More than 70 Catholics bishops have signed the statement we reproduce here calling the EU to reinforce the supply chain due diligence in order to stop the complicity of transnational companies in funding conflicts.
We need supply chain due diligence to stop complicity in funding conflicts
Companies are selling products containing natural resources that fuel violence and suffering.
We, Catholic leaders throughout the world, call on the EU to put an end to this.
As images and stories of horrors inflicted on vulnerable children, women and men in conflicts around the world strike us daily, citizens are expecting guarantees that they are not complicit. The indifference of a few, who look away from their part of responsibility for other peoples’ pain, threatens our shared human dignity. To stop this, new rules are urgently needed to ensure that the bounty of God’s creation does not serve unquestioning consumption while underwriting the destruction of life. The Earth’s resources must be managed wisely by good stewards, with assurances for people at both ends of today’s global supply chains that join us as to the morality of our trading system.
In certain Southern countries and especially those rich in resources (minerals, wood, gas, oil …), the control, extraction, processing and trade of these resources are financing armed groups and security and military forces who commit serious violations of human rights, rather than contributing to human development. Everywhere in her power, the Church is at the side of the poor, working to protect those suffering from violence and to dialogue with those who can help end abuses.
As a major world trading power, the EU imports a significant amount of raw materials from regions affected by conflict. Through their supply chains, some European companies are complicit in abuses. This situation is intolerable. States are surely required to make every effort to ensure the conditions for peace, not only in their own territory but around the world. This is certainly the social teaching of the Catholic Church. Governments, citizens and businesswomen and men in the European Union must therefore take it upon themselves to ensure that their companies source natural resources responsibly.
We welcome the fact that the European Commission has proposed a draft European regulation based on “a strategy for responsible trade in minerals from conflict zones […] intended to put an end to the use of revenues from mining to finance armed conflict” in March 2014.
We are encouraged by the progress made as a result of Members of the European Parliament championing payment transparency in the extractive industries in 2013. It is now time to continue on this positive path, with ambitious and binding rules to promote supply chain due diligence by companies concerning natural resources sourced from high-risk or conflict-affected areas.
Section 1502 of the U.S. Dodd Frank Act adopted in 2010 represents a milestone. Companies listed on U.S. stock markets must now undertake supply chain due diligence to check whether minerals in their products contributed to funding armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its nine neighbouring countries. The European Commission’s proposed regulation extends its scope to all areas of conflict and high risk in the world. This is an important and welcome development, showing the potential to continue to improve upon approaches.
We believe this European regulation will succeed in bringing tangible change to suffering communities, if it can be further strengthened in a few critical ways:
Consistency in the range of natural resources covered. In Peru, Zimbabwe, Myanmar and beyond, the suffering of people from human rights abuses and violence inflicted by armed groups and security and military forces controlling copper, diamonds and other precious resources is no different from situations related to tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold.
Shared responsibility by companies along the entire supply chain, from extractive companies to importers, suppliers and end-users that trade products containing natural resources. Including end-user companies in the scope will allow European citizens to bring positive influence to bear in setting the conditions for morality in supply chains. Their expressions of solidarity and empathy with people in situations of desperate violence will not be betrayed.
A mandatory due diligence system that follows best practices of the related OECD guidance, for undertaking and publicly reporting on efforts to source responsibly. As many of us are first-hand witnesses to the powerful dynamics in regions affected by conflict, having engaged in dialogue with all involved, we can assure that nothing less will be able to change the behaviour of companies and other actors.
We, bishops and leaders of the Catholic Church, lend our support to civil society in the South and North working for peace and the responsible stewardship of creation. The EU has a unique opportunity to help end violent conflicts connected to natural resources, which have represented 40% of all conflicts globally over the last 60 years. We call on European Parliamentarians and European governments to rise up to this challenge.
Ludwig SCHWARZ, Bishop of Linz, Austria
Aloysius JOUSTEN, Bishop Emeritus of Liège, Belgium
André-Joseph LÉONARD, Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussel, Belgium
Lucas VAN LOOY, Bishop of Gent, Belgium
Pierre WARIN, Auxiliary Bishop of Namur, Belgium
Luis Morgan CASEY, Bishop Emeritus of Mibiarca, Bolivia
José Luís AZCONA HERMOSO, Bishop of Marajó Para, Brazil
Luciano BERGAMIN, Bishop of Nova Iguaçu (Rio de Janeiro), Brazil
Antônio BRAZ BENEVENTE, Bishop of Jacarezinho (Parana), Brazil
Luís Flávio CAPPIO, Bishop of Barra (do Rio Grande), Brazil
Pedro CASALDÁLIGA PLÁ, Bishop Emeritus of São Felix do Araguaia, Brazil
Adriano CIOCCA VASINO, Bishop of São Felix do Araguaia, Brazil
Antônio Carlos CRUZ SANTOS, Bishop of Caicó (Rio Grande do Norte), Brazil
José Belisário DA SILVA, Archbishop of São Luís do Maranhão, Brazil
Plínio José Luz DA SILVA, Bishop of Picos (Piaui), Brazil
Severino Batista DE FRANÇA, Bishop of Nazaré (Pernambuco), Brazil
Jeremias Antônio DE JESUS, Bishop of Guanhães (Minas Gerais), Brazil
Zeno HASTENTEUFEL, Bishop of Novo Hamburgo (Rio Grande do Sul), Brazil
Cláudio Aury Affonso HUMMES, Cardinal of Sant’Antonio da Padova in Via Merulana, Brazil
Erwin KRÄUTLER, Bishop of Xingu, Brazil
Gabriel MARCHESI, Bishop of Floresta (Pernambuco), Brazil
Ailton MENEGUSSI, Bishop of Crateús (Ceara), Brazil
José Alberto MOURA, Archbishop of Montes Claros (Minas Gerais), Brazil
Giovane PEREIRA DE MELO, Bishop of Tocantinópolis (Tocatins), Brazil
Wilmar SANTIN, Bishop of Itaituba (Para), Brazil
Moacir SILVA, Archbishop of Ribeirão Preto (Sao Paulo), Brazil
Serafino Faustino SPREAFICO, Bishop Emeritus of Grajaú (Maranho), Brazil
José Mário STROEHER, Bishop of Rio Grande (Rio Grande do Sul), Brazil
Alberto TAVEIRA CORRÊA, Archbishop of Belém do Pará, Brazil
Itamar Navildo VIAN, Archbishop of Feira de Santana (Bahia), Brazil
Guilherme Antônio WERLANG, Bishop of Ipameri (Goias), Brazil
André de WITTE, Bishop of Ruy Barbosa (Bahia), Brazil
Sébastien MONGO BEHON, Secretary General of the National Episcopal Conference, Cameroon
Antoine NTALOU, Archbishop of Garoua, Cameroon
Miguel Angel SEBASTIÁN MARTÍNEZ, Bishop of Laï, Chad
Luigi INFANTI De la MORA, Bishop of Cartennae, Chile
Gaspar Francisco QUINTANA JORQUERA, Bishop Emeritus of Copiapó, Chile
José FIGUEROA GÓMEZ, Bishop of Granada, Colombia
Julio Hernando GARCÍA PELÁEZ, Bishop of Istmina-Tadó, Colombia
José Roberto OSPINA LEONGÓMEZ, Bishop of Buga, Colombia
Luis José RUEDA APARICIO, Bishop of Montelibano, Colombia
François-Xavier MAROY RUSENGO, Archbishop of Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Jacques André BLAQUART, Bishop of Orléans, France
Stanislas LALANNE, Bishop of Pontoise, France
Johannes KREIDLER, Auxiliary Bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, Germany
Alvaro Leonel RAMAZZINI IMERI, Bishop of Huehuetenango, Guatemala
Bernabé de Jesús SAGASTUME LEMUS, Bishop of Santa Rosa de Lima, Guatemala
Guy CHARBONNEAU, Bishop of Choluteca, Honduras
Ángel GARACHANA PÉREZ, Bishop of San Pedro Sula, Honduras
Niranjan Sual SINGH, Bishop of Sambalpur, India
William CREAN, Bishop of Cloyne, Ireland
Charles Maung BO, Archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar
Philip Lasap ZA HAWNG, Bishop of Lashio, Myanmar
Michel Christian CARTATEGUY, Archbishop of Niamey, Niger
Mario Melanio MEDINA SALINAS, Bishop of San Juan Bautista de las Misiones, Paraguay
Pedro Ricardo BARRETO JIMENO, Archbishop of Huancayo, Peru
Guillermo Dela Vega AFABLE, Bishop of Digos, Philippines
Gerardo Alimane ALMINAZA, Bishop of San Carlos, Philippines
Romulo Tolentino DE LA CRUZ, Archbishop of Zamboanga, Philippines
Dinualdo GUTIERREZ, Bishop of Marbel, Philippines
Antonio Javellana LEDESMA, Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro, Philippines
Broderick Soncuaco PABILLO, Auxiliary Bishop of Manila, Philippines
Rolando Joven TRIA TIRONA, Archbishop of Caceres (Nueva Caceres), Philippines
Reynaldo Gonda EVANGELISTA, Bishop of Imus, Philippines
Crispin Barrete VARQUEZ, Bishop of Borongan, Philippines
Miguel Ángel OLAVERRI ARRONIZ, Bishop of Pointe-Noire, Republic of the Congo
Stephen BRISLIN, Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa
Felix GMÜR, Bishop of Basel, Switzerland
Joseph Pibul VISITNONDACHAI, Bishop of Nakhon Sawan, Thailand
Peter Antony MORAN, Bishop Emeritus of Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Alexio Churu MUCHABAIWA, Bishop of Mutare, Zimbabwe
Patrick Mumbure MUTUME, Auxiliary Bishop of Mutare, Zimbabwe
This call is supported by the international alliance of Catholic development agencies CIDSE