22 June 2009 | Rebecca Ellinor
Smuggling, money-laundering and human rights abuses are rife in the diamond supply chain, say civil society groups.
A coalition including Global Witness in London, Fatal Transactions in Amsterdam and Green Advocates in Monrovia believe that an international agreement to certify 'conflict-free' diamonds is failing.
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KP), launched in 2003, is backed by the UN General Assembly and the Security Council. It requires that participating governments ensure each consignment is exported or imported in a secure container with a numbered, government-validated certificate stating the diamonds are conflict-free (not mined in war zones and used to fund paramilitaries). A total of 75 countries have signed, accounting for 99.8 per cent of the global production of rough diamonds.
Despite the measures, the coalition said the scheme was failing to address non-compliance, smuggling, money-laundering and human rights abuses in the world's alluvial diamond fields. It repeated its warning ahead of a meeting in Namibia.
Zimbabwe, Lebanon, Guinea and Venezuela were pinpointed as areas of concern. The groups called for better monitoring of the certificate scheme and for the KP to include diamond cutting and polishing centres. It again "called for the KP to ensure statistics regarding the purchase, use and sale of rough diamonds by cutting and polishing centres are incorporated into its internal control mechanism and reconciled in such a way that rough diamonds do not bypass other internal control measures".
Annie Dunnebacke from Global Witness said: "The clock is running out on Kimberley Process credibility. The work it was set up to do is vital - it would be scandalous if uncooperative governments and industry succeeded in hobbling it into ineffectiveness."