Tuesday, December 27, 2011

1502: A Better Way

Two civil society organizations in eastern Congo have written the SEC to propose a better way of implementing Section 1502 of Dodd-Frank law. The two groups, Observatoire Gouvernance et Paix (OGP), led by Eric Kajemba, and Bureau d'Etudes Scientifiques et Techniques (BEST), led by Pere Didier de Failly, submitted their letter on December 26.

Briefly, they argue that the problem with the legislation as it now stands is that there are no mechanisms  in place to determine which minerals are "conflict-free." As a result, companies had little choice but to instruct smelters to stop accepting mineral shipments from the region. A better way to harness some of the benefits of 1502 is to put the mechanisms in place first, so that the legitimate mineral trade has a chance to grow and gradually crowd out the illegal trade.

In their letter, they:
(i) describe the current impact of § 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act on mining communities in eastern DRC;
(ii) outline the mechanisms necessary for the traceability and due diligence of conflict minerals;
(iii) recommend a phased approach for implementing § 1502; and
(iv) encourage the Commission to undertake a more comprehensive cost-benefit analysis before promulgating its final rule, in part by studying the law’s impact on local communities.

I think their proposal is a far more thoughtful way of proceeding. It is in keeping with the consensus of informed local opinion. It harnesses the potential benefits of 1502 without accelerating the harm it has caused.

I suspect that the perspective of two little ngos in eastern Congo won't count for all that much in the SEC's deliberation, but one can always hope. If you believe it represents a wiser course, please write a letter of support to the SEC at this address.

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