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 governments to strengthen their efforts in the lead up to the Kimberley Process plenary scheduled for 28-30 April in Johannesburg, South Africa. The meeting will be the first since the KPCS came into force on 1 January 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 NGOs 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 off the role these illicit stones play in fueling conflict and human rights abuses and financing terrorist activities. 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 conflicts and human rights abuses.
Global Witness’ recent report ‘For a Few Dollars More, How al Qaeda moved into the diamond trade’ shows the links between the diamond trade and international terrorism and exposes how al Qaeda devised and carried out a ten-year strategic move into the unregulated diamond trade.
“This report provides compelling evidence of how al Qaeda and other terrorist entities used diamonds to finance their activities and to launder significant amounts of money,” said Corinna Gilfillan, Campaigner, Global Witness, who will be attending the plenary meeting. “Governments and the diamond industry must act now to close the loopholes in the Kimberley Process to ensure that terrorists do not have access to the highly lucrative rough diamond trade.”
“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 progress members of the KP have made, 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 for effective, independent monitoring of all participants’ 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.
A copy of Global Witness’ report “For a Few Dollars More, How al Qaeda moved into the diamond trade” is available in pdf format at www.globalwitness.org/reports
Press Release / April 25, 2003