Remarks
Maria Otero
Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs
U.S. Institute of Peace
Washington, DC
November 15, 2011


(As prepared for delivery)

I have the privilege of concluding this afternoon’s events. All of us are here today because of our commitment to see a definitive end to the conflict and violence that has plagued the Great Lakes region, and because we believe the PPA to be an important step toward that end.

The fact of the matter is that we are staring down an intimidating set of challenges, and none of us -- in government, in the private sector, in NGOs, or other organizations -- can do it alone. This was imminently clear on my trip to Burundi and the D.R.C. last month. I saw firsthand the complex linkages between conflict minerals, human rights abuses, and the local economy. I spoke with many artisanal miners shoveling dirt under the hot sun to earn perhaps a dollar a day. I visited the first commercial gold mine in Eastern D.R.C. just before it began operations and was impressed by its efforts to build more sustainable solutions to the illicit trade in minerals. And I met victims of Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Bukavu, where violence is often connected to conflict minerals.

A multi-dimensional problem requires a multi-dimensional answer. In launching this Alliance, we are moving in the right direction toward fully traceable, validated and conflict-free supply chains.

We are also institutionalizing a longstanding commitment of Secretary Clinton to draw our approaches and solutions from all sectors, and particularly from civil society. Having once worked as part of civil society, both Secretary Clinton and I have a profound appreciation for the work that happens outside of government. As she often says, civil society, government and the private sector form the three legs of the stool that represents any successful, prosperous nation. Together, these three legs lift and support nations as they reach for higher standards of progress and prosperity. So it is no coincidence that we've set up this Alliance to reflect that belief.

From the time she visited eastern D.R.C. two years ago, Secretary Clinton charged us to find new, practical and innovative ways to address the endemic challenges facing the D.R.C. and Great Lakes region. And there is no question that our civil society and private partners are help driving our response to her mandate. It is the organizations in this room that are on the front lines of this movement, at times risking your own physical security to give voice to the human and social cost of conflict minerals. Your field work, rigorous research, and program implementation brings the necessary technical expertise and ground truth back to the PPA. And you are helping to inform our path forward as we identify opportunities to build a more stable and prosperous D.R.C.

So with that, let me express my thanks, on behalf of Secretary Clinton, to USIP for hosting us, to my colleagues from the U.S. government, especially USAID for their considerable commitment of resources and time, and to our PPA partners here in this room – you are the early adopters and thought leaders of this initiative. It would not be possible without you.

We look forward to working together in supporting a conflict-free minerals trade. I’d like to also ask my colleague Under Secretary Robert Hormats to join us on stage for the signing of the MOU.