Spier speaks on 'Raise Hope for Congo'

Mercyhurst’s Evelyn Lincoln Institute for Ethics and Society will be hosting speaker J.D. Spier to speak about his campaign, Raise Hope for Congo.

Stier is the campaign manager for the Hope for Congo campaign, an initiative that is building awareness on the trade of conflict materials that are used in consumer products, such as cell phones, laptops and tablets devices, that are commonly found on college campuses.

Congo has been in a state of war since 1996 and while the wars were officially ended in 2003, there is still conflict within the country today.

One of the latest additions to the countries conflicts is the group M23, a rebel group that is allegedly backed by neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.

According to the BBC around 700,000 people have been displaced because of this group alone. Other rebel groups operating in the Congo include the Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), and the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP).

Stier’s talk is part of the Ethics Institute’s focus on emerging technology and ethics series.

“The focus for our event is the connection between the unethical sourcing of this ‘conflict mineral’ which perpetuates the violence and death in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Associate Director of the Institute Stephanie Barnhizer said.

The campaign has a variety of programs that seek to end the trade of conflict materials. The group ranks companies based on, “[companies] energy use and emissions, green products, and sustainable operations.”

Hopeful activists can find an online guide to make your city a conflict free zone, which will ban conflict related products from being sold in the area, which hopes to coerce companies to improve where they get their materials.

The Conflict Free Campus Initiative asks students to get their campus to purchase conflict-free products.

Many campuses across the country have begun to support this initiative such as Duke University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Pennsylvania, and Ohio State University.

The Raise Hope for Congo is a member of the Enough Project, a collective of campaigns that focus on African conflicts, such as the violence in the Congo, the Darfur crisis, and the Sudanese conflict.

Their mission statement, as posted on their website is, “The Enough Project fights to end genocide and crimes against humanity, focused on areas where some of the world’s worst atrocities occur.”

The Enough Project is partnered with groups like Amnesty International, Invisible Children, Oxfam America and other groups that seek to influence the public to help end the large scale violence in Africa. The project also receives a large amount of celebrity endorsement from film stars, musicians and professional athletes.

The event will be Thursday, Jan. 17, at 4:30 p.m. in Zurn 314 and is free and open to the public.

For more information about the Enough Project and their campaigns visit www.enoughproject.org. For information regarding the Raise Hope for Congo visit their website www.raisehopeforcongo.org.