Press release by Alex Atamanenko
OTTAWA – New Democrats introduced a bill and launched a campaign to end the use of conflict minerals which have been financing the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“The conflict minerals that end up in many products like cell phones and game consoles are responsible for funding and fueling a war that has killed more than five million people in the Congo,” said New Democrat Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar, who introduced the bill in Parliament. “I was in the Congo four years ago at Easter. I know that the Congo seems as far away from Canada as you can be, but we have the power here in Canada to cut off the funds that sustain this devastating war.”
The war in the Congo is the deadliest conflict since World War II. Sexual violence is widely used as a strategy and a weapon of war. International experts agree that cutting off the financial resources that sustain the war is the most significant step in building peace in the region.
Dewar’s bill gives Canadian companies mechanisms to ensure that minerals used in their products have not benefited armed groups engaged in atrocities. It will enshrine due diligence guidelines developed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development into national law – the first time that an OECD member has done so. The bill was developed through a series of consultations with civil society and industry representatives in Canada and abroad.
According to Atamanenko, this is an important piece of legislation that will make Canada a leader in fighting conflict minerals. “One only has to read the book, Damned Nations by Samantha Nutt, founder of War Child, to realize how the Congo’s resource wealth fuels violence both within the country and is the sources of funding for much of the country’s conflict with its Neighbours. I congratulate and thank Paul Dewar for taking this timely and important initiative,” concluded the BC Southern Interior MP.