No Valentine for blood diamond regulations as US chair of the Kimberley Process limits scope of reforms 14Feb12 February 14, 2012
Presss Release by Sean Clinton - 12 February 2012
In her first conference call with journalists since becoming chair of the Kimberley Process (KP), US Ambassador, Gillian A. Milovanovic has moved to limit the scope of 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.”
The KP was supposed to end the trade in blood diamonds – diamonds that fund human rights violations – but the narrow definition of a “conflict diamond” adopted by the KP allows diamonds that fund human rights violations by government forces to evade the regulations. As a result, last November, diamonds from the Marange area of Zimbabwe where government forces stand accused of gross human rights violations, including killing 200 people, were certified as KP compliant and allowed to contaminate the global market.
Human rights organisations walked out of a KP meting in Kinshasa last June and boycotted the annual plenary meeting in November over the failure of the KP to agree a reform of the definition of a “conflict diamond” that would include diamonds that fund human rights violations by government forces. In the wake of the KP decision last November to allow the export of blood-tainted diamonds from Zimbabwe, Global Witness, a London-based human rights organisation that was to the fore in bringing blood diamonds to public attention in the 90s withdrew from the KP that it helped to establish in 2003. While other human rights organisations remain inside the KP for the time being, Partnership Africa Canada has indicated that it does so in the expectation that tangible reforms of the KP definition of a “conflict diamond” will be agreed in 2012, and that the polishing industry, which currently evades the regulations, will be brought into the scheme.
Therein stands the elephant in the KP room. Israel, a dominant player in the global diamond industry, is one of the world’s leading centres for cutting and polishing diamonds. The Israeli military stands accused by the UN Human Rights Council of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during the three week assault on Gaza which killed more than 1400 people, including over 300 children in the winter of 2008/2009. In evidence to the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, Israeli political economist, Shir Hever, testified that the diamond industry in Israel generates about $1 billion in funding for the Israeli military/security industry each year and when someone buys a diamond exported from Israel some of the money ends up funding the Israeli military.
US Ambassador Milovanovic will no doubt try to prevent any reform of the KP definition of a “conflict diamond” that would ensnare Israel’s diamond industry. However, human rights activists are upping the ante and last weekend were on the street in Hatton Garden, London – one of the world’s foremost diamond-trading hubs – to raise awareness with shoppers and jewellers about the trade in diamonds that fund human rights violations by government forces in Israel and Zimbabwe. Further actions to alert shoppers prior to Valentine’s Day are scheduled to take place in Dublin, Ireland on Saturday. The ethical provenance of all diamonds remains suspect as long as jewellers continue to facilitate the trade in diamonds that fund gross human rights violations by government forces.
Global Palestine Solidarity (GPS)
GPS is an internet-based global network of human rights activists who campaign to highlight the trade in Israeli diamonds – a major source of funding for the nuclear-armed Israeli military regime.
1. – http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/texttrans/20…jixCN