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Monday, November 22, 2010

RJC Warns Members not to Trade in Marange Diamonds

A watchdog organization for the sustainable and conflict-free sourcing and sales of gemstones, precious metals and jewelry has told its members not to trade in diamonds from the Marange mine in Zimbabwe until it receives Kimberley Process approval.

“No trade of Marange diamonds can currently take place under the Joint Work Plan until an agreement can be found. Participants are therefore reminded of the need for vigilance and ask Participant to notify the WGM chair in the event of receipt of an irregular shipment of Marange diamonds, until new arrangements are agreed that will allow continued implementation of the Joint Work Plan, including the supervised export mechanism,” The Responsible Jewellery Council said in a statement to its members.

The RJC is a non-profit organization promotes responsible ethical, human rights, social and environmental practices in a transparent and accountable manner throughout the industry from mine to retail. Zimbabwe wants to export diamonds from its controversial Marange field, where human rights groups allege it is the scene of forced labor, torture, beatings and harassment by government troops. The southern African country denies all allegations.

The Kimberley Process is charged with preventing trade in “blood” or “conflict” diamonds, the term used for diamonds mined in a war zone and sold to finance an insurgency, invading army's war efforts, or a warlord's activity. It operates a certification scheme designed to eliminate these issues in the trade of diamonds by identifying the source of a diamond’s origin. After four days of closed-meetings I early November, the KP was unable to reach a decision on the trade of these diamonds.

The KP suspended diamond trading from the Marange mine, then instituted a Joint Work Plan where diamonds could be sold under KP supervision. Two diamond sales were held in August and September. But NGOs and some diamond traders are not convinced that the alleged human rights abuses have been eliminated.

The RJC statement reads as follows:

As is known to all Kimberley Process (KP) Participants, and as is stated in the Draft Communiqué, circulated to all participants on November 12th, 2010, the Plenary did not come to an agreement regarding KPCS arrangement for diamonds from the Marange area (Zimbabwe). Consultations are ongoing and I am confident that we will find a consensual way forward which recognises the progress made by Zimbabwe in terms of compliance with KP requirements, whilst offering sufficient reassurance that there would continue to be progress in all areas under the Joint Work Plan, so that we can eventually bring the whole of Marange – and indeed Zimbabwe as a Participant - into full KP compliance. Meanwhile, it is of utmost importance that all Participants remain vigilant and ensure that the terms of the Joint Work Plan and Saint Petersburg agreement are respected these consultations are ongoing. As a consequence, no trade of Marange diamonds can currently take place under the Joint Work Plan until an agreement can be found. Participants are therefore reminded of the need for vigilance and ask Participant to notify the WGM chair in the event of receipt of an irregular shipment of Marange diamonds, until new arrangements are agreed that will allow continued implementation of the Joint Work Plan, including the supervised export mechanism. I very much count on your support and will keep you informed of developments.

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