The days of women wearing mink or chinchilla coats as a statement of style and affluence have long disappeared. The idea of slaughtering cute little animals to provide stylish accessories seemed outrageous. More and more we have come to understand that what we buy reflects our values.
For many post-Holocaust Jews this meant not buying Mercedes or other German products. For many Americans it was the grape boycott of the late ’60′s and early 70′s for improved conditions of the field workers. A decade or two ago it was about athletic shoes made in third world countries and the working conditions for child laborers. And most recently it was “conflict diamonds” and the forced labor of citizens by despotic rebel leaders of certain African countries.
One would think that having a wealth of natural resources would be a national gift. But unfortunately, for many third-world countries it is a curse. It is motivation for rebel groups and despotic leaders to use forced labor (including children) to mine diamonds illegally and sell them both to fuel wars and for personal gain. Eventually signed into law in 2003, The Clean Diamond Trade Act created guidelines and oversight for ensuring that diamonds entering the United States are legally mined and traded.
The newest concern for human rights abuses in Africa are not just diamonds, but for many minerals found in our most popular products. Did you know:
Jewish World Watch, in its latest efforts against human rights abuses in Congo is asking American companies, and in particular synagogues, not purchase products that contain these minerals unless they are certified “conflict free.” Legislation has just been passed that will make it easier to certify that products include conflict free minerals. For more information about conflict free minerals go to the Jewish World Watch website http://www.jewishworldwatch.org/takeaction/congo/conflict-minerals-campaign