Major Diamond Player in Non-Compliance with Worldwide Agreement
On October 27, delegates from more than 40 countries, plus all those represented by the European Commission, will gather in Ottawa with representatives of the world’s diamond industry and the civil society organizations that have been campaigning against conflict diamonds, to assess the progress of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). Canada has chaired the Kimberley process during 2004.
Over the past decade, diamonds were used by rebel armies in Angola, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to pay for weapons and to fight some of Africa’s most brutal wars. More than three million people died as a result of these conflicts. After two years of complex negotiation, the KPCS was inaugurated on January 1, 2003. Today, no rough diamonds are allowed to cross international borders without a certificate from the government of the exporting country, guaranteeing that the diamonds are conflict free. Each participating country implements a system of internal controls to back this guarantee. In addition, each country agrees to provide complete diamond statistics so that production and trade can be reconciled as diamonds move from one country to another.
There are still problems with internal controls in some countries, and these will be discussed at the Ottawa meeting. There are, however, major problems with the statistical data base. A number of countries still submit statistical data with significant delays and use different methodologies for providing the data. Thus, while some countries use the information provided on the Kimberley Process Certificates, others rely on trade information from customs. Use of different methodologies creates comparative statistical inaccuracy.
Unfortunately, Russia has provided no diamond statistics at all. Legislation to declassify diamond data (hitherto a state secret), was passed months ago, but has still not been signed into law by President Putin. Russia, one of the world’s largest diamond producers, is slated to take the Chair of the Kimberley Process in January 2005.
“Russia’s non-compliance for almost two years on this key issue brings its proposed chairmanship of the Kimberley Process in 2005 into serious doubt,” said Corinna Gilfillan of Global Witness.
Partnership Africa Canada and Global Witness, two organizations that have participated in the Kimberley Process since it began, call on all governments participating in the KPCS to provide regular and timely trade and production data, based on the information that is used on Kimberley Process certificates. Without a resolution of this issue at the forthcoming meeting, the KPCS cannot provide assurance that diamonds entering the world’s jewellery stores are conflict-free.
For further information, please call:
Partnership Africa Canada
Dorothée Gizenga Ngolo
Press Release / Oct. 21, 2004