Glasgow University’s Conflict-Free Campus Initiative (CFCI)

October 20, 2013 in cfci, main by Ruth

At our meeting on Tuesday 15th October we looked at our conflict minerals campaign that we ran last year, and are continuing this year. ‘Conflict minerals’, namely Gold, Tin, Tantalum and Tungsten, form the direct the link between the technologies that we use every day, including mobile phones, laptops, and cameras, and one of the worst conflicts in the world right now. Our electronic goods need these minerals to function but at the moment they come with the cost of human lives.

The CFCI is a global student movement that takes a consumer-directed approach to demanding an end to this conflict. It focuses on the Democratic Republic of Congo where some of the most grave human rights abuses are taking place throughout the process of mineral extraction under the control of armed rebel groups. These armed groups operate by locating a mineral rich area, forcing the people off the land to build a mine and setting up boundaries to control access in and out, as well as fighting for control of pre-existing mines. Once control of a mine has been established, the local people can be forced to work in the mines for as little as $2 a day or nothing at all. These armed rebels often set such high taxes for anyone wanting to leave the mining area that it prevents people from escaping and effectively keeps them hostage.

This conflict has been ongoing for over two decades, during which time over 6 million people have been killed, hundreds of thousands of women have been raped, children have been recruited as child soldiers as well as being forced to work in the mines and local communities have been used as slave labour and terrorised by armed groups who are making an estimated $144 million each year in the trade of conflict minerals.

As part of Enough Project’s ‘Raise Hope for Congo’ campaign, the CFCI aims are to raise awareness of these atrocities on campus and demand that our universities amend their investment and procurement policies to prioritise companies that are taking steps towards a ‘trace-audit-certify’ system to ensure that the minerals used to make their electronic goods are not coming from conflict areas.

You can look through the presentation to see what we discussed and watch friends of the Congo’s documentary ‘Crisis in the Congo: Uncovering the Truth’ which we showed at the meeting.

Last year we got the SRC to pass a motion, made our own campaign video for a Conflict-Free Glasgow University and started a petition to David Newall and Anton Muscatelli, requesting a change in procurement and investment policy. We also contacted various MSPs to support the campaign, resulting in a Motion being launched in the Scottish Parliament by Patrick Harvie MSP who also came on campus to be interviewed about this movement.

At the end of the meeting, members wrote letters to David Newall to ask that he continues to work with us to pass a resolution in support of the CFCI at the University of Glasgow and help put pressure on companies to invest in sustainable and ethical sourcing of their minerals. We will also start working towards another demonstration on campus and documentary film screening to continue to raise awareness
of the situation in Congo and the power that we have as consumers to bring about change.