Authors: Hester Postma and Sara Geenen

Working paper 2020.06
  • We study whether and under which conditions non-state actors can hold private actors along mineralsupply chains to account in case they breach regulations;
  • We provide detailed insight in the functioning of a due diligence programme on the ground;
  • We research the ITSCI programme in Rwanda, based on 51 semi-structured interviews and observations in Rwanda;
  • We found several challenges regarding monitoring, accessibility of information, and the risk of minerals from non-ITSCI sites entering the ITSCI system;
  • We conclude non-state actors can hold private actors to account on four conditions.

Context & objectives

In response to growing international concerns over mineral extraction and trade contributing to human rights violations and conflict financing, recent US (Dodd-Frank) and EU legislations have focused on transparency and due diligence in mineral supply chains. Simply put, companies must provide information on their supply chains and demonstrate that they identify and act upon risks. As such,companies are increasingly held morally, politically and legally accountable for their activities, or those of their suppliers, abroad” (see Partzsch and Vlaskamp, 2016, p.978). Our broader research project, of which this paper is part, focuses on accountability in non-state supply chain regulation, namely: how can private actors be held to account? This paper reports on a case study of the most widely used traceability and due diligence programme for 3T minerals (tin, tungsten and tantalum), the International Tin Supply Chain Initiative (ITSCI) Programme for Responsible Mineral Supply Chains. It studies the concrete implementation of the programme in Rwanda, and addresses the key question whether and how this non-state actor (in this case a non-profit organization implementing a due diligence programme) can hold private actors (in this case upstream supply chain actors that are members of the programme) to account.