In the New York Times this month, Congo analyst David Aronson blamed Congress for “devastating Congo” with the conflict-minerals provisions passed as a part of the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act. But Congolese organizations on the ground have rallied in support of the Dodd-Frank legislation, and companies such as Motorola have already begun the process to source responsibly from Congo. Much more needs to be done to protect the people on the ground in Congo and provide for alternative livelihoods, but Dodd-Frank is NOT the problem.
The JWW response, submitted to the New York Times on August 10, 2011, is below.
Letter to the Editor
Submitted to the New York Times by Janice Kamenir-Reznik and Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis
August 10, 2011
Regarding David Aronson’s “How Congress Devastated Congo” (8-8-11), blaming Dodd-Frank for the lack of the mining communities’ access to commodities or deprivation of a living wage ignores Congo’s root problem: the lack of infrastructure and security which created an illegal mining sector. Mining communities have suffered decades of exploitation by armed groups, their “livelihoods” based on insecurity, instability and gross human rights violations.
Aronson’s assertion that Congolese civil society is opposed to the legislation is false. 50 Congolese organizations signed a letter last May to Secretary Clinton demanding the full and timely implementation of Dodd-Frank. Civil society organizations in Goma have formed a coalition in support of transparency and traceability in the minerals sector–the exact practice which Aronson attacks.
Aronson wrongly states that all companies are abandoning Congo. Consumer pressure has mounted on industry officials; Motorola recently launched its Solutions for Hope initiative, responsibly sourcing tantalum from Congo. While much more still needs to be done, Dodd-Frank is NOT the problem.
Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis & Janice Kamenir-Reznik, co-founders, Jewish World Watch, a grassroots mobilizing initiative to fight genocide and mass atrocities.