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Conflict-Free Resolutions Help Stem Violence In The Congo

Cara Palmer |
February 4, 2012 | 6:45 p.m. PST

Senior Editor

(Andre Thiel, Creative Commons)
(Andre Thiel, Creative Commons)
Read Part 1 of the series, "Conflict Minerals Foment Violence in the Congo," here.

Read Part 2 of the series, "Conflict-Free Minerals Reform in the Congo: What You Can Do," here.

Did you know that the use of certain minerals in the production of most portable electronic devices serves to perpetuate a violent conflict in Africa characterized by human rights violations, including mass rape?

According to the Enough Project’s Raise Hope for Congo campaign:

“For more than a century, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been plagued by regional conflict and a deadly scramble for its vast natural resources. In fact, greed for Congo’s natural resources has been a principal driver of atrocities and conflict throughout Congo’s tortured history. In eastern Congo today, these mineral resources are financing multiple armed groups, many of whom use mass rape as a deliberate strategy to intimidate and control local populations.”

Several colleges and universities throughout the United States have passed conflict-free resolutions, including the University of Colorado-Boulder, Clark University, Duke University, Stanford University, Ohio University Honors Tutorial College, Pomona College, University of Pennsylvania, and Westminster College. Many other campuses are home to campaigns working to pass similar resolutions. These resolutions attempt to pressure companies to make their supply chains transparent, and to then ensure that, in the future, none of the minerals within their supply chain come from conflict regions, therefore stemming the conflict by limiting the income of armed groups who use the sale of conflict minerals to perpetuate the conflict.

Why is the fight for conflict-free so focused on college campuses? Raise Hope for Congo has the answer:

“Because universities are such huge consumers of electronics, you and your campus have an important role to play in ending one of the world’s biggest human rights catastrophes in modern history. Make Your Campus Conflict-Free is an initiative to utilize student influence and activism to encourage university officials and stakeholders to commit to buying conflict-free electronics from companies once they are made available.”

Here at the University of Southern California (USC), students involved with USC’s chapter of STAND, the national, student-led division of the Genocide Intervention Network, are determined to make USC a conflict-free campus.

Currently, USC’s STAND is focusing on gathering signatures on a petition in the interest of raising awareness among the student body about the current conflict in the Congo, and in the interest of demonstrating that students on USC’s campus are willing to speak out about their opposition to complicity with the grave human rights violations associated with the sale and use of conflict minerals.

USC, as a large university, is an important consumer of electronic devices. It, and other universities like it, has the power to pressure electronics companies to change their policies, because the companies depend on consumer support to exist. It is essential for USC and other universities to take such a stand on the issue of conflict minerals, because in order for violence in the Congo to come to an end, the income of the armed groups prolonging the conflict needs to be constrained.

In the modern world, in a time when mass atrocities cannot be ignored on the basis of lack of knowledge regarding those atrocities, informed actions can and must be taken in an effort to stop them. Ann Li, president of USC’s chapter of STAND, said:

“We believe that USC, as a university, and as embodied by our diverse student body, is becoming more socially conscious and globally aware. We hope that this ongoing trend informs recognition that we can and do have a role in stopping mass atrocities, even those happening on a different continent.”

To get involved with STAND at USC, contact them here.

 

Reach Senior Opinion Editor Cara Palmer here or follow her on Twitter.



 

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