The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development passed new guidance for companies involved in the so-called “conflict minerals” trade in countries like Democratic Republic of Congo, Bloomberg reported.
The guidance offers a non-binding code of conduct that more than 40 countries have agreed to promote, the Paris-based organization said in an e-mailed statement. The new rules will clarify how companies can work in conflict zones by managing risks in their supply chains, Lahra Liberti, OECD adviser on international law, said: “The guidance is designed to foster private sector engagement in sustainable sourcing practices that nurture revenue-generating trade in clean minerals.” The OECD passed the guidance on 25 May, along with new human rights guidelines that address environmental and labour standards, bribery and extortion, the OECD statement said. The organization will also put in place a “tougher process” to mediate complaints against companies who are suspected of violating the guidelines.
“We’ll see how these principals are implemented on the ground, but the fear is that they will cause companies not to come to Congo because the guidelines can’t be enforced 100% in post-conflict zones,” Emmanuel Ndimubanzi, head of the Mines Division in eastern Congo’s North Kivu province, said. However a boycott of Central African minerals would be “an unhappy outcome” that the organization is trying to avoid, Liberti responded. The guidance incorporates “the flexibility to allow trade to continue,” while promoting responsible sourcing of minerals, she said. Some companies involved in the mineral trade in Central Africa have already agreed to implement the guidance, Liberti said.