GUE/NGL MEPs called for binding, effective and transparent legislation on the sale of conflict minerals, or minerals mined in conflict areas that can be potentially used to fund armed militias in these areas, during a debate in the European Parliament this morning.

The minerals include tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold that are mined in countries and regions affected by armed conflict or at risk of conflict. Proposed legislation passing through Parliament calls for a voluntary, rather than a mandatory, system of certification to be set up for these minerals.

German GUE/NGL MEP Helmut Scholz said: “People are victims of conflict and conflicts are funded by these raw materials. We need transparency in the production chain because we don't want business that is linked to war and the exploitation of children.”

He continued: “People like Denis Mukwege, church leaders and even business representatives say that a voluntary agreement will not be sufficient. We urgently need a binding agreement and regulation for the whole chain. It's also time to do something for the victims of these dreadful conflicts and to address the root causes of these wars.”

Spanish MEP Lola Sánchez Caldentey commented: “80% of businesses don't check their suppliers and don't reveal that their minerals come from conflict areas. People disappear, there is sexual violence and people are killed. We need binding regulation that is up to Europe's lead on human rights. We need a mandatory framework and to guarantee transparency throughout the whole chain of production and not only the initial phase.”

“It is urgent for us to use our environmental and human rights weapons to deal with this opaque and dirty trade based on the over-exploitation of human beings and the ground,” said French GUE/NGL MEP Patrick LeHyaric. “Believing that those who are pillaging the African continent will self-certify is naive. Mandatory and binding mechanisms with ethical, social, environmental and moral rules are necessary.”

Swedish GUE/NGL MEP Malin Björk said: “There is a direct link between the minerals used in our mobile telephones and extreme sexual violence in the Eastern Congo. We all applauded Sakharov prizewinner Denis Mukwege's work on restoring women's bodies and dignity after rape. But when we are actually able to make a real political decision to reduce these conflicts and rapes, we don't follow his recommendation on compulsory self-certification for minerals.”

MEP Björk concluded: “The EU is supposed to be a peace project and if we are really serious about this we cannot vote in favour of the legislative proposal that is on the table. We have to choose between the interests of big companies or human rights and the rights of women. My group chooses human rights and the rights of women and compulsory certification throughout the supply chain.”


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