Conflict Minerals Event Sparks Discussion

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

By Rachel Dyck

Photo Credit: Juil Yoon

According to, “Congo is home to the deadliest conflict since World War II.” Millions of people have lost their homes, and millions have lost their lives.
The conflict may seem far away from Canada, but the truth is that people all around the world carry pieces of it around every day.
Electronic devices such as cell phones and laptops contain metals including gold, tantalum, tin and tungsten. These resources come from ores that are mined in different parts of the world, one of which is the Democratic Republic of Congo. And although only 1% or less of most of these minerals comes from the country, the turmoil surrounding their extraction and distribution is devastating.

Panelists sitting at a table.

On Thursday November 7, this issue was brought to the attention of the University of Waterloo at the screening of a film called “Blood in the Mobile” followed by panel discussion. Panelists included Peace and Conflict Studies Professor Nathan Funk, Dr. Steven Young of UW’s School of Environment, Enterprise and Development, Sustainability Management M.E.S. candidate Chris Burke and NDP MP Paul Dewar.
As the Foreign Affairs Critic in the Shadow Cabinet at the House of Commons, MP Dewar has had the opportunity to observe global conflict and traveled to the Congo four years ago. He has proposed a piece of legislation called “The Conflict Minerals Act,” or Bill C-486, which would force the government and large corporations to buy fairly and not support violent militias controlling much of the industry. 
The panel discussion focused on questions posed by students regarding why the conflict exists and what can be done to change the situation. While they emphasized the complexity of the situation, the panelists were hopeful in discussing potential solutions to the problem.
This event was presented by Just Minerals KW with support from UW Engineers without Borders, WPIRG, STAND, Conflict-Free UW, and Kitchener-Centre NDP. If you are interested in getting involved with making UW conflict free, check out the CFUW facebook page
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