she begins her story that her whole body heaves, her shoulders hunch up. She distinctly remembers what happened this time last year, that changed her life forever.
Libya’s Legacy: A Case of Failed Conflict Prevention | 1 March 2020 | The National Interest
Libya would appear to be the least likely candidate for a non-threatening external intervention intended to prevent conflict. Libya’s civil war, with legions of foreign powers intervening on both sides, is on the cusp of turning the country into the next Syria. The prominent coastal city of Sirte has just fallen and the battle over the capital Tripoli has been joined by a fresh influx of foreign mercenaries who are simultaneously cutting off the government’s oil exports.