Supermodels and Blood Diamonds


"Tucked into Dodd-Frank is a mandate for U.S. firms to disclose mineral sources."

How does a supermodel become a witness at an international tribunal? In 1997, former Liberian President Charles Taylor, who is charged with crimes against humanity including murder, sexual slavery and violence and enslavement, allegedly gave Campbell the gift of a blood diamond stones used to fund civil wars and other conflicts. Prosecutors seek her testimony to establish the timing of Taylor's possession of Sierra Leone diamonds, which he allegedly exchanged for weapons that armed Sierra Leonean rebels including teenagers and children drugged and forced to fight who used them in brutal attacks against civilians.

The case against Taylor underscores the point that perpetrators of atrocities don't act alone. . .in the Democratic Republic of Congo, armed groups that murder and rape civilians trade minerals like gold, tungsten and tantalum taken from mines they control for weapons, money and other resources. Some of these minerals end up in U.S. cell phones and computers.

Recently, Steve Jobs wrote: "We require all our suppliers to certify in writing they use conflict [free] materials. But honestly there's no way. . .to be sure. Until someone invents a way to chemically trace minerals from the source mine, it's a very difficult problem."

Conflict minerals do present a difficult problem. But we don't have to wait for a new chemical invention to begin to solve it.

The U.S. has taken another approach. Tucked into the Wall Street reform bill signed last month is a provision requiring U.S. companies to submit an annual report to the SEC disclosing whether their products contain minerals from Congo or neighboring countries. Companies will also be required to report on their efforts to exclude conflict minerals from supply chains.

The intelligence community must also allocate resources to gather and analyze intelligence on third-party enablers so policymakers can disrupt supply chains.

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