Rapaport Magazine

Brad Brooks-Rubin Details Ongoing Human Rights Concerns

Rapaport International Diamond Conference 2009

By Margo DeAngelo
RAPAPORT... "The diamond industry is not alone in wrestling with these issues about how respect for human rights should be addressed,” said Brad Brooks-Rubin, the special advisor for conflict diamonds at the U.S. State Department, at the September 10 Rapaport International Diamond Conference (IDC). Brooks-Rubin, who provides working level representation for the U.S. in the Kimberley Process (KP), named coffee and apparel as industries that have implemented effective initiatives on human rights issues and that may provide many useful ideas, including potential future collaboration.
Turning to the topic of the KP, Brooks-Rubin asked, “Where does the KP intersect directly with human rights issues? At a core level, I agree with those who assert that respect for human rights is a core and implicit element of an organization such as the KP, whose mission is to prevent the introduction of conflict diamonds into the legitimate trade. The diamond industry did not simply need help with shipment tracking, statistic keeping or miner registration. The KP came into being because there was a need to bring industry together with government and civil society to be able to provide the market with assurances that rough diamonds being used throughout the world had not fueled armed conflict or contributed to its associated horrors.”

Brooks-Rubin recognized that the definition of a conflict diamond does not include diamonds that may have reached the trade in scenarios that raise human rights concerns unrelated to rebel movements. But he stressed, “Where you have a situation of ongoing human rights concerns and of widespread systemic violence, it is certainly my contention — and I think the reality of Zimbabwe bears that out, as Cecilia Gardner and I both saw as part of the KP review mission — that those circumstances raise, at a minimum, serious questions regarding whether there is or can be a functioning KP compliance system.”

Explaining that human rights concerns related to the administration and security of diamond mining undermine confidence in any such system, Brooks-Rubin attested that human rights have to be a concern of KP compliance, even when the diamonds themselves may not technically be considered conflict diamonds. “This is something that the KP really is only beginning to deal with directly,” he observed.

Noting that the State Department “views as worthy” the discussion about whether the scope of what the KP covers fundamentally should be revised, he said “there is always a need for honest examination of systems like the KP to be sure they are functioning properly and addressing necessary issues.”

Brooks-Rubin committed to “doing what I can to ensure focus and attention in the U.S. government and from my counterparts in other governments,” while pointing out that buyers and sellers must be the industry’s first line of defense for its own reputation. “The entire industry needs to speak out and act accordingly when they see suspicious movements of diamonds or understand that the diamonds they are looking at have moved to the market under circumstances that ultimately are to everyone’s detriment,” he advised.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - October 2009. To subscribe click here.

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