Blood in my mobile phone! : European Coltan companies fuelling war in the Democratic Republic of Congo... and lack of liability under European Union law

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Sanmartin Berraquero, Pilar
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“High-technology” genocide is one of the names given to the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo from 1998 to 2003, in reference to the fact that the exploitation of a raw material, fundamental for the existence of “third generation” mobile phones and wireless, was a key factor in fuelling the “First African War”. The conflict born from columbotantalite (coltan), serves as an example of the often endured suffering by people in under developing countries with massive natural resources, to satisfy western necessities. At the centre of the tragedy, European companies were protagonists of the trade of coltan. However not a single mechanism exits under European Union law to bring these companies to justice. The European Union does not yet seem to have accepted its moral responsibility resulting from the acts committed by its corporations, or from the reality that mobile phones sector, the indisputable cause of the war, represents one of the most important parts of its economy. Although EU law does not provide for competence over the issue, not one of the obstacles that may be found seem to be insuperable in defining a mechanism which will provide for coherence of the EU regarding Human Rights and its role as a global actor.
Second semester University: Université Libre de Bruxelles.
armed conflict, Congo, business corporations, corporate responsibility, European Union, criminal liability