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What should we do about blood diamonds?

By The Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition


Countries where diamond mining is associated with severe human rights abuses, in particular the Central African Republic, Zimbabwe, Angola and Venezuela, need to enable independent investigations and uphold the rule of law to ensure accountability for perpetrators and remedy for victims.

The Kimberley Process (KP) Certification Scheme needs to undergo serious reform to make sure it holds relevance to the current conflict and human rights challenges facing the sector. Without such reform, it becomes ever more irrelevant and undeserving of the considerable time and resources allocated to it by the 85 participating governments, as well as industry and civil society observers. Today, it even falls short in its narrow focus on diamonds that fuel civil war, for two main reasons. Firstly, its approach fails to stop the trade in conflict diamonds from the one country that meets its narrow definition, namely the Central African Republic. Secondly, the KP’s noncommittal and substandard system of rules and oversight allows these conflict diamonds — together with blood diamonds associated with other types of widespread or systematic violence — to get KP-certified and thus “whitewashed” as conflict-free for unwitting jewelry consumers.

India, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Israel, China and Botswana need to seriously tighten controls on the diamond trade, building on the European Union’s best practices. Together, these are home to the six diamond trading hubs through which the overwhelming majority of all rough diamonds produced globally enter the market. Antwerp is the only one of these centers that has adequate rules in place to stop the trade in conflict diamonds as defined by the KP. However, none of the six major hubs takes measures to prevent diamonds associated with other kinds of widespread violence or human rights abuse from contaminating the legal trade.

Diamond mining companies should commit to undergoing independent auditing against robust social, environmental and human rights standards. Such standards exist today — in particular those developed by the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA), which offers third-party certification — but no diamond mining companies have yet formally committed to this scheme. Such a commitment should go hand in hand with support to professionalize and source from artisanal and small-scale mining. Given the millions of people who depend on this for their livelihoods, this is the diamond sector’s best guarantee of enhancing its development impact.

Diamond mining, manufacturing, trading and retail companies, with the help of industry associations such as the World Diamond Council, the Responsible Jewellery Council, the International Diamond Manufacturers Association, and the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, need to start implementing genuine due diligence measures in diamond supply chains, a process that is already long ongoing for other conflict minerals like gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten. Such measures should enable the sector to identify, mitigate and prevent human rights abuses associated with diamond purchases.

kpcivilsociety.org

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