Daily Archives: July 5, 2011

Blood Diamonds, Human Rights Abuses and the Diamond Trade

Last week a meeting of the diamond trade’s international watchdog, the Kimberley Process (KP), ended in stalemate on Zimbabwe’s trade future, with concerns still high about the situation at Chiadzwa. But despite ongoing reports of rampant smuggling, incidents of violence and human rights abuses, the KP chairman last week announced that Zimbabwe could resume exports.  The unilateral decision by the DRC’s Mathieu Yamba, said to be a known ally of the Robert Mugabe regime, has prompted calls for a boycott of Zimbabwe’s stones. Last week both Canada and America insisted that the decision was against KP protocol because there was no consensus from all KP members. At the same time the US based Rapaport trading group re-issued its trade alert on Chiadzwa stones, urging diamond dealers not to accept any diamonds sourced from Zimbabwe’s alluvial fields.  Last week Israel also distanced itself from Yamba’s decision, announcing that it would stop and search any diamond shipments that come from countries known to be dealing with Zimbabwe, namely China and India….Diamond exports from Chiadzwa have been suspended since June 2009 because of police and military abuses in the minefields. These include killings, beatings, forced labour and rampant smuggling of diamonds, all in contravention of KP standards. In November 2009 the Zim government and the KP agreed to a joint work plan, in which Zimbabwe promised to carry out a phased withdrawal of the armed forces from the diamond fields and to allow a monitor to examine all diamond exports to certify that they met KP standards.

None of these requirements have been met and the KP has been deadlocked for almost a year over what to do. Human Rights Watch said in statement that this dispute has “highlighted the failure of the consensus-based decision-making process to address government noncompliance.”

“The members have not been able to reach consensus to revise the KP rules to explicitly prohibit the sale of diamonds by governments that committed abuses to obtain them. Under the rules, a conflict diamond is narrowly defined as one sold by a rebel group to wage war against a government. That definition has left a major loophole since it does not prevent a government like Zimbabwe’s from committing abuses when it mines or sells diamonds,” Human Rights Watch said.

Excerpt, International consumers have been urged this week to boycott any diamonds from Zimbabwe’s controversial Chiadzwa diamond fields, until human rights abuses there have stopped, RadioNetherlands, July 2, 2011