June 21, 2005
Human Rights Groups Review Kimberley Process
Five years after the creation of the Kimberley Process, the international diamond certification scheme is still having difficulty stopping all conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate trade, say Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada, two non-governmental organizations which monitor the plan and its goal to keep conflict diamonds from entering the trade. The groups issued a report on the eve of a Kimberley Process meeting in Moscow earlier this month. Russian is the 2005 chair for the group.
In a recent press release, the groups said more must be done to ensure the process works effectively and acts as a credible mechanism to prevent diamonds from again fuelling conflict. Diamonds continue to be a factor in fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and are also playing a role in a conflict in Cote d'Ivoire. Official exports from Cote d'Ivoire were halted in 2003 but there are fears other Kimberley Process-member countries in West Africa may be exporting diamonds that originate in Cote d'Ivoire. DRC and Cote d'Ivoire are Kimberley Process members.
The Kimberley Process has helped to curb the problem of conflict diamonds, but hasn't stopped their trade, say the NGOs. They cite significant problems in the collection and analysis of diamond production and trade statistics, which are essential to the detection of conflict diamonds. Some countries are failing to submit required statistics on time, while other countries submit poor-quality data or figures that can't be compared with data from other nations. Bulgaria, Central African Republic, China, Guinea, Ghana, Guyana, Laos, Lesotho, Malaysia and Venezuela have outstanding, incomplete or noncompliant data, according to the NGOs. Tanzania has submitted no statistical data. The U.S. does not submit data that can be compared with other national statistics, creating a problem because it is the largest diamond jewelry market.
So far, there've been no consequences for non-compliant countries failing to meet the minimum requirements of the Kimberley Process, say the NGOs. "Technical and financial assistance should be provided to those participants that are not complying due to limited capacity and resources," the groups said in their statement. "There should be a standard procedure for removing a country from the Kimberley Process if they have failed to submit data after a 60-day period, and have been notified of this," said Ian Smillie from Partnership Africa Canada.
The monitoring system must also be strengthened to make sure that all national diamond control systems are thoroughly reviewed and any weaknesses identified are tackled, the groups said. The NGOs said it was encouraging that 32 Kimberley Process participants have received or will receive a review visit, but stressed that a further eight must still step forward: Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Laos, Korea, Namibia, Thailand and Venezuela.
The groups said even when review visits have been carried out, there is not enough follow-up to ensure that weaknesses identified in diamond control systems have been addressed and any recommendations implemented. "Countries that have received review visits should report back to the Kimberley Process giving information about how recommendations are being taken up and implemented," said Corinna Gilfillan, lead campaigner at Global Witness. "Review visit reports should be made public to ensure transparency and credibility of the process."
The two groups believe it is crucial that a three-year review of the Kimberley Process, scheduled to be completed by 2006, is carried out by a team of independent evaluators who can impartially assess how the process is working and identify concrete ways that it can be improved.