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Five years on: diamond trade still at risk from conflict diamonds

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Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada press release

Five years after its creation the Kimberley Process, the international diamond certification scheme, is still having difficulty stopping conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate trade. Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada are urging that more must be done to ensure that the process works effectively and is a credible mechanism that will prevent diamonds from ever again fuelling conflict. Diamonds continue to fuel conflict in eastern DRC and are also playing a role in the conflict in Cote D'Ivoire, two countries participating in the Kimberley Process.(1)

"The Kimberley Process has a long way to go before being able to ensure that diamonds can never again fund wars and human rights abuses," said Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada in a report issued on the eve of the Kimberley Process meeting in Moscow, Russia.(2)

The Process has helped to curb the problem of conflict diamonds, but more needs to be done. There are significant problems in the collection and analysis of diamond production and trade statistics, which are essential to the detection of conflict diamonds. Some countries are failing to submit required statistics on time, while other countries submit poor quality data, or figures that cannot be compared with other countries' data. Currently, Bulgaria, Central African Republic, China, Guinea, Ghana, Guyana, Laos, Lesotho, Malaysia and Venezuela have outstanding, incomplete or non-compliant data. Tanzania has submitted no statistical data.The United States does not submit data that can be compared with other countries' statistics, a serious problem because it is the largest diamond jewellery market. This threatens to undermine the entire scheme. So far there have been no consequences for countries that are non-compliant and are failing to meet the minimum requirements of the Kimberley Process. Technical and financial assistance should be provided to those participants that are not complying due to limited capacity and resources.

"There should be a standard procedure for removing a country from the Kimberley Process if they have failed to submit data after a 60 day period, and have been notified of this," said Ian Smillie from Partnership Africa Canada.

The monitoring system must also be strengthened to make sure that all countries' diamond control systems are thoroughly reviewed and that any weaknesses identified are tackled. It is very encouraging that 32 Kimberley Process Participants have received or will receive a review visit, but a further eight must still step forward; Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Laos, Korea, Namibia, Thailand, Venezuela.

Even when review visits have been carried out, there is not enough follow up to ensure that weaknesses identified in diamond control systems have been addressed and any recommendations implemented.

"Countries that have received review visits should report back to the Kimberley Process giving information about how recommendations are being taken up and implemented," said Corinna Gilfillan, lead campaigner at Global Witness. "Review visit reports should be made public to ensure transparency and credibility of the process."

It is crucial that a three year review of the Kimberley Process, scheduled to be completed by 2006, is carried out by a team of independent evaluators who can impartially assess how the process is working and identify concrete ways that it can be improved. There is currently a debate about whether the review should be internal or external.

"Given the millions of lives lost and devastation caused by conflict diamonds, it is important for Kimberley Process to have an objective, comprehensive external review backed by adequate resources and expertise," according to Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada's report.

For further information, please contact:
Corinna Gilfillan in Russia: +7 926 323 1239 or Dorothee Gizenga Ngolo on +1 613 237 6768

Internet: www.globalwitness.org or www.pacweb.org

Editor Notes:

(1) Official exports from Cote d'Ivoire were halted in 2003 but there are fears that other countries in West Africa, which are members of the Kimberley Process may be exporting diamonds that originate in Cote d'Ivoire.

(2)The Kimberley Process Intersessional Meeting is being held in Moscow from 7th - 9th June. Russia is the Chair of the Kimberley Process in 2005.