The trade in Congo’s conflict minerals – tin, tantalite, tungsten and gold, which are used in cell phones, computers, televisions, and many other electronic devices – is a major source of funding for armed groups in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo whose members commit atrocities against civilians. Clark is aware of the role that minerals found in consumer electronics products play in perpetuating the current humanitarian crisis in this region. The University is working on ways to monitor compliance of its partners in the technology industry to ensure they are keeping up with emerging industry standards to remedy this situation and others that arise in the future.
Clark is aware that “conflict-free” products do not currently exist, but initiatives that seek to improve control and transparency in the mining and refinement of conflict minerals are currently underway. Global organizations are working towards a standard code of conduct which should ultimately lead to a conflict-free certification process and products.
Many of Clark’s major electronic suppliers belong to the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), a global organization devoted to improving social and environmental conditions in electronics supply chains. The EICC requires its members to follow a Code of Conduct which provides guidance in five critical areas of corporate social responsibility performance – labor, health and safety, environment, management system and ethics. The EICC is also working with the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) to develop responsible mineral sourcing protocols.
Clark’s major technology suppliers, through their participation with the EICC, have indicated their interest in addressing the issue of conflict minerals. As these initiatives move forward, Clark is committed to supporting efforts by the EICC and others to address the problem of conflict minerals in supply chains.