Robert D. Hormats
Under Secretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs
U.S. Institute of Peace
Washington, DC
November 15, 2011

As prepared for delivery

Good afternoon, and thank you for attending this important event. I begin by thanking my colleague, Under Secretary Maria Otero, with whom I have been pleased to coordinate the Department’s work on conflict minerals. Maria visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) last month, and I know she will have much to say about her trip later in the program. We are all grateful for her leadership.

I must also acknowledge Bureau of African Affairs Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Don Yamamoto. The Africa Bureau is, of course, a key player in the development and implementation of all aspects of our work on conflict minerals. Thank you so much, Don.

I would like to acknowledge USAID’s Senior Deputy Administrator for Africa Sharon Cromer, for her agency’s important work and partnership on this issue. Thank you very much, Sharon. In addition, I would like to acknowledge the foreign dignitaries and ambassadors here today whose governments have been instrumental in establishing a conflict-free supply of minerals that benefits the people of the Great Lakes region.

And, very importantly, the many NGOs who have been among the very first to raise the prominence of this issue in the public eye and to press stakeholders to address it. Their moral leadership has been impressive and a critical factor in the progress we are making.

Finally, I would also like to express my gratitude to our hosts, the United States Institute of Peace—and its Center for Sustainable Economies—and Hewlett-Packard (HP). I note that HP was the very first private sector company to join the alliance we launch today.

As we all know, security and stability in parts of the eastern DRC remain a serious concern and require a resolute, multi-faceted, and morally inspired response by all stakeholders. The illicit mining and trading of minerals in the Congo fuels armed conflict and represents one of the great human rights challenges of our lifetime. Since my first days as Under Secretary, I have been focused on promoting responsible minerals trade instead of transactions that benefit rebel groups or criminal elements of the army. For me, this issue is more than just doing what is needed; it is a moral imperative that we work together to ensure these minerals are developing, not destabilizing, the region. It is a moral imperative that the State Department plays a leadership role. Secretary Clinton’s leadership has been influential in encouraging us to do this – and her visit to the region have been crucial to the efforts we are undertaking today.

I am thrilled to be here today with all of you with Maria to represent the Department in launching the Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade. The PPA will be a vehicle that allows governments, companies, civil society, the NGOs, and others to harmonize our technical and financial resources to support validated, conflict-free supply chains for minerals sourced in eastern Congo and the larger region.

As a result of our excitement about this new initiative and the possibilities that it carries, we are planning to invest approximately $3.2 million in initiatives related to the PPA’s work, specifically to support conflict-free minerals certification and traceability. Our goal is for companies and industry associations to invest $2 million or more in funding by the end of 2012. Even before this official launch, we are almost halfway there, with $830,000 already pledged toward this goal. This is an incredible demonstration of commitment and a sign, I believe, of the success to come.

It is also a concrete demonstration of industry’s commitment to ensuring not only that their purchases don’t fuel conflict – but also to making sure that we help produce a more sustainable and prosperous future for the people of the Congo and the Great Lakes region. Reaching these goals without the private sector is not possible. Fortunately, industry is at the forefront of developing creative solutions to this complex problem.

The companies and trade associations here today represent those willing to take a chance on an issue that many have said is simply too complex and costly to tackle. For the last several years, our colleagues from the electronics, IT, and telecommunications sectors have been in the forefront of those saying, “The issue may be complex and costly, but it is one we cannot walk away from.” Companies like Motorola Solutions, HP, Intel, AMD, and Dell have been working with us for several years. I am heartened to see a number of companies from other sectors, such as Ford, GE, and the World Gold Council are also involved. It is equally important that we recognize that so many non-U.S. companies – RIM, Telefonica, Sony, Toshiba, and HC Starck –have joined the PPA. Their participation reminds us that tackling this critical issue requires a global effort, involving end users and other actors throughout the supply chain from around the world.

I also want to take a minute to note the important work that nongovernmental organizations have played in this process. Since the beginning, they have been the driving force in drawing attention to issue. We would not be here today without the efforts and moral leadership of these organizations.

The most critical thing now is that we – governmental actors, the private sector, and civil society – come together to deal with the underlying problem in the DRC and build a way forward. That is why I am here and why you are here. I look forward to achieving our goals together. If we succeed we can save countless lives, relieve the misery and danger faced by hundreds of thousands of people, and produce economic opportunities for the region that will mitigate this continued source of war and end the abuses by those who benefit from the profits realized by conflict minerals. Thank you again for being here with us and for being a part of the PPA.