Kimberley Process Chairman’s Decision Sparks New Uproar

 

In a decision that has caused considerable controversy in the Kimberley Process ranks, KP chairman Mathieu Yamba on June 23 sent
out a statement
decreeing that two mines in the Marange region of Zimbabwe
can resume diamond exports despite a
lack of consensus
among participants at the recent KP Intersessional in
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

In an explanatory
note
, Yamba called his Notice a “compromise document.” However, sources
said that, while most participants endorsed the proposal, the United States,
Canada, and the European Union all registered objections. Decisions in the
Kimberley Process require absolute consensus.

The U.S. State Department posted a statement June 24 stressing that, in its view, the issue has not yet been settled and it was “deeply disappointed” by events.

“Contrary to some reporting, the Kinshasa Intersessional did not reach a consensus text,” it said. “The Chair has circulated a text to participants which did not attract consensus … We believe that work toward a solution must continue, and that until consensus is reached, exports from Marange should not proceed.”

Yamba, a representative of the Democratic Republic of Congo who caused a similar controversy with
an “administrative decision” on Zimbabwe in March
, did not respond to a
request for comment from JCK.

While just about all participants agreed in principle
that the two mines should be allowed to export, the NGOs and their allies felt
the proposal ultimately endorsed by Yamba did not include safeguards on Zimbabwe’s future behavior.

The proposal does “not credibly address the question of how
to protect local NGOs monitoring and reporting to the KP on conditions in the
area,” said Alfred Brownell from Green Advocates, Liberia, in a statement. “Any
new agreement that the KP signs up to regarding Marange diamonds must address
directly key issues such as the involvement of soldiers in diamond mining,
rampant smuggling and beatings by security forces.”

The statement also complained the deal “fails to safeguard
the role of Zimbabwean civil society organizations seeking to monitor
conditions on the ground.”

The NGO coalition expressed its dissatisfaction with the
meeting by walking out at its conclusion, in what it called “a vote of no
confidence.”

“There is a significant, and widening, gap between how the
Kimberley Process presents itself, and what it is actually achieving,” said a
statement posted by NGO Global Witness. “Until this is addressed, it is
difficult to see how civil society organizations can justify active
participation in the scheme.” 

Despite the controversy, one source told JCK that an agreement was “close” and that further negotiations were expected. The State Dept. statement said “we remain ready to work with the Kimberley Process Chair and others to find a solution.”

But speaking for the NGO coalition, Alan Martin, research director of Partnership Africa Canada, said that NGOs have grown frustrated with all the talking.

“This has gone beyond negotiations,” said Martin. “It’s about the Kimberley Process growing a spine, and getting Zimbabwe to do what it agreed to as a sovereign nation.”

For further background on this issue, see “Kimberley
Process: The Scheme is Over?”

JCK News Director