Civil Society Groups respond to KP Chair’s disparaging comments

Civil Society Groups including members of KP Civil Society Coalition and others outside of it issued a joint statement responding to Kimberley Process (KP) current Chair - UAE's Ahmed Bin Sulayem's disparaging comments, which came after UAE's questionable practices in the diamond trade were raised by several organizations.

[Image Courtesy: IDEX Online]

The curses of mined diamonds, whether conflict financing, human rights abuses, money laundering, tax evasions, forced & child labor, environmental destruction or terrorism, are well known. Since 2003, with the revelation of serious conflicts fueled by the role of mined diamonds across Central & West Africa, several civil society organizations sprung to action that led to multi-stakeholder co-operation involving governments, NGOs, diamond miners and other players in the diamond industry and creation of Kimberley Process (KP) to curb the serious issue of Blood Diamonds.

Amnesty International published a report revealing not only the still prevalent existence of conflict diamonds in some African countries but also their proliferation in the global pipeline through some diamond trading centers including Dubai. Similar allegations were also made against Dubai’s questionable diamond practices by others. However, KP’s current Chair – UAE’s Ahmed Bin Sulayem took offensive to such reports and instead of formulating methods to solve the issues, severely criticized civil society groups making disparaging comments against them at KP’s mid-year meeting.

Several organizations inside the KP Civil Society Coalition and outside the KP entirely, recently issued a joint statement responding to KP chair’s comments and highlighting civil society groups’ important work with regards to identifying and raising grave concerns in the diamond industry and trying to address those concerns, including:

  • Conflict diamonds: “Preventing diamonds from fueling violence and conflict of any kind or funding abusive government forces…”
  • Human rights: “Ensuring companies in the diamond industry are legally required to meet their responsibility to respect all human rights throughout their global operations…”
  • Transparency: “Supporting greater revenue and data transparency across the diamond supply chain…”
  • Tax evasion: “Addressing in both producing countries and trading centres the undervaluation of diamond and links to tax evasion and transfer mispricing”
  • Money laundering: “Addressing the potential of the diamond supply chain to be used for the purposes of money laundering, corruption, or threat finance…”
  • Child labor: “Taking effective steps to eliminate forced or child labor in diamond mining or manufacturing…”
  • Artisanal development: “Promoting sustainable and meaningful economic development throughout the diamond sector and particularly in artisanal producing countries…”
  • KP enforcement: “Continuing to expand on efforts within the KP that are rooted in productive multi-stakeholder collaboration, such as working to improve KP enforcement and strengthened internal controls in manufacturing, trading, and producing countries, including in regions like West Africa and the Central African Republic”

The joint statement mentions that these issues have also been sounded by the banking sector, media and other organizations in past. The statement acknowledges that some individual stakeholders in the diamond sector ‘have taken positive steps’, but the ‘industry and governments have a long way to go’ to address the mentioned issues, also indicating that though KP serves as an important purpose but ‘it ignores abusive government forces, lacks transparency and places no responsibility on companies to investigate their supply chains’.

The joint statement was issued by representatives of following 14 organizations:

  • Amnesty International – London, UK
  • Enough Project – Washington DC, US
  • Global Witness – London, UK
  • Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association – Harare, Zimbabwe
  • Center for Natural Resources Governance – Harare, Zimbabwe
  • IPIS (International Peace Information Service) – Antwerpen, Belgium
  • GAERN – Kinshasa, DRC
  • CENADEP – Kinshasa, DRC
  • RELUFA – Yaounde, Cameroon
  • CECIDE – Conakry, Guinea
  • GRPIE – Abidjan, Cote d’Ivorie
  • Green Advocates Liberia – Monrovia, Liberia
  • Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD) – Freetown, Sierra Leone
  • Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) – Ottawa, Canada

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