‘Blood diamonds’ watchdog hits stalemate on Zimbabwe export

Last week’s four-day annual plenary meeting of the diamond-regulating Kimberley Process (KP)failed to find a solution to the ongoing issue of diamond exports from the Marange region.

By RON FRIEDMAN
November 8, 2010 04:33
2 minute read.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe Zimbabwe 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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Last week’s four-day annual plenary meeting of the diamond-regulating Kimberley Process (KP), held in Jerusalem, failed to find a solution to the ongoing issue of diamond exports from the Marange region of Zimbabwe.

Boaz Hirsch, the chairman of the KP, said on Sunday that, “Despite rigorous negotiations, regrettably the KP members were not able to bridge the gaps among them and were unsuccessful in their efforts to reach an agreement regarding the contentious issue of the Marange diamonds.”

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In 2002, the United Nations Security Council launched the KP to deal with the problem of conflict diamonds, also known as ‘blood’ diamonds, which have traditionally been described as diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance armed conflicts aimed at undermining legitimate governments.

But for the past two years the No. 1 item on the KP’s agenda has been to find ways to deal with Zimbabwe, a member nation in the process.

Human rights groups have repeatedly accused the Zimbabwean government of human rights violations in the mining of rough diamonds in the country’s Marange diamond fields and have called for the KP to remove Zimbabwe from its membership and ban it from exporting the Marange diamonds.

Last week’s meeting, which was attended by hundreds of delegates representing more than 70 countries, as well as human rights organizations and diamond industry groups, was not able to reach the necessary consensus agreement regarding the Marange exports and as a result, the plenary meeting was adjourned without making any progress.



“We are, however, committed to reach a consensus that will enable Zimbabwe to restore its diamond exports within the KP framework. Achieving such a consensus is a formidable task, yet it is a task that lies at the heart of the KP. We will relentlessly continue pursuing an agreement,” said Hirsch.

In light of the stalemate, Zimbabwean Mines Minister Obert Mpofu said at the conference’s closing that the country would sell diamonds from the Marange mines immediately.

“Zimbabwe will sell diamonds without any conditions,” he said. “There is no opposition to that.”

A report on the situation in Zimbabwe is being debated. According to Hirsch, the report “has found Zimbabwe to be compliant in certain areas.

“In other areas, though, full compliance has not been achieved. It is still too early to say what action may be taken,” he added.

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