This could become an important day in the history of the modern abolition movement. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is set to vote on new rules to require companies to investigate their supply chains and disclose if their products contain minerals from conflict areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) or surrounding areas.
It could mark a milestone in corporate supply chain transparency. That’s because so-called “conflict minerals” from Congo are often mined by slaves. Free the Slaves has conducted groundbreaking research to document the Congo connection to slavery.
Attention policy wonks: today’s SEC meeting will be streamed live beginning at 10 a.m. EST.
It’s unclear just how stringent the new rules may be, and how quickly they might take effect. Free the Slaves and our colleagues in the human rights movement will be evaluating the SEC decision after it is announced.
It’s important to remember that today’s SEC vote is just a first step in ensuring that all products sold by American companies are slavery-free. Corporate transparency on conflict minerals from Congo can address slavery in electronic products. That’s because the minerals involved – tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold – are commonly used in electronic devices.
But there are many other common products, from clothing to chocolate to cars and beyond—that are often made with slavery-tainted raw materials. Efforts will continue in Congress for a comprehensive solution that builds on the progress made with Congo conflict minerals.