The Pittsburgh Human Rights Network, along with the Center for International Legal Education at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, will be hosting a one-day conference on conflict minerals, consumer activism, and the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo entitled Conflict Free Pittsburgh on Saturday, November 19th, 2011, at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
Conflict Free Pittsburgh is open to all students in the Pittsburgh area and is dedicated to raising awareness of the civil conflict in Congo. This war has lasted over a decade and claimed over five million lives, making it the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II. At the heart of the issue are tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold, minerals which are mined in eastern Congo and that eventually find their way into our everyday electronics. Profits from the sale of these minerals are used by armed groups to brutally oppress local populations in efforts to maintain control over resources. Conflict minerals connect consumer decisions in developed countries to violence halfway across the world, sparking a growing consumer movement in recent years to demand accountability from electronics companies who trace back their supply chains to mines in eastern Congo.
Universities, as major contract holders with electronics providers, play a major role in the conflict-free movement. Students across the country have raised their voice to work with their schools to send the message to electronics companies that they are cognizant of the atrocities being committed in Congo and their connection to the violence. The movement covers more than sixty campuses nationwide and is continually growing. Many universities, including Stanford University the University of Pennsylvania and the Ohio University Honors Tutorial College have released official statements voicing their solidarity with the people of Congo and their resolution to do what they can to bring peace to the region.
Conflict Free Pittsburgh aims to educate Pittsburgh’s college students using their leverage as the end users of electronics to raise their voice to ensure that their products are not fueling the conflict, and in this way to help bring about peace in the Congo. The day will include workshops and a panel by members of the academic, advocacy, and student community who are active on the issue in Pittsburgh. Speakers include Alexandra Hellmuth, Student and Youth Coordinator for the Enough Project; Rebecca Cech, co-founder of Congo Story; D. Wes Rist, from the Center for International Legal Education at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law; and Dr. Annamore Matambanadzo, from the University of Pittsburgh.