Securities Law Prof Blog

Editor: Eric C. Chaffee
Univ. of Toledo College of Law

Thursday, July 19, 2012

GAO Reports on Conflict Minerals Disclosure Rule and Stakeholder Initiatives

The GAO recently released a report on the Conflict Minerals Disclosure Rule:  SEC's Actions and Stakeholder-Developed Initiatives.(Download GAO.ConflictMinerals.592458[1])  Here is what the Report found:

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has taken some steps toward developing a conflict minerals disclosure rule, but it has not issued a final rule. For example, SEC published a proposed rule in December 2010 and has gathered and reviewed extensive input from external stakeholders through comment letters and meetings. SEC has also announced, on several occasions, new target dates for the publication of a final rule. In July 2012, SEC announced that the Commission will hold an open meeting in August 2012 to consider whether to adopt a final rule. According to SEC officials, various factors have caused delays in finalizing the rule beyond the April 2011 deadline stipulated in the act, including the intensity of input from stakeholders and the public; the amount of time required to review this input; and the need to conduct a thorough economic analysis for rule making.

Various stakeholders have developed initiatives that may help covered companies comply with the anticipated rule, but some initiatives have been hindered by SEC’s delay in issuing a final rule. Industry associations, multilateral organizations, and other stakeholders have developed global and in-region sourcing initiatives, which include the development of guidance documents, audit protocols, and in-region sourcing systems. These initiatives may support companies’ efforts to conduct due diligence and to identify and responsibly source conflict minerals. In the absence of SEC’s final rule, however, stakeholders note that uncertainty regarding SEC’s reporting and due diligence requirements has complicated their efforts to expand and harmonize their initiatives. For example, in the absence of a final rule, one initiative is facing difficulty engaging additional participants, while stakeholders’ efforts to harmonize two initiatives have been hindered.

Little additional information on the rate of sexual violence in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and neighboring countries has become available since GAO’s 2011 report on that subject. For example, only one population-based survey has been published on sexual violence in Rwanda, and it reports that 22 percent of women ages 15-49 have experienced sexual violence there in their lifetimes. No additional surveys have been conducted in eastern DRC; however, one organization is currently conducting a survey and another is planning to conduct a survey there in 2012.

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