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(Nov 26/12) I would like bring to your attention a unique opportunity for McMaster University to play a powerful role in helping end the violence in eastern Congo. By passing a resolution regarding the use of Congo’s conflict minerals in consumer electronics, McMaster would join Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Colorado, Clark University, and several others to become a leading university in support of conflict-free, sending a powerful message to electronics companies to clean up their supply chains to ensure their products are not fueling the deadliest conflict since World War II. Gold, tin, tungsten, and tantalum sourced from Congo’s mines can be found in the consumer electronics products we use every day, such as computers, cell phones, and MP3 players. This makes these minerals central to the technology that drives our business and communications infrastructure, our social engagement, and national security. Armed groups operating in eastern Congo earn hundreds of millions of dollars each year from this minerals trade and control most of the mining operations in mafia-like cartels, utilizing systematic rape and torture to destroy the social fabric of communities. Nearly six million lives have been lost from the consequences of the ongoing violence and hundreds of thousands of women raped. While comprehensive action is needed for Congo, it is only by removing the economic incentive to wage war that we can end the conflict, making it critically important to focus our influence on ending the trade in conflict minerals. The direct link between war in Congo and the consumer products we use every day gives our University enormous power to demand change from electronics companies. By issuing a resolution supporting the conflict-free movement, McMaster would amplify and strengthen efforts underway at the federal, provincial, city, and university levels calling for companies to trace, audit, and certify their supply chains to ensure their products do not support a minerals trade that is benefiting militia groups. I am requesting that the McMaster University Libraries make a conscientious decision to purchase electronics from companies who ensure that their suppliers are Conflict Mineral Free. Intel and HP have the best track record. (see link below for details) http://www.raisehopeforcongo.org/companyrankings Thank you for your time and consideration. The victims of this terrible war most definitely appreciate it. -Bianca Caramento

Library response: Thank you for bringing this issue to our attention. I consulted the company rankings, and I'm happy to report that we purchase the bulk of our equipment from vendors classified as green, but the ratings will be good to have on hand for future purchases. (Nov 26/12)
Answered by: Dale Askey (Associate University Librarian, Library Learning Technologies)