As elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) approach, today Global Witness called on donor governments to do more to promote broad reforms in the DRC’s diamond sector. Global Witness’s recommendations, outlined in a new briefing document, are aimed at preventing diamonds from fuelling conflict and ensuring that diamond revenues contribute to the country’s development.
“Since the transitional government was put in place in 2003, it has failed to take adequate control over the diamond sector. Donor governments have only paid lip service to the problems of corruption in the diamond sector and have not done enough to encourage the transitional government to tackle these problems head on,” said Corinna Gilfillan of Global Witness.
Diamonds, the DRC’s most valuable export, are one of several resources that have contributed to armed conflict in the DRC from 1998 to 2003. Although armed conflict has decreased in the DRC since the peace agreements signed in 2002, fighting between the national army and various rebel groups has continued in parts of the country, particularly in the east. Some of this fighting has centred around diamond mines and other areas rich in minerals and natural resources.
“The election of a new government in the DRC in July 2006 is a crucial time to revive efforts to improve the management of the diamond sector,” said Corinna Gilfillan. “Donors should seize this opportunity to work with the new government to implement effective reforms without delay.”
DRC’s official diamond exports have significantly increased in recent years, largely due to the DRC’s participation in the Kimberley Process – an international mechanism designed to prevent the trade in conflict diamonds. However, the DRC still does not have a strong set of controls in place to track all diamonds from the mine to the point of exports. As a result, diamonds are still being smuggled in and out of the country.
“The responsible management of diamonds and other natural resources is crucial to the future stability and peace in the country and to economic growth,” said Gilfillan.
Global Witness is calling on:
- the DRC Government to fully implement the recommendations made by the Kimberley Process review visit in October 2004
- Bilateral donors to press at a high level for improved governance over natural resources and develop a coordinated plan of action to support these efforts.
- International financial institutions to make non-humanitarian aid and loans to the DRC government conditional on establishing a transparent system of accounting for public revenues from natural resources.
The full Global Witness briefing document released today, “Reforming the DRC Diamond Sector”, can be found at http://www.globalwitness.org/diamondreports
For further information, please contact:
Corinna Gilfillan: +1 202 725 8705 (for queries in English)
Carina Tertsakian: + 44 207 561 6372 (for queries in French)
Notes for editors:
- Global Witness focuses on the links between the exploitation of natural resources and the funding of conflict and corruption. It is non-partisan in all its countries of operation. Global Witness has been co-nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for its work in uncovering how diamonds have funded civil wars across Africa.
- The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (Kimberley Process) is an international diamond certification scheme aimed at preventing the trade in conflict diamonds. Launched in January 2003, the scheme requires governments and the diamond industry to implement import/export control regimes and internal systems of controls on rough diamonds. The Kimberley Process was negotiated by governments, civil society organizations and the diamond trade, in response to civil society campaigning against the trade in conflict diamonds. The diamond industry committed to implement a system of warranties and code of conduct to keep conflict diamonds out of the legitimate trade.
- See Global Witness briefing document “Reforming the DRC Diamond Sector” for more details on the problems in the DRC diamond sector and specific recommendations for addressing them. http://www.globalwitness.org/diamondreports
Press Release / June 14, 2006