Global Witness announced Monday that it had pulled out of the Kimberley Process, the international certification scheme established to stop the trade in blood diamonds, citing the process’ “refusal to evolve” and an inability to address key loopholes.
The Kimberley process was started in 2003 to control and monitor the trade in rough diamonds and prevent the sale of so-called conflict diamonds. The diamond industry, rights groups and 75 countries, including the U.S., participate in the process.
Global Witness said Monday that the process has failed to address the clear links “between diamonds, violence and tyranny,” despite intensive reform efforts by a coalition of NGOs.
“Nearly nine years after the Kimberley Process was launched, the sad truth is that most consumers still cannot be sure where their diamonds come from, nor whether they are financing armed violence or abusive regimes” said Charmian Gooch, the founding director of Global Witness, in a news release.
“The scheme has failed three tests: it failed to deal with the trade in conflict diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire, was unwilling to take serious action in the face of blatant breaches of the rules over a number of years by Venezuela and has proved unwilling to stop diamonds fuelling corruption and violence in Zimbabwe. It has become an accomplice to diamond laundering – whereby dirty diamonds are mixed in with clean gems.”
Specifically, the good governance group cited the recent authorization by the Kimberley process of exports from two companies operating in the controversial Marange diamond fields in Zimbabwe.
A report by Human Rights Watch accused the Zimbabwean army of killing miners to gain control of the site and senior figures in Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party of using revenue from the fields to buy loyalty from security forces. The Zimbabwean government has denied the accusations.
The Kimberley Process couldn’t be reached for comment. The U.S. State Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Global Witness called for the diamond industry to adhere to independent third-party audits and regular public disclosures to ensure diamond sales are not fueling abuses. The group also said governments should put international standards on minerals supply chain controls into law.