Global Witness, the international campaigner against resource-related conflict and corruption, has left the Kimberley Process, the international certification scheme established to stop the trade in blood diamonds.
In an official statement announcing the organisation’s decision, Global Witness founding director Charmian Gooch said the Kimberley Process’s refusal to evolve and address the clear links between diamonds, violence and tyranny had rendered it increasingly outdated.
“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” she said.
“The scheme has failed three tests: it 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 the rules over a number of years by Venezuela, and has proved unwilling to stop diamonds fuelling corruption and violence in Zimbabwe.
“It has become an accomplice to diamond laundering – whereby dirty diamonds are mixed in with clean gems.”
She said that in a shocking move the Kimberley Process recently authorised exports from two companies operating in the controversial Marange diamond fields in Zimbabwe.
“Over the last decade, elections in Zimbabwe have been associated with the brutal intimidation of voters. Orchestrating this kind of violence costs a lot of money. As the country approaches another election there is a very high risk of Zanu PF hardliners employing these tactics once more and using Marange diamonds to foot the bill. The Kimberley Process’s refusal to confront this reality is an outrage.
“Consumers should not buy Marange diamonds, and industry should not supply them. All existing contracts in the Marange fields should be cancelled and retendered with terms of reference which reflect international best practice on revenue sharing, transparency, oversight by and protection of the affected communities.”
Gooch concluded 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.
“Consumers have a right to know what they’re buying, and what was done to obtain it,” she said.
“The diamond industry must finally take responsibility for its supply chains and prove that the stones it sells are clean.”