Delegate Name: Benjamin Pease
Committee: Special Political Committee
Topic A: Impact of Conflict Minerals
Name: Benjamin Pease
School: Forest Hills Northern High School
Millions of people worldwide are affected by mining conflict minerals, which are mostly tungsten, tantalum, tin, gold, and cobalt. These minerals are widely distributed and utilized worldwide in many products, especially consumer electronics, which use such metals in circuit boards and other components. Conflict minerals are often extracted or extorted by armed groups, often through forced labor. They are also tied to environmental damage through erosion and pollution from mining. However, many people in the states where conflicted minerals are extracted rely on the industry to make a living. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the World Bank estimates that 10 million Congolese depend on artisanal mining to support their livelihoods.
In 2011, the United Nations addressed the growing issue of conflict mineral extraction by creating the Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, which provided a framework for enhancing business and human rights standards and practices. Along with the UN, the Organisation of Economic Co-Operation and Development has also issued guidance on sourcing conflict minerals responsibility. Along with international institutions, states and regional bodies have created domestic guidelines for utilizing conflict minerals, such as the United States with legislation in the Dodd-Frank Act and the European Union’s Conflict Minerals Regulation. Most of these regulations aim to promote the ethical sourcing of conflict minerals to ensure that the sources of the minerals are not violating human rights. Many individual companies have also created guidelines about utilizing conflict minerals; however, they often, out of necessity, continue sourcing their conflict minerals from unverified mines and refineries.
Because of Ukraine’s vast mineral deposits, it also understands the importance of minerals to a national economy. Ukraine does not directly deal with conflict minerals; however, like every country, it still utilizes the many products that contain conflict minerals. Previously, it has agreed to the regulations laid out in the Guiding Principles and has ambitions to join the OECD and European Union, conforming to the rules set out by both organizations.
Nonetheless, it acknowledges the large-scale impact the industry can have on human rights. It understands the importance of mineral extraction for both local and national economies. It advises the UN to continue to advocate for more regional regulations, as seen with the European Union and the United States, to ensure that nobody furthers the human rights violations resulting from doing business with unverified suppliers. These more focused regulations could enforce supply chain transparency, requiring companies to disclose the origin of the minerals they use, or it could include a certification system that would involve implementing due diligence measures to ensure that minerals entering the market are conflict-free. It also proposes that the UN create an initiative to increase public awareness and educate consumers worldwide about the impact of conflict minerals. Naturally, this would help create demand for products free from conflict minerals and pressure companies to ensure responsible mineral supply chains.
European Commission. “Conflict Minerals Regulation: The Regulation Explained.” Trade, 2021, policy.trade.ec.europa.eu/development-and-sustainability/conflict-minerals-regulation/regulation-explained_en.
OECD. “OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas – OECD.” Www.oecd.org, 2016, www.oecd.org/corporate/mne/mining.htm.
World Bank. PROJECT INFORMATION DOCUMENT (PID) CONCEPT STAGE. 24 Mar. 2009, documents1.worldbank.org/curated/en/341011468234300132/pdf/Project0Inform1cument1Concept0Stage.pdf. Accessed 20 Nov. 2023.