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Monday, November 8, 2010

NGOs Demand that Zimbabwe Meets its KP Commitments before Selling Diamonds

Kimberley Process members must ensure that Zimbabwe is following the organization’s commitments before allowing the country to sell diamonds from its Marange diamond fields, KP nongovernmental organization members said.

Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada, known as the KP Civil Society Coalition, released a statement following four days of closed door meetings, in which KP members couldn’t agree on whether to allow Zimbabwe to sell diamonds from its controversial diamond field, the source of alleged human rights violations.

The KP banned Zimbabwe from selling diamonds from the Marange fields following reports of the killing of more than two hundred miners by the Zimbabwean security forces in late 2008 along with patterns of violence and smuggling. The KP authorized two sales (in August and September) from the controversial source under close supervision despite reports of continued violence at the mine.

The NGOs say they recognize that some progress in terms of technical controls has been made since the initial ban. “However, key commitments made in the Joint Work Plan and a follow up agreement reached in St Petersburg in July—which links exports to progress on the ground and emphasizes the role of Zimbabwean civil society—remain unmet. It is only through implementing these agreements that Zimbabwe will meet Kimberley Process minimum standards and prevent renewed violence in Marange,” the statement read.

“The KP Civil Society Coalition remains committed to playing a constructive role in finding an agreement between the Kimberley Process and Zimbabwe; one which allows all Zimbabwean people to benefit from the country's diamond wealth, while ensuring that human rights are respected and the integrity of the KP scheme is preserved,” the statement continued. “We believe that such an agreement must link exports from Marange with progress in implementing existing commitments and reflect the fundamental KP principle of country—rather than individual mine—certification. The most important of these commitments include:

“• Endorsement and respect for the local civil society monitoring mechanism established by the St Petersburg agreement by which Zimbabwean NGOs report to the KP on conditions in Marange.

“• Measures agreed by Zimbabwe and the Kimberley Process to remove the military from Marange and put in place a system of law enforcement overseen by civilian authorities.

“• Steps to tackle illegal mining and cross border trafficking of diamonds, including the establishment of regulations that allow for small scale mining of diamonds.”

There are rumors that impasse over the Zimbabwe issue may bring down the entire Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which “imposes extensive requirements on its members to enable them to certify shipments of rough diamonds as ‘conflict-free’ and prevent conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate trade,” according to the KP Web site.

KP certificate

“Under the terms of the KPCS, participating states must meet ‘minimum requirements’ and must put in place national legislation and institutions; export, import and internal controls; and also commit to transparency and the exchange of statistical data. Participants can only legally trade with other participants who have also met the minimum requirements of the scheme, and international shipments of rough diamonds must be accompanied by a KP certificate guaranteeing that they are conflict-free.”

KP member states

The KP has 49 members representing 75 countries with the European Union and member states counting as individual participants, according to the KP Web site. It includes 99.8 percent of the diamond industry, government officials and the World Diamond Council, which represents the international diamond trade. The NGOs participate in what appears to be a less significant role.

The KPCS was first conceived in 2000 and finalized in 2002 in response to the civil war in Sierra Leone. Specifically, the use of diamonds by the Revolutionary United Front to purchase weapons that were used to commit atrocities against civilians that left many thousands dead or mutilated, with unknown numbers of people abducted and tortured.

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