September 16, 2019
 In 2023-Impact of Conflict Minerals

Country: Japan
Delegate Name: Goni Wong

Conflict Minerals and the human rights abuses that brutal warlords facilitate for the extraction of rare earth minerals must cease to exist. In the Great Lakes region, a known hotbed for these practices sourcing conflict minerals, there have been upwards of 5.4 million civilian deaths. Additionally In 2014, UNICEF reported that about 40,000 children worked in mines in the south of the Democratic Republic of Congo, with this figure having likely increased significantly since 2014. Of the 800,000 people that are able to flee this war torn area, many find themselves in poor living conditions or refugee camps. The circumstances that allow for these violations of human rights, especially in the Great Lakes region, are not circumstantial by any means. As warlords exploit the extraction of these minerals, they also control the smuggling routes across borders, most notably those of the DRC, Uganda and Rwanda. These are then given to intermediaries who turn a blind eye to the legality of their trade as long as they make profit. It ends up being smelted down with other legally extracted minerals in Asian, North American and European nations, rendering them virtually untraceable. Finally it is bought by large companies in a host of nations to be processed and distributed to consumers across the globe. The cycle that facilitates the murder, rape and forced labor of civilians across the Democratic Republic of Congo and neighboring countries can be broken. This terrible and unending cycle of violence can be stopped at many points in the process, where if you were to render one area of this sequence of transactions useless, you could bring about the demise of the system as a whole.

This being said, United Nations involvement on this issue has had minimal efficiency and we require new solutions to address this tragic crisis.

Japan understands the human rights abuses that occur as a result of conflict minerals, and firmly believes they must be addressed. Japan has ratified and adopted many international conventions on Child Labor laws and has begun to implement regulations against the use of conflict minerals within Japan. As a leader in modern production of sustainable practices and devices, Japan looks for innovative solutions that not only address the humanitarian crisis in the Great Lakes region, but the issue of climate change as well. As our world comes ever closer to climate disaster, many countries including the island nation of Japan must effectively combat the multitude of challenges that arise from a warming climate, rising sea levels, and more severe natural disasters. To reach carbon neutrality and increase the use of sustainable devices, many of the minerals mined in the Great Lakes region, such as cobalt, gold, Titanium, Tin and Tungsten must be more widely available to companies and nations. Solutions that Japanese companies have pioneered are a method for separating high-purity cobalt from old lithium-ion batteries. The plan is to use the recycled mineral in new EV batteries, this would reduce the reliance on conflict minerals. Additionally Japan unconditionally supports any forms of humanitarian aid to assist displaced individuals and combat sexual violence, killing and child labor within afflicted areas.

In conclusion, minerals that support the development of technologies that contribute to sustainability and climate neutrality must be sourced responsibly, adhering to ethical and sustainable guidelines that are outlined in the UN charter and adjacent institutions.