I woke up to fantastic news this morning. After a long night of compromise, at about 5:00 am this morning, Representatives and Senators participating in the Wall Street Reform conference agreed to an important amendment that will have a long-lasting, and positive, impact on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The amendment will address the devastating trade in certain minerals coming from the DRC, minerals that end up fueling armed groups responsible for human rights abuses in the DRC.
Ever since the introduction of the Conflict Minerals Trade Act (H.R. 4128) in November 2009, many of you have worked alongside us to help us ensure that Congress takes action to stop the trade in conflict minerals. A few months ago, over 20,000 of you asked your Representatives to co-sponsor H.R. 4128. And just a few days ago, you took action again, this time to ensure conferees wouldn’t strike important language from the conflict minerals amendment.
Until the very last hour of negotiations last night, conferees were being pressured to strike provisions in the amendment that require independent auditing of the minerals supply chains and penalties for those who would source minerals that contribute to human rights violations – provisions which are absolutely necessary for this legislation to work in the way we want it to.
But despite these obstacles, the outpouring of activism from AI members and activists helped secure this huge victory for human rights in the DRC. We couldn’t have done this without you.
Of course, the fight doesn’t end here. The Wall Street Reform bill still needs to be voted on the floor. And there’s no shortage of other issues to be tackled in the DRC: the harassment of and violence against human rights defenders, widespread violence against women, the pending withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping mission … the list goes on. But what this victory shows is that we can have an impact if we speak up.