NGOs: Kimberley Process Resists Change

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Press Release: A report to the United Nations Security Council, to be released this week, has found that a significant volume of conflict diamonds from the rebel-held area of Côte d’Ivoire is entering the legitimate diamond trade. This undermines the fundamental aim of the three year old Kimberley Process, which was established to ensure that all rough diamonds traded internationally are conflict-free.

The UN Group of Experts on Côte d’Ivoire has found that poor controls are allowing conflict diamonds to enter the legitimate trade through Ghana, where they are being certified as conflict-free, and through Mali. As well as pointing to the need for stronger internal controls in the region, the Group of Experts recommends that international trading centres introduce better systems for identifying suspicious shipments of rough diamonds.

The Kimberley Process is currently undergoing a review intended to make it more effective in stemming the trade in conflict diamonds, but there has been strong resistance by some governments to any meaningful change in the status quo. Earlier this year, NGO investigations rather than the Kimberley Process uncovered significant diamond fraud in Brazil and Guyana. As a result, Brazil suspended all diamond exports for more than six months. In the case of Ghana, a Kimberley Process review team that visited the country in 2005 has still not completed its report.

If the Kimberley Process cannot demonstrate at its upcoming annual meeting in Botswana, in November 2006, that it has closed the loopholes, it will be in danger of becoming irrelevant, Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada said today.

“We are extremely concerned about the findings contained in this UN report,” said Ian Smillie of Partnership Africa Canada, “not just because the Kimberley Process has been unable to identify the problem itself, but because it shows that weak government controls in one place can make a mockery of the entire system.”

“The Kimberley Process must demand stronger and more comprehensive government controls across the diamond pipeline to make sure conflict diamonds cannot enter the legitimate diamond trade.” said Susie Sanders of Global Witness.

“It must ensure that governments carry out periodic spot checks of companies trading in rough diamonds and it has to improve its analysis of trade and production figures. There must also be an adequately funded system of credible independent audits of diamond dealers and exporters in artisanal diamond-producing countries. If it can’t agree to demand tougher gov ernment controls, with better oversight of the diamond industry, the Kimberley Process will be little more than a paper-pushing exercise. The UN report on Côte d’Ivoire is testament to this.”

Partnership Africa Canada works with organizations in Africa, Canada and internationally to build sustainable human development in Africa.  Since 1999, Partnership Africa Canada has been a leader in the international campaign to bring good governance to the international diamond trade and to eliminate conflict diamonds.

Global Witness focuses on the links between the exploitation of natural resources and the funding of conflict and corruption. It is non-partisan in all its countries of operation.

Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada were co-nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in uncovering how diamonds have funded civil wars across Africa.

 

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