An increasing number of non-governmental organizations, governments, diamond industry representatives and consumers are growing concerned that the penultimate meeting of the Kimberley Process in Luanda from 30th October to 1st November will not reach consensus on the essential elements of an international certification system for diamonds which are essential to a working and practical agreement.
NGOs are concerned by reports that some Kimberley Process participants, particularly the United States, may seek special 'opting out' privileges on some aspects of the minimum standards currently being discussed. The Kimberley Process has spent almost two years discussing how to combat conflict diamonds, which fuel wars, cause massive human dislocation and destruction in several countries in Africa. The ‘so called’ rebels who dismember children and murder civilians in Sierra Leone, Angola and Liberia are terrorists like any other. The Western world reacts quickly when it is the object of terrorism, but where Africans are concerned, it is much, much slower. In the Kimberley Process, too many half measures are proposed; opting out, exceptions and brackets become the order of the day.
The United States Government has nearly 60% of all global diamond jewellery sales within its borders and must take a leading position. Despite being an early advocate of the whole Kimberley Process, the US has taken an increasingly weak and disruptive position. Given the United States Governments recent history of reneging on international treaties and agreements the outlook is worrying.
Finally we urge all members of this process to stand down from small national preoccupations and concerns about bureaucratic inconvenience so that the Kimberley Process can move forward to the United Nations General Assembly in December with a meaningful, credible and effective certification process that tells all those who deal in conflict diamonds that they will no longer be tolerated anywhere.
“It is not acceptable for delegates to arrive in Luanda without a mandate to agree to key elements of the certification system. For delegates to state that ‘nothing can be agreed until everything is agreed’, is making a mockery of the process and causing considerable delay to the successful outcome of the process,” said Alex Yearsley of Global Witness.
Global Witness is a member of Fatal Transactions, the international consumer awareness campaign on natural resources and conflict. This work has been made available through funding by the European Union.
Press Release / Oct. 26, 2001