Action Item: Send a letter to the Kimberly Process Chair calling for all diamonds that fund gross human rights violations to classed as conflict diamonds and banned
The US chair of discredited Kimberley Process (KP) – a UN backed regulatory system established to end the trade in blood diamonds – is seeking responses from KP Participants and Observers to a questionnaire about a review of the KP regulations.
This presents a rare opportunity to voice your concerns about the KP’s narrow definition of a “conflict diamond” and other weaknesses in the KP regulations which facilitate the trade in diamonds from Israel and Zimbabwe that are funding gross human rights violations.
We need you to act immediately by emailing the KP chair and Ad Hoc Committee set up to oversee a review of the KP and impress on them the necessity to amend the definition of a “conflict diamond” so that all diamonds, including cut and polished diamonds from Israel are no longer allowed to evade the human rights criteria applied to rough diamonds used by rebels.
A sample letter is included below together with instructions.
Israel is one of the main beneficiaries of the global diamond trade with gross diamond exports approximating $20 billion p.a., bringing a net benefit to the Israeli economy of about $10 billion each year. Evidence given to the Russell Tribunal on Palestine indicated that the diamond industry in Israel generates about $1 billion p.a. in funding for the Israeli military/security industry.
The Kimberley Process regulations were established by the World Diamond Council in collaboration with NGOs in response to growing public concern about the trade in diamonds that fund gross human rights violations. As the public began to associate diamonds more with bloodshed and war crimes rather than with love and romance the industry was forced to act to shore up the flagging diamond brand image that the industry had established over many decades at great expense.
However, instead of banning all diamonds that fund gross human rights violations, the industry adopted a definition of a “conflict diamond” which ensured that the regulations only applied to “rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to fund violence against legitimate governments”. The trade in diamonds that fund gross human rights violations by government forces evades regulation completely. Diamonds that are a major source of funding for military regimes in Israel and Zimbabwe are allowed to contaminate the global diamond market even though both regimes stand accused of gross human rights violations, including war crimes and possible crimes against humanity in the case of Israel. Not only that, these blood diamonds are sold to unsuspecting consumers worldwide as conflict free diamonds – a totally false and grossly misleading characterisation.
As a result of the failure of the KP to prevent the trade in blood diamonds, Global Witness, a London-based NGO which helped to found the KP, withdrew in December 2011 saying “The Kimberley Process’s refusal to evolve and address the clear links between diamonds, violence and tyranny has rendered it increasingly outdated. Nearly nine years after the Kimberley Process was launched, the sad truth is that most consumers still cannot be sure where their diamonds come from, nor whether they are financing armed violence or abusive regimes”.
While some NGOs remain inside the KP, for the moment, Partnership Africa Canada, and the others in the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition (KPCSC) stated they “will work with the reform process in the year ahead, but expect to see tangible results by the end of 2012.” The KPCSC stated that “their full participation in the KP is dependant on the adoption of substantial and sufficient reforms”. One of the reforms they want to see is the inclusion of the cutting and polishing sector in the KP oversight and statistics.
Despite the glaring inadequacies of the existing KP regulations the new chair of the KP in 2012, US Ambassador, Gillian A. Milovanovic, has moved to limit the scope on any reform of the KP definition of a “conflict diamond”. Ambassador Milovanovic said: “I do not foresee within the Kimberley Process, per se, going beyond the question of rough diamonds.”
This, and other statements made by Ambassador Milovanovic since becoming chair of the KP, clearly indicates that the KP has no intention of bringing cut and polished diamonds within its remit – a move that would ensnare Israel’s burgeoning diamond industry. If this situation is allowed to stand, diamonds from Israel that are funding gross human rights violations in Palestine will continue to evade regulation and contaminate the global diamond market.
We must use this opportunity to make it clear to the diamond industry that this double-standard in relation to cut and polished diamonds will not be accepted by civil society and that any attempt to whitewash the trade in Israeli blood diamonds will fail, causing further severe damage to the already discredited Kimberley Process and to the global diamond industry.
The public can have no confidence in the Kimberley Process system of self-regulation designed and enforced by the vested interests in the diamond industry. Civil society can not allow those who have most to gain from the trade in blood diamonds to continue the charade which sees jewellers on the high streets of cities worldwide continuing to profit from the trade in blood diamonds which they deceitfully claim are conflict free.
Further info at http://www.ipsc.ie/campaigns/diamond-boycott
Please send the following email, or one of your own composition, to the KP Chair and members of the Ad Hoc Committee before March 15 to firstname.lastname@example.org as well as email@example.com
Important Note: – In order to assist us monitor the effectiveness of this campaign, please put “Kimberley Process Reform” in the subject line and BCC your email to firstname.lastname@example.org
For the attention of the Chair of the Kimberley Process Ambassador Gillian A. Milovanovic and the Ad Hoc Committee on KPCS Review.
Madam Ambassador, distinguished members of the AD Hoc Committee on KPCS Review,
I wish to bring to your attention a number of points in relation to the proposed reform of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KP).
- The No.1 concern and main priority for the public is that diamonds should not be helping to fund gross human rights violations by any individual, group or government at any point in the supply pipe from mine to retail.
- The KP definition of a “conflict diamond” must be broadened so all diamonds that fund gross human rights violations are classed as “conflict diamonds” and banned. If the KP fails to do so it will be endorsing the continuation of the existing diamond-apartheid where some diamonds that fund gross human rights violations are classed as “conflict diamonds” while others are labelled conflict free. The failure of the KP to address this glaring anomaly in the existing regulations has the potential to cause irreparable damage to the credibility of the KP and further undermine public confidence in the ethical provenance of all diamonds, thereby posing a serious threat to the future of the diamond industry which is dependent on consumers believing that diamonds are objects of love and romance rather than objects of bloodshed and cruelty.
- While the scope of the KP is presently limited to regulating the trade in rough diamonds, jewellers have used the regulations to claim that diamonds which are KP compliant are conflict free – a completely false and grossly misleading assertion given that the KP does not prevent the trade I diamonds that fund human rights violations by government forces.. It is incumbent on the KP to ensure that jewellers do not make false and exaggerated claims about the scope and efficacy of the KP regulations. The “System of Warranties” introduced by the World Diamond Council (WDC) purports to “extend the effectiveness of the KP beyond the import and export of rough diamonds” and gives the misleading impression that cut and polished diamonds are conflict free, even when they are know to be generating revenue for regimes guilty of war crimes, as is the case with diamonds crafted in Israel. The KP should prohibit all such false and exaggerated claims by the WDC.