Global Witness quits Kimberley Process

December 19, 2011

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Civil society group Global Witness has walked away from the Kimberley Process (KP), saying it is “an accomplice to diamond laundering, whereby dirty diamonds are mixed in with clean gems.”

Diamond industry groups are expressing their disappointment following the announcement Global Witness is walking away from the Kimberley Process (KP).

World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) president Avi Paz recognized the non-governmental organization (NGO) for its contribution over the last nine years to stamp out conflict diamonds, but added he would have liked to have thanked the group for reconsidering its decision.

“Unfortunately, with Global Witness leaving the scene, the most experienced and veteran NGO in the KP will no longer be able to guide the other members of civil society from a confrontational into a more co-operative direction,” he added. “We’re very sorry to see them leave at this critical point in time.”

Global Witness stunned the industry with its announcement it was leaving the scheme it helped found. The news comes about a month following the KP’s decision to lift the ban on diamond exports from Zimbabwe.

“Nearly nine years after the Kimberley Process was launched, the sad truth is most consumers still cannot be sure where their diamonds come from, nor whether they are financing armed violence or abusive regimes,” said Charmian Gooch, a founding director of Global Witness. “The scheme has failed three tests: it failed to deal with the trade in conflict diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire, was unwilling to take serious action in the face of blatant breaches of the rules over a number of years by Venezuela, and has proved unwilling to stop diamonds fuelling corruption and violence in Zimbabwe. It has become an accomplice to diamond laundering, whereby dirty diamonds are mixed in with clean gems.”

The World Diamond Council (WDC) called on Global Witness to reconsider withdrawing.

“The overriding goal of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) has been to protect the integrity of the diamond, so that it properly contributes to bettering the lives of ordinary people living in the areas in which it is mined and processed,” said WDC president Eli Izhakoff. “The system is not perfect, and is in need of constant review. However, you cannot contribute to the process if you are no longer engaged.”

Endnotes:
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