Conflict Diamond Process Faces Credibility Test

Amnesty International
April 25, 2003

A global coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) is calling on governments participating in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) to ensure that the scheme has credibility and helps stop the trade in conflict diamonds. NGOs are calling on the governments to strengthen their efforts in the lead up to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) plenary scheduled for April 28-30 in Johannesburg South Africa. The meeting will be the first since the KPCS came into force on January 1, 2003. The three-day session will focus on implementation of the KPCS and will bring together representatives of the vast majority of the governments of diamond producing and trading countries, the international diamond industry and non governmental organizations who have spent the last three years trying to address the issue of conflict diamonds.

The KPCS establishes an international diamond certification scheme aimed at stopping conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate diamond trade, thereby cutting of the role these illicit stones play on fueling conflict and human rights abuses. Participating countries, as well as the industry have committed to adopt new, more stringent policies and procedures aimed at improving transparency, oversight and control of the trade to prevent diamonds from contributing to conflict and human rights abuses.

"With the passage of implementing legislation by the European Union and the United States as well as other countries the next phase of effective implementation now faces all of us", said Cara Thanassi, Policy Advisor, Oxfam America, one of the members of the U.S. Campaign to Eliminate Conflict Diamonds attending the meeting. The NGOs are concerned that despite the great distance the members of the KP have come, if in the end they cannot meet the threshold of trust and credibility that consumers and members of the general public want, there is a serious threat to the reliability of the entire system.

Among the key issues of credibility NGOs expect to be addressed are critical weaknesses in the areas of monitoring, membership, coordination and statistics. Currently membership is open to all countries, even if it appears unlikely they will be able to fulfill their obligations under the scheme. There is also no provision to allow independent monitoring of all participant's diamond control systems, despite last year's report by the United Nations extensively exposing the illegal looting of natural resources, including diamonds, of the Democratic Republic of the Congo by actors linked to some KP participants. Finally, no steps have been taken to create a coordinating body for a scheme that will involve over 70 countries, and no plan has been developed for the collection and analysis of production and trade statistics that will be the foundation on which the KP depends. "We are looking forward to discussing proposals and working together to take some concrete actions. Without progress on these fronts, we are concerned this initiative will fail to have a genuine impact on this bloody trade or re-establish consumer confidence resulting in dire consequences for the industry, diamond producing countries and the people of Africa," said Rory Anderson, Africa Policy Advisor, World Vision.

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