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.

October 2014,

Signatories:

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

 

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