The underbelly of much of the global economy is populated by this entire subclass of humanity that is exploited in conditions that are no better than the centuries of slavery…Slavery, like any virus, has continued to evolve and morph and evade our efforts to inoculate civilization from this abhorrent practice. It persists and, in a way, it's more pernicious than ever because it persists beneath this veneer of paperwork that proclaims slavery has been abolished, and human dignity is upheld across the global economy…The truth has to be obscured. The companies at the top of the cobalt chain, that's big tech and EV manufacturers all proclaimed that they ensure the adherence to human rights standards all the way down to the bottom of their supply chains, including the mining of cobalt. They all proclaim they have zero tolerance policies on child labor and forced labor and any kind of labor abuse.
So the truth that none of that is true in terms of cobalt mining in the Congo, that truth cannot emerge because it means they're either dealing in falsehood or recklessly ignorant of the truth of their own supply chains. Either way, the truth has to remain hidden, and that's been the dynamic for slavery and colonialism for centuries.The truth must be obscured by the power brokers at the top of the chain. And truth seekers who go down to find the truth must be stopped. But ultimately, as it always does, truth does emerge. Light does pierce through the veils of darkness and obfuscation. And when the world learns of a horror, people of conscience come together to set things right and to bring some measure of justice.
British Academy Global Professor Siddharth Kara shares his horrifying research on the exploitation and inhumanity at the heart of the cobalt mining industry in the Congo upon which current rechargeable battery technology relies.