“General Agreement” Toward a Kimberley Process Deal on Zimbabwe

I can confirm what has been printed elsewhere: “A lot of
progress” has been made toward a final Kimberley Process agreement regarding
Zimbabwe. However, I am also told things remain “in flux,” with procedural and
other questions still popping up. Many participants, who have dealt with this
issue nonstop for months now, sigh that there could be always be another
snag. Ultimately, the final decision will come from the new KP chair. But the
momentum clearly seems to be pointing toward a deal.

Assuming we do get an agreement, no one comes out of this
particularly happy or looking good. The NGOs are discussing whether to distance
themselves from the deal (though they likely won’t block it), and Zimbabwe has
been reluctant to sign on (though it is arguable whether its approval is
required). The biggest thing that any agreement has going for it is that
everyone is just so exhausted with arguing about Zimbabwe—and mindful of other, real challenges ahead—that
they just want to get the whole thing over with. 

This has not been the KP’s finest hour—the organization
now seems permanently politicized, and the constant stalemates were embarrassing.
And yet, some are also calling it a victory. Zimbabwe was banned from exporting
Marange diamonds, with the exception of the two shipments it made during the
summer, for more than a year. That hurt the country considerably. Perhaps the next time a nation considers acting violently in a diamond area it will keep that in mind. In addition, the Joint Work Plan, the object of considerable derision when it was enacted in November 2009, proved stronger than anyone dreamed. 

Moreover, Zimbabwe has engaged with the KP and not sold its diamonds “outside” the system. The KP is
now one of the few international organizations that has gotten Zimbabwe to (basically) comply with its dictates. And the industry has also stayed within the KP framework—sometimes
at considerable financial cost.

Still, while I feel the KP needs to move on, it’s hard to be
happy about Marange being open for business. There remains the
question, which is outside the KP’s mandate, of where the profits from these
diamonds are going; all indications are that they will prop up the Mugabe
regime. Until we get some assurance on that front, diamond retailers should
think twice about whether to sell these stones. 

As the KP begins to shift its focus to human rights,
disputes centered around specific countries will inevitably spring up
from time to time. What the smarter minds in the KP need to figure out is how
to develop a specific procedure to deal with situations like this, so these
kind of long, drawn-out, all-consuming soap operas can be avoided in the future. 

UPDATE: Former KP chair Boaz Hirsch sent out the following letter Jan. 18 (yesterday):

I am pleased to announce that the
“Jerusalem Text” as revised and circulated to the Kimberley Process (KP) Participants for their
approval on December 29th, 2010, was approved by
written procedure as 17 Participants have approved the proposed Administrative
Decision … Three (3) more approvals were received,
but after the deadline expired.

Several procedural questions were raised and we
have referred them to the KP Chair, in order to examine and see what steps, if
any, are required in order to settle that matter in an amicable manner.

Once more, I would like to express my gratitude
to the KP Chair, the Honorable Mr. Yamba, for enabling our initiative to be
concluded, despite the continuation of the written procedure 17 days into the
Chairmanship of the DRC.

I am pleased that the KP spirit, to find a
solution based on consensus continues. We know that the only way to move
forward in the issue of exports of rough diamonds from Marange, is based on
consensus and agreement and we are pleased that this could have been achieved.

I would like to state that it was a pleasure to
work with you during the past year and I wish you a success in the further
build-up of this truly important process to the benefit of all our communities.

JCK News Director