The House Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade hearing focused on the Democratic Republic of Congo, where violent militias often mine minerals found in many technological products in order to fund their operations, The Hill reports.
A late addition to the Dodd-Frank reform bill, the provision requires that companies determine whether any materials used in the production of their products were extracted from conflict-stricken areas, and if so, requires them to report to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The measure is part of a broader effort to end the resource curse — the tendency of areas rich in natural resources to have high incidences of corruption and violence.
Hearing participants attempted to find middle ground on a measure that seeks to limit human-rights abuses while noting the drawbacks of the provision.
“There is an atrocity occurring and nobody’s downplaying that, but does taxing American companies solve the problem in the [DRC]?” Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) said, according to The Hill. “I question that.”
The subcommittee also listened to testimony about the atrocities committed in the DRC.
“Nothing is going to come in and be the silver bullet that fixes it,” Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), a leading proponent of the provision, said, The Hill reports. “The question is…does our continuing to put money into the Congo feed the war?”
Though some witnesses agreed that the measure would ultimately discourage firms from investing in minerals from war-torn regions, they also argued that doing so would financially impact those miners who rely on the work rather than the militias.
Mvemba Dizolele, a Congolese visiting fellow at Stanford University, said that the militias will still be able to function even after a crackdown on minerals, adding that concerned parties should take greater steps to combat the violence.
“Our activism is lackluster and devoid of moral courage in the face of the unnecessary suffering of the Congolese,” Dizolele said, according to The Hill. “We hedge our action and refuse to see the reality before us by covering our faces like little children.”
Most Reverend Nicolas Djomo Lola, a Catholic bishop from the DRC, said through a translator that most Congolese are financially dependent on farming and that mines are a primary source of revenue for the militias.
“The mines ‘employ’ a much smaller portion of the population and their working conditions violate their basic, God-given human dignity,” Lola said, The Hill reports. “If we can sever the link between the mines and the militias, we believe that we can curtail the violence and allow people to rebuild their communities and resolve the underlying causes of their conflicts.”