24 November 2008
A new certification scheme to tackle the problem of "blood diamonds" and address ethical sourcing will be launched at the end of November by the Council for Responsible Jewellery Practices (CRJP).
All 90 members of the council, which includes miners, manufacturers and retailers, will have two years to achieve certification, which aims to act as an umbrella standard and remove duplication that exists among various companies and organisations.
Catherine Sproule, chief operating officer for the CRJP, said the certificate, which has taken three and a half years to develop, will give consumers assurance that gold and diamonds bought from accredited members has been ethically sourced and diamonds are conflict-free.
"The certification will be awarded to companies only once their supply chains have been assessed and approved by accredited independent auditors," she told SM.
Critics have argued that current international certification to prevent blood diamonds and voluntary industry schemes do not give consumers complete assurance. De Beers, Rio Tinto and Argos say they will incorporate the certificate into their own ethical sourcing policies.
Watchdogs welcomed the move, but remained sceptical. "It's a step in the right direction but who are the auditors and whose payroll will they be on to ensure they are truly independent?" said Annie Dunnebacke, campaigner at Global Witness.
• Rights & Accountability in Development, the advocacy NGO, has called for controls to ensure supply chains of UK firms are accountable for human rights abuses. They said promotion of OECD guidelines (News 18 September) is a hollow exercise without effective enforcement.