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Global Witness Withdraws From Kimberley Process

Dec 5, 2011 4:27 AM   By Avi Krawitz
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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 Global Witness has withdrawn from the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme charging that the organization has no interest to implement much needed reforms.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The group claimed the Kimberley Process has become increasingly outdated due to its refusal to evolve and address the links between diamonds, violence and tyranny.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.''


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Tags: Avi Krawitz, Conflict Diamonds, diamonds, Global Witness, Kimberley Process, Rapaport
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Next - Dodd-Frank
Dec 6, 2011 1:14AM    By Chuck Blakeman
Global Witness took credit for creating Kimberley and writing the Kimberley Process Technical Documentation. It was supposed to rid Africa of criminals connected to diamonds, an incredibly naive and misguided approach. Kimberley, as with the new Dodd-Frank approach to minerals in the Congo, targeted the symptom (one of many revenue sources for the militia), instead of the cause - the militia themselves. Even if it would have been successful at keeping criminals from selling diamonds, which it was not, the criminals would have just moved on to gold, tantalum, tungsten and tin. So to solve that, let's just create an onerous and unworkable process for those minerals as well called Dodd-Frank. And who will this hurt? Only the innocent, law-abiding miner. The criminals will just keep on like they do in the diamond trade. Criminals in the Congo also own restaurants - should we put together a verification process to make it harder for law-abiding restaurant owners to do business as well? They also steal agricultural goods. Should we make it harder for law-abiding farmers to do business as well? Here's a radical thought. Go after the cause - the militia. The UN has stood by for 15+ years and watched people get robbed, raped and killed in the Congo. They have even participated in the smuggling. We need to grow a backbone and go after the cause and root them out. Australia doesn't need a Dodd-Frank Act because they don't have militia going after the minerals. And if they did, it would only make it harder for law-abiding people to do business. The lesson of Kimberley? Demonize criminals, not minerals. Go after the cause, not a symptom. Global Witness would never support this because they wouldn't be able to use it as a fundraising message. They would rather elongate the problem forever by going after they symptom. They raised a lot of money demanding a Kimberley process and then raised a lot more railing against it for ten years. Now they can raise money for another ten years demanding a replacement for the process they created, so they can rail against that one, too. It makes for great fundraising, but meanwhile untold thousands are hurt by going after the symptom instead of the cause. Kimberley was bad enough. Dodd-Frank, which demonizes at least four minerals throughout central Africa and involves 100,000 companies, will be a hundred times as damaging to the innocent tribes who mine these minerals in the Congo. Even before it is implemented a de facto embargo of central Africa has devastated the entire region. Here we go again. Dodd-Frank should keep Global Witness and Enough Project employed for decades before they declare it dead, too. Then they can raise money dancing on its grave. It's a win-win for them. But what about the people dying in the Congo because of it? That's not their problem - they have bills to pay.
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