Amnesty pushes for victims’ rights at OECD Minerals Forum

Amnesty International has urged zero tolerance for companies who continue to profit from human rights abuses in cobalt mines, ahead of the 12th Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains, which takes place in Paris between 17-20 April.  

In two major reports* Amnesty International has shown how the majority of companies sourcing cobalt from the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have likely contributed to or benefited from human rights abuses.

Former child labourers in the DRC don’t magically start thriving at school when companies cut their ties with exploitative mines.
Seema Joshi, Head of Business and Human Rights

“The fact that abuses persist years after the OECD put responsible sourcing guidelines in place raises the question of whether this Forum will be anything more than a talking shop for businesses. We are calling on states and companies alike to put human rights, not profit margins, at the heart of their discussions - this should be an opportunity to make real progress towards cleaning up the cobalt supply chain,” said Seema Joshi, Head of Business and Human Rights at Amnesty International.

“In particular, companies need to take concrete steps towards addressing the suffering of victims and providing effective reparations. Former child labourers in the DRC don’t magically start thriving at school when companies cut their ties with exploitative mines. Even if a company has stopped sourcing from high risk areas, it still has a responsibility to help people who have suffered past human rights abuses linked to its business to rebuild their lives.”

Ending human rights abuses in the diamond industry will also be a key part of the OECD agenda. Amnesty International and others have criticized the Kimberley Process, a 2003 diamond certification scheme established by the UN, for having too narrow a focus and letting companies off the hook.

For a full list of recommendations on the diamond industry see Behind the Shine: A Call to Action for the Jewellery Industry

*Exposed: Child labour behind smart phone and electric car batteries

*Industry giants fail to tackle child labour allegations in cobalt battery supply chains

In collaboration with Holoscribe, Amnesty International has created a 360 video experience that allows users to explore the inside of a cobalt mine in the DRC. View it here: https://360.amnesty.org/cobalt/index.html

Background

Amnesty International is calling on companies that have contributed to human rights abuses, at any point in their supply chains, to take action to remediate the harm suffered, in cooperation with other suppliers and national authorities.

In the DRC, urgent efforts are required to remove children from cobalt mining areas and put in place measures to address children’s health, physical, educational, economic and psychological needs.

Any miners who have been harmed should be given access to compensation or medical treatment, and those working in artisanal mines in unauthorized areas should be provided with technical support and health and safety training as a matter of urgency.