Topic: 2023-Impact of Conflict Minerals
Delegate Name: Lee Gerring
Delegate: Lee Gerring
Topic: Impact of Conflict Minerals
Country: People’s Republic of China
School: Williamston High School
Conflict minerals are a very pressing issue when it comes to human rights and tensions within countries. Conflict minerals are specifically minerals that are extracted or extorted by armed groups, usually with the use of forced labor. The minerals mainly acquired like this include gold, columbite-tantalite, tungsten, and wolframite, and the vast majority of these being sourced from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These minerals are used worldwide to power devices like phones and computers making the system to obtain these minerals more demanding as the want for these technologies increases. Not only is the extraction of these minerals a major human rights violation on the people forced to extract them, but it is also causing major environmental damage, such as erosion, and causing major conflict with locals over ownership and control of the mining deposits being used. Previously, the UN had taken its ability to unanimously endorse the Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights in 2011. This obligated states to protect against human rights abuses within their territory, this would include the abuse of the people being forced into extracting these minerals.
China is no stranger to the issue of conflict minerals. As a part of China’s old Belt and Road Initiative, the country has major investments in mining infrastructure all over the world, especially in major places such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is already a major player in the mining of conflict minerals. For the economic prosperity of China, it was not up to their control how these minerals are extracted when being taken in foreign countries. However, after the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development’s 2017 Responsible Mineral Supply Chains Forum, the topic of protecting citizens against being forced into extracting these minerals, China has put in place certain precautions. China’s standard on conflict minerals has recently changed with its efforts to align it with the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development’s (OECD) Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas. China is now advancing its efforts to address conflict minerals by incorporating mineral guidance as a national standard, they also have created a new legally binding oversight and a supervising rule. The rule is expected to apply to ores and concentrates containing the ‘three T’s’: tin, tungsten and tantalum from the DRC and neighboring countries. The companies directly affected by the rule will be those importing, exporting, smelting and refining these three substances in China. Companies that are impacted by China’s regulations are much more upstream companies.
China already recognizes the extensive efforts previously made and currently still being made to help resolve the issue of conflict minerals. As of now, China is trying their best to work along with the OECD and following the rules and regulations put in place while still trying to keep the national sovereignty of each nation involved. China’s Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals has laid out extensive efforts and objectives they have. As stated in the Guidance “by providing guidance to all Chinese companies which are extracting and/or are using mineral resources and their related products and are engaged at any point in the supply chain of minerals to identify, prevent and mitigate their risks of contributing to conflict.” While China hopes to keep foreign policy out of their government, they still plan to improve upon their efforts and looks to countries like Pakistan and Russia as an ally for improvements, and hopes to find major improvements to regulation to be made to all countries having an issue such as conflict minerals.
“China Increases Focus on Conflict Minerals.” Assent, 27 Feb. 2022, www.assent.com/blog/china-increases-focus-on-conflict-minerals/.
Chinese Due Diligence Guidelines for Responsible Supply Chains and Mining – Global Witness, www.globalwitness.org/documents/18138/201512_Chinese_Due_Diligence_Guidelines_for_Responsible_Mineral_Supply_Chains_-_En_K83fxzt.pdf.