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Monday, January 24, 2011

Kimberley Process Moves Closer to Approving Diamond Exports from Marange

It appears that the Kimberley Process is one step closer to allowing Zimbabwe to sell diamonds through its certification scheme from the controversial Marange field in Zimbabwe. Not because diamonds from what is considered to be the largest deposit of diamonds in the world are conflict-free, but because the body made up of diamond industry representatives, government officials from 75 countries and non-governmental organizations have approved an amendment that will make it more difficult to prove human rights abuses by Robert Mugabe’s government.

Just to be clear, the KP is the international organization charged with preventing trade in illicit diamonds.

What KP members did was approve an amendment to the “violence clause,” of an agreement they have been trying to approve since November, according to Voice of America and other publications. This clause is apparently one of the strongest sticking points to coming to terms with the thorny political issue of deciding what to do about Zimbabwe and its alleged human rights abuses at Marange.

Under the new language, three rather than two member countries would have to endorse a call for monitoring by the industry watchdog group, VOA reports.

This has been reported for the past week, but I held off on posting it because there was no actual, on-the-record confirmation by anyone associated with the KP, although some individual members have made statements. But this has been such widely reported and consistent in its reporting that I believe it to be fact.

As usual, this approval was done in secret. Yet, this is the organization that is charged with ensuring consumers that the diamonds they buy are conflict-free.

Alan Martin, research director with Partnership Africa Canada, a Kimberley Process NGO member, told VOA reporter Tatenda Gumbo that if Harare accepts the revised agreement that will be a step toward further export sales of Marange diamonds.

There’s much more written about this on this Web site. Just do a search for “Zimbabwe” or “Kimberley Process.”

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