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Africa: Dead End for Diamond Monitoring?
Sep 12, 2011 (110912)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
According to a new analysis from Partnership Africa Canada,
the Kimberley Process, a joint government-industry-civil
society group intended to monitor "conflict diamonds" is
"unable and unwilling to hold to account participating
countries that repeatedly break the rules." Unless
governments are willing to support significant reforms,
which seems unlikely, activists must seek other mechanisms
to prevent diamonds from fueling violence and human rights
Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) has played a leading role
in the NGO campaign to counter the impact of diamond sales
in fueling wars and human rights abuses, in Sierra Leone,
Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Zimbabwe.
In particular it has been a key player in the Kimberley
Process, beginning in 2000, which has aimed at providing
certification for consumers for diamonds not implicated in
conflict. So its sober conclusion about the future of the
process is particularly significant.
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from the most
recent issue of PAC's "Other Facets," a regular newsletter
on the topic, as well as from a recent report by Human
Rights Watch on abuses against artisanal miners at the
Marange fields in Zimbabwe.
For more background on this issue, see in particular
For the recent award of the Alison des Forges prize to
Zimbabwean human rights campaigner Farai Maguwu, see
An excellent book on the subject is Ian Smillie, Blood on
the Stone: Greed, Corruption and War in the Global Diamond
Trade, 2010. Portions can be read online at Amazon.com. See
Previous AfricaFocus Bulletins with relevant material
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++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++
News and Views on the International Effort to End Conflict
Number 35 August 2011
Other Facets, a periodic newsletter about the international
effort to end diamond-related conflict, is a publication of
Partnership Africa Canada. For more information:
firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.pacweb.org
[Excerpts only. For full text and other resources on the
issue, visit http://www.pacweb.org]
The Kimberley Process Derails over Zimbabwe
NGOs Walk out of Kinshasa KP Meeting, Consider Options
A tempest in a tea cup or a harbinger of things to come?
For the first time in the Kimberley Process's almost
decade-long life span, civil society not only walked out of
a meeting, but expressed a unanimous vote of no-confidence
in the way the scheme is operating. The move came during
the June 20-24, 2011 KP Intersessional meeting in Kinshasa
when it became clear that most delegations were more
interested in a face saving exit strategy than resolving
the myriad problems of Zimbabwe's Marange diamond fields.
The position was informed by several hard truths about the
current state of the KP:
- It is unable and unwilling to hold to account
participating countries that repeatedly break the rules.
- It does not prevent diamonds from fuelling violence and
human rights violations, and thus cannot provide guarantees
to consumers that they are buying 'clean' diamonds.
- It is unwilling to defend civil society, an integral
member of the KP's tripartite structure.
While the walkout may only have covered the last two days
of the Kinshasa meeting, it sparked a wider conversation
among civil society groups about what, if any, role they
will continue to play within the KP. Civil society can no
longer accept the pretence that the KP in its current form
can stop human rights abuses in diamond fields, or even
guarantee the origin of diamonds. It does neither. Nor are
most governments willing to strengthen the KP so that it
can achieve these goals.
When compared to initiatives like the Extractive Industries
Transparency Initiative (EITI), the KP has lost any claim
it may have once had to being an innovative and dynamic
conflict-prevention scheme. To restore its credibility as a
regulatory body, governments participating in the KP need
to commit to meaningful reforms that address the scheme's
manifold shortcomings and loopholes. The necessary reforms
are well known to KP participants but are worth repeating:
adoption of an independent third-party monitoring system;
credible sanctions for non-compliance; updating the
definition of "conflict diamonds" to ensure that the KP
works to prevent violence from contaminating the diamond
supply chain; reforming its decision-making processes; and
widening the KP mandate to include the cutting and
polishing industry. The KP must also adopt a more
proactive, risk-based approach to curbing the illicit
diamond trade and the loop-holes that allow diamonds to
NGO's patience is running thin. The longer the KP dithers
on embracing these reforms, and the more it whitewashes
egregious examples of non-compliance, the more civil
society groups will look to other initiatives to achieve
its goals of a sustainable, conflict-free diamond supply
Zimbabwe? No Double Standards Here ...
An often heard refrain from African governments and
industry is that Zimbabwe is being held to a "different
standard" than other KP participants, and that a "political
agenda" is behind an "overly onerous" roadmap to bring it
back into full compliance with KP minimum standards.
This should come as news to C?te d'Ivoire, Guinea, Republic
of Congo, Ghana, Brazil, and Venezuela which have all faced
various corrective prescriptions - including suspension -
due to incidences of non- compliance. In many examples,
regaining their good standing took years; for others the
process continues. With the exception of Venezuela, all of
them have had to submit to outside scrutiny to prove they
have rectified identified shortcomings - mostly related to
smuggling and weak internal controls. So, Zimbabwe is not
the first, nor will it be the last, country to be singled
out for special attention.
But Zimbabwe does stand out as a country where state actors
have unleashed murderous violence on their own diamond
sector. There is also a significant difference in attitude
between officials from Zimbabwe and other countries with
weak internal controls. Officials from Guinea and the
Democratic Republic of Congo have openly admitted their
challenges and sought assistance. Zimbabwe has failed to
acknowledge any problems, refusing assistance from many
quarters, including South Africa and Ghana.
If anything, Zimbabwe has benefited from a double standard
that is not talked about - it is the only country that is
not expected to honour agreements it makes. Unlike Ghana or
Guinea, each time the KP meets to discuss Zimbabwe, the
standards are lowered further and further. This was
demonstrated in the text of an agreement circulated in
Kinshasa that KP Chair Mathieu Yamba later used to reaffirm
his March 2011 decision to unilaterally greenlight exports
from Marange (see sidebar "Kinshasa text"). The proposal
falls far short of what is acceptable to maintain the
credibility of the KP, protect civilians and civil society
members living and working in Marange, or prevent
substantive quantities of illicit diamonds from infecting
the global diamond supply chain.
While the August 2010 report of the KP Review Mission to
Zimbabwe found some improvements, it still concluded that
Marange as a whole was far from compliant. Despite reaching
this conclusion, the Kinshasa text makes no reference to
the specific actions that Zimbabwe should be taking to
bring the region into compliance with KP minimum
The Kinshasa text is glaringly silent on demilitarizing the
diamond fields or tackling cross-border smuggling. It is
also silent on Zimbabwe's commitment to de-criminalizing
and formalizing small-scale mining.
Artisanal miners in Zimbabwe are driven by poverty to risk
injury and death at the hands of security forces. Without
dedicated areas where they can mine legally, they will
remain vulnerable to violence and Zimbabwe will have
difficulty achieving KP compliance.
During the KP Plenary in Jerusalem in November 2010, the
mining company Canadile (now operating as Marange
Resources) imploded amidst allegations of corruption that
personally implicated Zimbabwe's Minister of Mines, Obert
Mpofu, and half of the company's board of directors (See
Other Facets 34). Yet participants in Kinshasa, led by
South Africa and the KP Chair, were prepared to accept an
agreement allowing exports from Marange Resources, without
requiring evidence that the concession has restored
appropriate control systems.
Delegations in Kinshasa also saw fit to remove any mention
of the Civil Society Local Focal Point (LFP) from the text.
This is a betrayal of the July 2010 St. Petersburg
agreement, in which enhanced KP monitoring for Marange
(through the work of the LFP) was accepted by Zimbabwe in
exchange for KP authorization of two shipments of exports
from Marange. Zimbabwe exported its diamonds, but now
rejects calls that it honour the second half of that
bargain and work with the Local Focal Point in a respectful
and responsible manner.
Ethical Consumers and Africa - A Growing Disconnect
One thing that has emerged from this long debacle over
Zimbabwe is the growing disconnect between the mostly
artisanal and alluvial diamond producing countries in
Africa and countries that have to retail diamonds to
ethically conscious consumers. Many African diamondproducing
countries, including some that bore the brunt of
the diamond fuelled civil wars of the 1990s, do not seem to
realize that consumers will not buy diamonds that are
linked to violence, whether this violence comes at the
hands of rebel groups or from state security forces.
Countries with a retail jewellery business, however,
particularly in North America and Europe, have additional
considerations. If the diamond brand gets tarnished, their
businesses feel the pinch. Like it or not, 60 percent of
the consumer market is still in North America and Europe.
Were even a fraction of that market to dry up a ripple
effect would be sent down the entire diamond supply chain.
Market research cited in a 2009 Lifeworth Consulting report
on corporate responsibility also suggests that high networth
consumers in India and China (the fastest growing
consumer markets for diamonds) are increasingly motivated
by ethical considerations. The report can be viewed at:
What does this mean for African diamond producing
countries? It could have far-reaching economic consequences
if retailers lose confidence in the KP and move to develop
systems that eliminate artisanal African diamonds from
their supply chains.
In the days that followed the Kinshasa Intersessional
meeting, PAC received several unsolicited calls from
concerned ethical diamantaires in North America. All
reaffirmed a growing trend: as ethical jewellers they are
making a conscious and principled effort to source rough
stones from mines in countries with no taint of violence.
This is not good news for African producers, and it
underscores a growing trend that countries ignore at their
Some countries, particularly South Africa, should know
better. In Kinshasa, South African Minister of Mines Susan
Shabangu used her inaugural KP meeting to demonstrate the
wrong kind of leadership. By accepting the KP Chair's
invalid notice on Marange diamonds, South Africa placed
itself as a beachhead for laundering Zimbabwe's dirty
diamonds. In doing so, Minister Shabangu placed South
African diamonds on par with those from Marange, and
undermined the Kimberley Process that South Africa did so
much to help create.
Future exports from South Africa are now going to face
added scrutiny, and possible sanction, by countries that
did not accept the Chair's notice, which to date include
India, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, the European
Union, Switzerland, Canada and the United States. In other
words, the major trading and manufacturing centres have
upheld their commitment to the KP, demonstrating
commendable support for its rules and procedures.
The Kimberley Process: Necessary, but not Sufficient
Since the Kinshasa June Intersessional meeting, a lot of
journalists have been asking questions the diamond industry
would rather not hear. What guarantee does anyone have that
a diamond they buy is conflict-free? Does a KP certificate
count for anything? With diamonds haemorrhaging out of
C??te d'Ivoire, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe, and the origin of
half of the diamonds coming out of DRC unknown, the answer
isn't a happy one for law-abiding diamantaires.
If the KP cannot reform itself and has lost interest in
defending human rights, then perhaps it's time for the KP
to change its brand and re-think the promise it makes to
consumers around the world. Civil society will then turn to
other mechanisms to achieve the outcomes we want: a
sustainably managed and conflict-free diamond supply chain
that actually does benefit local communities, not just
Whether the KP evolves or not, the diamond sector must not
be allowed to return to the free-wheeling criminality with
which it was characterized in the 1990s. In a post-911
context, the world cannot allow this high- value, low
volume commodity to be unregulated. While the KP is proving
itself to be an increasingly inadequate tool, the
international community will still need to combat not only
conflict diamonds, but also illicit diamonds used to
finance terrorism and launder the proceeds of crime.
Looking for a Hero - Will the Diamond Industry Please Stand
The private sector has an important role to play in both
shoring up the KP and providing an alternative if the KP
cannot meet consumer demands for an ethical jewellery
supply chain. Just don't tell that to the World Diamond
Council (WDC), which is nervously hoping events in Kinshasa
don't bring too much scrutiny to its "system of warranties"
(SOW) - their much-heralded, but empty, self-regulatory
initiative. Not only are the SOWs shockingly obsolete when
compared to similar initiatives that seek to allay consumer
demands for social and environmental responsibility in
various supply chains, 10 years on they remain largely at
the discussion stage. While some movement towards
developing a more robust supply chain management system for
diamonds and gold is emerging through the efforts of the
Responsible Jewellery Council, the Alliance for Responsible
Mining and the OECD, more needs to be done.
Making matters worse for industry was a June 2011 report by
Fair Jewelry Action and Lifeworth Consulting, which
benchmarked ten prestigious jewellery brands on their
social and environmental performance, including their
ethical sourcing of precious metal and gemstones. With the
exceptions of Cartier and Boucheron, most brands failed to
meet growing consumer expectations.
As the report stated: "The results of the study suggest
that the major reasons for the overall poor performance
include an inadequate focus on traceability and pro-poor
development issues, insufficient transparency . . . and
limited attention to relationships. The reason for this
lack of leadership is argued to be the absence of a
positive vision for responsible jewellery. Although a
decade of effort to reduce conflict and environmental
damage from jewellery supply chains has curbed poor
practices, it has not yet shaped an aspirational role for
jewellery. The focus has been on risk reduction, rather
than delivering positive outcomes." The report can be read
Zimbabwe: Rampant Abuses in Marange Diamond Fields
Police, Private Security Guards Attacking Miners
Human Rights Watch, August 30, 2011
[Excerpts. For testimonies see original at
(Johannesburg) - Zimbabwe police and private security
guards employed by mining companies in the Marange diamond
fields are shooting, beating and unleashing attack dogs on
poor, local unlicensed miners.
The evidence gathered by Human Rights Watch contradicts
claims that areas controlled by private mining companies,
instead of by the Zimbabwe government alone, are relatively
free of abuses.
Over the past six months, police and private security
personnel have attempted to clear the fields of local
miners whom they accuse of illegally mining diamonds. Human
Rights Watch research found that in many cases, the police
and private security guards used excessive force against
the miners. The violence follows claims, in June, by the
government and the head of an international industry
monitoring body that conditions in the Marange fields are
sufficient for it to be allowed to resume exports of
diamonds from Marange.
"Shooting defenseless miners and unleashing dogs against
them is inhuman, degrading and barbaric," said Tiseke
Kasambala, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.
"The diamonds from the Marange fields are tainted with
Local civil society activists told Human Rights Watch that
the government has granted six international mining
companies concessions in the Marange fields. The companies'
private security guards carry out joint patrols of the
mining areas with Zimbabwe police. Local miners said that
most of the companies have built electric fences around
their mining concessions, while security guards with dogs
regularly patrol the concessions. However, local miners are
still able to reach the fields and sometimes stray into
areas under the companies' control.
Some members of the international diamond monitoring body,
known as the Kimberley Process, have tried to argue that
conditions in the areas controlled by joint ventures are
not abusive, and that those diamonds should be certified
and allowed onto international markets. But Human Rights
Watch has found, on the contrary, evidence of serious abuse
by private security guards patrolling the joint venture
Human Rights Watch researchers interviewed 10 miners in
Mutare and towns close to the Marange diamond fields who
had been beaten by guards and attacked by their dogs after
being caught by mine security in the past six months.
During patrols, police would also fire live ammunition at
the miners as they fled, the miners said.
"I was attacked by all of them," one of the miners told
Human Rights Watch. "The dogs were biting me and I was
screaming. It was terrible."
Medical personnel who treated the miners at neighboring
clinics and the main provincial hospital confirmed that
they had treated wounded miners. An official at a local
clinic told Human Rights Watch that he had treated between
15 and 20 victims of dog attacks a month since April, many
with serious wounds. Clinic officers also reported seeing
people with gunshot wounds, including people who had been
shot in the head.
Many of the miners were reluctant to report the incidents
to the police, miners and local activists said, as they
were afraid of being arrested for digging in the fields
because they were unlicensed. The government has conducted
no investigations into these abuses.
The Ministry of Mines and Development, other relevant
Zimbabwe authorities, and the mining industry in Marange
need to take immediate measures to stop these abuses and
ensure accountability for abuses by members of the police
force and the private security guards, Human Rights Watch
said. At a minimum, the companies should follow
internationally recognized standards on security, such as
the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights,
investigate any allegations of abuse, and urge
investigations of those acts.
Human Rights Watch urged the Kimberley Process
Certification Scheme (KP), an international body that
oversees the diamond trade, to suspend all exports of
diamonds from the Marange fields and asked retailers to
refuse explicitly to buy Marange diamonds. The KP has not
adequately addressed the abuses in Marange.
"The ongoing abuses at Marange underscore the need for the
Kimberley Process to address human rights instead of
capitulating to abusive governments and irresponsible
companies," Kasambala said.
On June 23, Mathieu Yamba, the KP chairman, announced that
he had made a unilateral decision to lift the KP ban on
exports of diamonds from the Marange fields. He took the
decision even though independent monitoring, including the
organization's own investigation, had confirmed serious
human rights abuses and rampant smuggling at the Marange
fields. This decision, if implemented, would mean that the
export of Marange diamonds is now permitted, without any
monitoring for human rights abuses or credible evidence
that Zimbabwe is complying with the Kimberley Process
However, the Kimberley Process operates by consensus, and
members such as the European Union, the United States,
Israel and Canada criticized Yamba's position. Others, such
as South Africa, supported it. As a result, the
organization remains deadlocked over whether to allow
exports of diamonds from Marange.
"The Kimberley Process appears to have lost touch with its
mission to ensure that blood diamonds don't make their way
to consumers," Kasambala said. "By ignoring the serious
abuses taking place in Marange, it is losing credibility as
a global diamond regulating body and risks misleading
Abuses by Police and Security Guards
Human Rights Watch interviewed 10 miners in July, 2011, who
were mauled by dogs and beaten by private security guards.
They reported that the majority of incidents involved
security guards working for Mbada Mining, a South African
and Zimbabwean owned joint venture. The guards were
identifiable by their black uniform. One miner said: "The
Mbada guards are the worst. They don't hesitate to set the
dogs upon you and they also beat you up." Human Rights
Watch was unable to interview Mbada Mining officials during
the mission, because they were not reachable by phone.
In one incident, private security guards working for Mbada
set four dogs on a handcuffed artisanal miner caught
digging for diamonds close to the fields mined by Mbada. "I
was attacked by all of them," said the man, who is in his
20s. "The dogs were biting me and I was screaming. It was
A clinical officer in the town close to the fields told
Human Rights Watch: "We have so many people coming to the
clinic with dog attacks. It's easy to tell they've been
bitten by dogs. You see the marks. During the week we treat
around five or more miners with dog bites. They tell us
that private security guards are the ones who set the dogs
upon them. They say that it's guards working for Mbada."
Human Rights Watch's research found that in many cases dogs
were used not just to restrain the victims, but apparently
deliberately to inflict as much injury as possible. One
miner told Human Rights Watch that security guards would
shout at the dogs to "attack" even if the miners had
surrendered or stopped running.
A provincial hospital clinical officer told Human Rights
Watch that he had seen at least 15 victims of dog attacks
since April. In one case, the victim died from his
injuries. Local miners and civil society activists reported
that the numbers of dog attack victims could be much
higher, but that the majority of the victims chose not to
go to the hospital to receive treatment as hospitals often
required a police report. Most victims preferred to recover
at home without medical treatment, increasing the risk that
their wounds would become infected.
Local civil society activists reported that police often
carry out joint operations with private security guards in
advance of visits to the fields by senior government
officials or foreign delegations. For example, police and
private security guards carried out operations to clear the
fields of diggers in advance of visits to the fields by
President Robert Mugabe in March and delegates from the
African Diamond Producers Association in April. Some of the
worst incidents occurred in the days before these visits.
A clinical officer at the main provincial hospital told
Human Rights Watch:
"From March to June we have had many people coming to the
hospital with gunshot wounds. They get shot at. Some of
them have head injuries, some shot in the legs, arms,
shoulders. We have one man who is in a coma. He was shot in
the head about three weeks ago. There were four of them who
were shot but one of them was serious because of the head
injury. He was brought in by the police from Chiadzwa. They
didn't explain who he was."
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