Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Car makers ‘ignore abuses’ at their peril

April 2010

The world’s largest ten car manufacturers are ignoring the human rights impacts of the metals they use – and therefore risk being linked to abuses in countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Unlike other industries, car makers are not considering the risks associated with the mining of metals within their CSR strategies, says a report from SOMO, the sustainable development research body.

SOMO concludes that Fiat, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Peugeot Citroën, Suzuki, Toyota and Volkswagen lack measures ‘to ensure that [the] supply chain is free of the grave violations that ... exist in the mining sector’.

The Netherlands-based body therefore claims the companies have been left vulnerable to association with human rights abuses in countries such as the DRC, which mines much of the metal – such as cobalt and coltan – used in electronic parts of cars.

By contrast, SOMO says, companies in the electronics industry ‘are increasingly committing themselves to addressing the issues in this phase of their supply chains’. The report recommends that car makers collaborate with electronics companies, and use their combined market power to pressure governments into behaving ethically. In addition, SOMO recommends that companies use their considerable recycling facilities to reduce the need for newly mined metals.

The report has coincided with a statement – from a group of 59 mainly US-based investors with $195billion (£130bn, €143bn) assets under management – urging firms to consider their position in the DRC.

Centre for Research on Multinational Corpotations | Global | Human rights

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