HomeOpinion & AnalysisSundayView: Is the Kimberley Process geared for the task at hand?

SundayView: Is the Kimberley Process geared for the task at hand?

KP’s notable achievements in the past 10 years, include “pioneering a tripartite approach to solving international problems, and helping some of the countries that were worst-hit by diamond-fuelled wars to increase their official diamond revenues,” according to Global Witness campaign group on its website.

On the other hand, it is common knowledge that the KP has failed to effectively deal with the problem of Zimbabwe’s “blood diamonds” as the mines remain under military occupation and some people said to be working like slaves for too little or nothing. To compound the problem, the Treasury in Harare is not receiving proceeds from the diamond sales to the extent that striking civil servants have had to be content with a US $31 pay increase. Everyone is asking, so where is the money from diamond sales going?

The KP is hopping from one crisis to another, without a clear indication of when it will get out of the woods. First, was the controversial certification of Zimbabwe’s diamonds  as “conflict-free” by KP monitor Abbey Chikane who even went on to endorse the military occupation of Chiadzwa in spite of the alleged murder of 241 people in the area by the army using helicopters. The army should be replaced by a civilian police force.

Secondly, KP Chairman Yamba’s decision to declare Zimbabwe controversial diamonds as suitable for sale without a consensus almost ripped the organisation apart. The final straw was the release of seized Zimbabwean diamonds by the United Arab Emirates which has plunged the watchdog body in the mother of all crises.

It looks like the main cause of the KP’s “life- threatening” problems could be the overdue need to redefine “conflict “or “blood diamonds” in the contemporary context. It’s now clear that undemocratic regimes are capable of dealing in conflict diamonds to wage wars whereas at its formation, the KP’s definition of conflict diamonds  was confined to rebels only.

Not long ago, almost six thousand people signed an online petition calling for a complete reform of the international diamond monitor, the Kimberley Process over its decision to certify diamonds mined at Chiadzwa as “conflict-free” according to the Swradioafrica on September 24 2010. The KP’s decision caused an outrage as Zimbabwe went on to hold two auctions of what critics argued were “blood diamonds” and allegedly mined by entities led by people on the US and EU targeted sanctions list for rights abuses.

As is well-known that the Mugabe regime regards human rights and the rule of law as peripheral issues, it is justifiable to criticise the Kimberley Process for copping out on a crucial issue of human rights. Therefore, having failed to discharge its duty, the Kimberly Process is arguably not fit for purpose.

Unless it reforms urgently, the KP system risks a nasty and painful collapse leaving behind a trail of human rights outstanding issues blighting the commercial world of diamonds. The prognosis is not looking good for the Kimberly Process, if it remains shy to change.


About the Author

Clifford Mashiri is political analyst based in London.


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