Rapaport Magazine

KP's Cecilia Gardner Notes Human Rights Challenges

Rapaport International Diamond Conference 2009

By Margo DeAngelo
RAPAPORT... "Our industry should continue to play a positive economic role in the countries where we operate and it is imperative that we do so in a way that prevents the violation of human rights in diamond-rich areas. Such violations are certainly worthy of our condemnation. We call not only upon governments, but on any institution assigned the subject of human rights to act and to do so now,” urged Cecilia Gardner, director of the U.S. Kimberley Process (KP) Authority Institute, at the Rapaport International Diamond Conference (IDC) 2009.

Gardner is also general counsel of the World Diamond Council (WDC), an international organization that works to end the trade in conflict diamonds, and serves as president, chief executive officer (CEO) and general counsel of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC), a nonprofit trade organization dedicated to legal compliance in the jewelry industry.

Gardner stressed that the KP is contributing to the lives of people who work in diamond-rich areas. In the six years since the KP was launched, the incidence of conflict diamonds in the pipeline has dropped from 4 percent to less than 0.2 percent, according to Gardner.

Acknowledging that the KP “was born out of a concern for human rights,” Gardner explained that it continues to monitor compliance among its participants. If a participant ignores allegations that KP standards are not being met, then they will, according to KP procedures, no longer be welcome among the group of participants who trade rough diamonds.

“Certainly the allegations, for example, in places like Venezuela, Guinea and Zimbabwe are violations of the standards that the KP already has in place,” Gardner recognized. “Having said that, the KP is not an organization that was designed to stop smuggling. We have law-enforcement organizations all over the world who are empowered to stop smuggling,” she stressed.

Gardner pointed out some of the specifics of diamond mining in Zimbabwe. “Number one, there are three sources of diamonds from Zimbabwe, one of which is problematic: Marange diamond fields. There are two other mines, River Ranch and Murowa, that produce diamonds in Zimbabwe, and their KP compliance is spotless. The other thing about the Marange fields that you should know is that 90 percent of the diamonds are industrial.” Tens of thousands of people are drinking clean water and going to school in Zimbabwe because of the diamond mines in their communities, Gardner added.

Noting inaction on the part of international institutions that address violations of human rights, Gardner stated, “Changing words on a piece of paper isn’t going to change the fact that it is the KP that is out in front, dealing with the very serious problems that exist in Marange.” Quick action is essential, Gardner asserted, “to provide the political will and the resources to assist the government of Zimbabwe to reestablish KP compliance.”
Speaking on behalf of the WDC, Gardner stated that if the recommendations from the KP’s recent review visit are not implemented in an acceptable timeline, the WDC will have “no hesitation in calling for the suspension of Zimbabwe from the KP.”

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

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