RAPAPORT… Global Witness has withdrawn from the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme charging that the organization has no interest to implement much needed reforms.
”Nearly nine years after the Kimberley Process was launched, the sad truth is that most consumers still cannot be sure where their diamonds come from, nor whether they are financing armed violence or abusive regimes,” said Charmian Gooch, a founding director of Global Witness.
The group claimed the Kimberley Process has become increasingly outdated due to its refusal to evolve and address the links between diamonds, violence and tyranny. ”Despite intensive efforts over many years by a coalition of non-government organizations, the scheme’s main flaws and loopholes have not been fixed and most of the governments that run the scheme continue to show no interest in reform,” Global Witness stated.
Gooch charged that the Kimberley Process failed to deal with the trade in conflict diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire, was unwilling to take serious action in the face of blatant breaches of its rules by Venezuela and has proved unwilling to stop diamonds fuelling corruption and violence in Zimbabwe. As a result, the scheme has become an accomplice to diamond laundering whereby dirty diamonds are being mixed with clean stones, she added.
In November, the Kimberley Process authorized exports from Zimbabwe’s Marange fields after years of deadlock over the controversial mine. The civil society coalition, led by Global Witness, boycotted the scheme’s November plenary and criticized the export deal. Global Witness noted continued reports that the Zimbabwean Central Intelligence Organisation, the state security service aligned with President Robert Mugabe, whose members are accused of committing acts of violence against opposition supporters, directly benefits from off-budget diamond revenues.
Gooch called for the cancellation of all existing contracts in Zimbabwe’s Marange fields with terms of reference, which reflect international best practice on revenue sharing, transparency, oversight by and protection of the affected communities.
Global Witness stressed that the diamond industry should be required to demonstrate that the diamonds it sells are not fuelling abuses by complying with international standards on minerals supply chain controls, including independent third party audits and regular public disclosure. Governments must show leadership by putting these standards into law, the group added.
”Consumers should not buy Marange diamonds, and industry should not supply them. Consumers have a right to know what they’re buying, and what was done to obtain it,” Gooch said. ”The diamond industry must finally take responsibility for its supply chains and prove that the stones it sells are clean.”