RAPAPORT… Update 6/24/11: Rapaport News has learned that Kimberley Process chairman, Mathieu Yamba, approved Zimbabwe’s rough exports on his own, without agreement from member states. The U.S. State Department is expected to issue a statement on this development. (Read: Rapaport Trade Alert)
On Thursday, the civil society coalition, one of the three pillars of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, walked out of the intercessional meeting, saying negotiations with Zimbabwe were harming the scheme’s credibility. The meeting subsequently ended in a stalemate as members failed to reach consensus regarding the Marange issue. As it was left, Yamba was supposed to then distribute a draft proposal to members and seek written consensus on Zimbabwe’s exports.
The coalition, which includes Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), stressed that the scheme is not meeting its most basic commitments to prevent diamonds from fueling violence and human rights violations, and to provide guarantees to consumers that they are buying clean diamonds.
“We note, with bitter regret, that there is a significant gap between our expectations of the scheme, and what it is actually achieving,” said Alfred Brownell of Green Advocates in Liberia, on behalf of the coalition. “For that reason we are expressing a vote of no confidence in the Kimberley Process.”
The Kimberley Process meeting, being held in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), focused on compliance issues surrounding Zimbabwe’s Marange mine, which has dominated the scheme’s agenda for the past two years. The latest proposal, which was reportedly rejected by the U.S., Canada and Israel, endorsed exports from two Marange concessions operated by Mbada Diamonds and Marange Resources while other concessions would be subject to a Kimberley Process monitoring team until the next plenary meeting in November.
The Kimberley Process requires full consensus from all members to pass a resolution. Civil society, and the World Diamond Council (WDC), which represents the industry, have observer status in the scheme.
Brownell stressed that the process has failed to protect the interest of communities that have suffered from diamond fuelled violence.
He also reacted to a speech given by Zimbabwe’s minister of Mines and Mineral Development, Obert Mpofu, who renewed his pledge to export the diamonds regardless of any pending Kimberley Process decision. “We are appalled by the lack of respect shown to Kimberley Process members by the Zimbabwean minister and shocked by the Kimberley Process membership’s silence in response – not just yesterday but for the past three meetings,” Brownell said.
Alan Martin, a researcher for PAC, stressed that the walkout did not signal an abandonment of the Kimberley Process. “Our intent was to provide the Kimberley Process with a wake-up call to reconsider the value structure of the scheme,” he told Rapaport News. “We will continue to work to prevent conflict diamonds from entering international markets, and remain willing to work with all partners on credible solutions to the problems we face.”
Whether that transpires within the framework of the Kimberley Process will be left for each member of the coalition to consider, he added.