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Sierra Leone News: “Kimberley Process not eeffective for responsible diamond governance” -IMPACT

In 2007, civil society organizations came together to form the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition aimed at amplifying their work. The Coalition has been able to successfully raise concerns as a coordinated group including violations and recommendations to improve the diamond supply chain.
One of the Kimberley monitoring civil society organizations, the Canadian-based non-profit organization IMPACT (formerly Partnership Africa Canada), has on Friday 15 December 2017, announced their ‘withdrawal’ from the Kimberley Process. Their withdrawal came days after the Kimberley Plenary meeting in Brisbane, Australia from December 9-14 during which members were to discuss and adopt a five-year reform cycle.
According to the Executive Director of IMPACT, Joanne Lebert, in a press release from their website, told Kimberley Process members that consumers are being sold something that is not real. “The Kimberley Process (KP) and its Certificate has lost its legitimacy. The internal controls that governments conform to do not provide the evidence of traceability and due diligence needed to ensure a clean, conflict-free, and legal diamond supply chain. Consumers have been given a false confidence about where their diamonds come from. This should stops now.”
In December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution A/RES/55/56 to stem the role of diamonds in fueling conflict, which led to series of meetings between governments, civil society, and the diamond industry, known as the ‘Kimberley Process’ (KP).
According to a definition adopted by the United Nations and the KP, conflict diamonds are rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance their military activities aimed to undermine legitimate governments. Civil society groups consider the KP’s definition as outdated. Smuggling, tax evasion, human rights abuses, and violence perpetrated by other groups such as governments or other actors must be included.
“We at IMPACT are announcing our organization’s withdrawal from the Kimberley Process. Members of the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition, IMPACT had called for an xpanded conflict diamond definition. The definition currently in use limits “conflict diamonds” to only those used by rebel groups to finance their activities to overthrow governments, and remains silent on abuses perpetrated by governments themselves or private security firms.”
The Country Director for the Network Movement for Justice and Development Country Manager, Abu Brima, said, “From our point of view the reluctance by government to adopt the reforms was never in place.” He said the withdrawal of IMPACT is a wake up call that may result to withdrawal of all the civil society members from the process if their reforms are not reached.
Brima said the impact of CSO’s withdrawal would mount pressure on the International committee and send a signal that government and their Kimberley process are not ‘legitimate and credible’ pointing that it is key to make sure diamonds don’t influence conflicts. He said they are against “blood diamond” despite the fact that there are no wars but there are human rights abuses in those Kimberley operating countries by the companies violating standards and governments are failing to hold them accountable.
The NMJD Director said they cannot go further with a process that is not operating legitimately hence it will put the entire process in bad record because natural resource exploitation should be clean, transparent and accountable to standards.
Civil society also called for reforms to reinforce internal controls at national and regional levels to strengthen traceability and minimize illicit trade.
“We have come to the conclusion that the Kimberley Process has lost its will to be an effective mechanism for responsible diamond governance,” said Lebert. “We have also noted a growing tolerance for personalized attacks against civil society members of the Kimberley Process and attempts to undermine the independence and credibility of the Civil Society Coalition.”
It could be recalled that IMPACT’s research into the conflict in Sierra Leone in 2000 was the first report to draw the link between diamonds and conflict financing, leading to international attention and action on conflict diamonds. In 2003, IMPACT was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for its work to end the trade of conflict diamonds. MK/18/12/17
By Mohamed Kabba
Twitter: @chikakabba
Tuesday December 19, 2017.

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