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January 30, 2010

Conflict Diamonds? What about conflict cell phones? Are electronics manufacturers promoting the violence in the Congo?

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zaire as it was known until 1997, there has been a war going on since 1998 (despite a 2003 peace deal).  It has been speculated that this is the deadliest war since World War II.  It has also been stated that the prevalence of rape in East Congo is the worst in the worldWhat does this have to do with your cell phone (or mp3 player, laptop, etc.) you may ask? 

Eastern Congo, where the fighting is most severe, is one of the best places in the world to mine Coltan.  Coltan is a unique metal used in the batteries of small electronics.  Competition over Coltan mines have fueled the civil war in the Congo.  Does your cellphone, mp3 player, laptop, etc., use "Conflict Coltan"?