Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero Travels to the Democratic Republic of Congo
Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs María Otero visited the Democratic Republic of Congo from October 4 to 6 to meet with senior Congolese officials, civil society representatives, members of the private sector, youth leaders, and officials from international organizations. Her trip included stops in Bukavu and Kinshasa.
Throughout her trip, Under Secretary Otero focused on U.S. efforts to support Congo’s upcoming elections. Following meetings with Congolese officials, she noted, “despite the challenges that many Congolese face on a daily basis, they are committed to securing a peaceful and democratic future for their country.” She also met with youth leaders and urged all Congolese stakeholders to support peaceful, credible, and fair elections in November.
Under Secretary Otero also engaged on a range of human rights issues. She discussed key steps needed to end the use and recruitment of child soldiers and to combat sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). While in Bukavu, she toured Panzi Hospital and met with USAID and State Department implementing partners who together provide an integrated response to the cycle of SGBV.
In both South Kivu and Kinshasa, Under Secretary Otero emphasized the United States’ ongoing support for the Congolese government as they break the link between the minerals trade and armed groups. To strengthen these efforts, she announced a Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade (PPA) to support the development of pilot verifiable, conflict-free minerals supply chain systems. The PPA is a joint effort of the U.S. government, private sector companies and trade associations, civil society, and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). Additional details on the PPA can be found in the accompanying fact sheet.
As Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs, Maria Otero oversees and coordinates U.S. foreign relations on issues of civilian security including population, refugees, and migration; democracy, human rights, and labor; counternarcotics and law enforcement; conflict prevention and response; monitoring and combating trafficking in persons; and global youth issues. She also serves as the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues.
The Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade (PPA)
In its efforts to help the Democratic Republic of Congo break the link between the minerals trade and armed groups, the U.S. government is working both with Congolese partners to improve the situation on the ground and with the private sector and civil society to ensure that market pressures encourage responsible trade in minerals. The Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade (PPA) is part of these ongoing U.S. efforts and will formally launch in November 2011 in Washington, DC.
The PPA aims to combine the financial and technical resources of governments, companies, trade associations, civil society, and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) in support of three goals. First, it will assist with the development of pilot supply chain systems that will allow businesses to source minerals from mines that have been audited and certified to be ‘conflict-free.’ Second, it will provide a platform for coordination amongst government, industry, and civil society actors seeking to support conflict-free sourcing from the DRC. Finally, the PPA will establish a website designed to serve as a resource for companies seeking information regarding how to responsibly source minerals from the DRC.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) plans to invest approximately $3.2 million in the work of the PPA, specifically to support conflict-free minerals certification and traceability. Our goal is for companies and industry associations to invest $2 million or more in funding by the end of 2012; over $700,000 toward this goal has been pledged thus far The following companies, trade associations, and organizations have already expressed their intention to join in the PPA, with final participation of these and other potential participants subject to the due diligence processes of the U.S. government and other members and approval of a Memorandum of Understanding by all participants.
1. Advanced Micro Devices
2. Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC)
3. Enough Project
4. Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI)
5. H.C. Starck
7. International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR)
9. ITRI on behalf of the iTSCi project
10. Jewish World Watch
11. Motorola Solutions, Inc.
14. Partnership Africa Canada / Partenariat Afrique Canada
15. Responsible Sourcing Network
16. Sony Corporation
19. Toshiba Corporation
20. Verizon Communications
21. World Gold Council