Electronic devices and the violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo are the subject of an international conference tomorrow and Sunday at Clark University in the U.S. state of Massachusetts.
It’s being held in partnership with the organization Jewish World Watch, based in Los Angeles.
The gathering is called Informed Activism: Armed Conflict, Scarce Resources and Congo. Minerals needed for electronic devices are mined in the DRC and are the source of mass violence there.
Organizers say consumers become unwitting participants in the conflict when they buy popular electronics products such as cell phones, MP3 players, game consoles and laptops.
A conflict-free mineral movement is gaining momentum across US campuses.
This gathering is intended to shape policy initiatives on college campuses and beyond.
The organizer of the event, Mikaela Luttrell-Rowland, is the academic program liaison officer for the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University.
“The real motivation for the summit was student activism,” said Luttrell-Rowland. “Without a question, the Strassler Center…really responded to an impressive, amazing outpouring of action taken by Clark University undergraduates last year.”
She said the university recognized an opportunity to bring together many interested parties.
“The Clark students really rallied the [university] administration to adopt a purchasing policy of electronics that takes into account the issue of conflict minerals and thinking about what those minerals have to do with cell phones, electronics and iPads,” said Luttrell-Rowland.
So far one thousand people have committed themselves to participate in the summit, with hundreds more expected. Luttrell-Rowland said she’s excited that 38 universities are sending students from across the United States and that delegates will be attending from 42 non-governmental organizations from Africa, Europe and the United States. Other participants will include academics and experts from around the world.
The opening address will be delivered by Chouchou Namegabe, recipient of the Knights International Journalism Award. She will talk about her experience of training Congolese women to report on sexual violence and human rights abuses.
“It’s really going to be an international and wonderful group,” said Luttrell-Rowland.