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Marange Diamonds and the RJC Certification System

Feb 2, 2010 11:12 AM   By Responsible Jewellery Council
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Press Release - Statement to RJC Members, February 2, 2010: The reported human rights abuses in the Marange diamond fields in Zimbabwe are of grave concern to all who advocate responsible practices in the jewelry supply chain.

The Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) includes specific provisions regarding human rights and conflict diamonds as part of its Certification System, which was formally launched in December 2009.

Marange Diamonds

In November 2009, shipments of diamonds from the Marange fields were suspended, pending the appointment of a Kimberley Process (KP) monitor for the region. However, there are reports that Marange diamonds have been, and still are being, smuggled out of Zimbabwe with illicit or counterfeit Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) certificates. While no goods from Marange can be legally exported from Zimbabwe at present, illicit diamonds may be entering the supply chain as a result of illegal practices.

The smuggling of rough diamonds from a country enforcing KP law is a crime, as is the use of ill-gotten KP certificates. RJC strongly supports the efforts of law enforcement agencies in combating the issue. Certainly, the appointment of the special monitor and progress in implementing the joint working plan will assist in maintaining good order in the KP.

RJC reminds its members that no one should be dealing in recently exported Marange diamonds and they are therefore expected to demonstrate due diligence as they continue to fully comply with the KPCS and the World Diamond Council (WDC) System of Warranties. Members are advised to exercise extreme caution when buying rough diamonds on the market to ensure that they do not originate from Marange, despite the current KPCS suspension. Once the KP monitor is in place in Zimbabwe, all exports from Marange must bear the signature of the monitor on the KP certificate.

In light of the serious situation in Zimbabwe, the RJC will ensure that auditors place an extra level of vigilance on the potential for nonconformances in this area. Auditors will be kept updated on the situation via training delivered by the RJC and alerts on relevant developments.

The RJC will continue to monitor progress on KPCS implementation in Zimbabwe and urges all parties to work diligently toward resolving the situation in Marange.

RJC Certification Requirements

Through the RJC Certification System, the RJC requires that its members must not knowingly buy or sell conflict diamonds or assist others in doing so. The RJC Code of Practices includes four provisions requiring conformance with the KPCS for rough diamonds and the WDC System of Warranties. Noncompliance with any of these provisions is considered a "critical breach" under the RJC Certification System, which will trigger disciplinary proceedings leading to sanctions against that RJC Member, which may ultimately lead to expulsion from the Council.

The RJC Code of Practices also includes specific provisions on human rights, which refer to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights and ILO Conventions on child labor, forced labor, freedom of association and discrimination. There are also provisions requiring RJC Members to consider the risks related to the ethical, human rights, social and environmental practices of significant business partners and use their ability to influence and promote responsible business practices among them.

RJC Members must evidence conformance with the Code of Practices through an independent verification assessment, which involves desktop reviews and site visits. Independent, third-party auditors will look for objective evidence of conformance in the form of management systems, observed practices and record-keeping.

Contacts:
• Michael Rae, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), RJC, .61.3.9874.6345, Michael.Rae@responsiblejewellery.com  
• Catherine Sproule, Chief Operations Officer (COO), RJC, 1.416.551. 4195, Catherine.Sproule@responsiblejewellery.com  

About RJC

The Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) is an international not-for-profit organisation bringing together more than 150 member companies committed to promoting responsible ethical, human rights, social and environmental practices in a transparent and accountable manner throughout the industry, from mine to retail. Their commitment aims to reinforce consumer and stakeholder confidence in diamond and gold jewelry products.

The Council has developed the RJC System, a certification system that will apply to all member businesses that contribute to the diamond and gold jewelry supply chain. All commercial members of the RJC are required to be audited by accredited, third-party auditors to verify their conformance with the RJC’s Code of Practices and become certified under the RJC System.

The RJC and a full list of its members can be found on the web at www.responsiblejewellery.com.  

Rapaport News is not responsible for, and does not endorse, the content of any press release. Press releases are not written by us and are provided only as additional information for our clients.
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Tags: Conflict Diamonds, Jewelry, Kimberley Process, Marange Fields, Responsible Jewellery Council, RJC, World Diamond Council, Zimbabwe
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