Photo: Bert Kaufmann, Flickr

The European Union should develop strong legislative measures that require European companies to do due diligence on the minerals they use in their products. Such measures should have a broad geographical scope, apply to a broad range of minerals, and be in line with international due diligence standards.

These are some of the key points brought forward today by a coalition of NGOs as part of the European Commission’s consultation on responsible sourcing of minerals from conflict affected and high-risk areas.

Call by broad coalition of NGOs

The input for the consultation has been developed by a ‘core group’ of NGOs, consisting of SOMO, CCFD-Terre Solidaire, Christian Aid, EURAC, Global Witness, IKV Pax Christi, JESC and Justice et Paix. Furthermore, it is co-signed by a wide range of organisations working on topics including human rights, the environment, corporate accountability, international development and sustainability in electronics. This diversity of co-signees shows the importance of adequate steps by the EU to ensure that European companies are not linked to violent conflict or grave human rights abuses in other parts of the world.

Legislation necessary on responsible sourcing of minerals

In recent years, legislation aiming to break the links between natural resources and conflicts has been passed in several jurisdictions. The EU has not yet adopted a targeted policy, however. This coalition calls on the European Commission to develop risk-based legislation that is based on the due diligence framework developed by the OECD and the United Nations. This would provide European companies with a blueprint that allows them to source minerals responsibly and ensure they are not directly or indirectly linked to human rights violations.

Such due diligence requirements outline the steps that European companies should take to responsibly source their minerals. These requirements should apply to all minerals that have an effect on armed conflicts, regardless of where these conflicts take place. Furthermore, due diligence needs to be undertaken by companies that place minerals on the EU market, as well as by those selling end-products containing these minerals.

Upcoming position paper

The coalition intends to closely follow the EU initiative in the future. A common position paper, outlining the coalition’s viewpoints in more detail, will be published shortly.