Interview With the State Dept. Special Advisor on Conflict Diamonds

Following the announcement of the Kimberley Process’ accord on Zimbabwe, the State Dept.’s special advisor on conflict diamonds, Brad Brooks-Rubin, generously took some time to speak with JCK from his hotel room in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I particularly recommend jewelers read his comments about sanctions.

Some highlights of our conversation:

How does the U.S. delegation feel about the recent agreement?

We abstained [from speaking on the agreement]. We continue to have concerns about Marange and want to see Marange diamonds benefit all Zimbabweans and be a positive force. We recognize there was a long-term stalemate in the KP and we chose to abstain to have the KP get past the impasse.

Marange diamonds are mined by companies connected to the Zimbabwe government, which means they are subject to sanctions from OFAC (the Office of Foreign Assets Control.) How should jewelers handle those diamonds?

I’d advise they exercise due diligence to know whether their diamonds come from Marange. Jewelers should go to the OFAC website and review what sanctions are in place. We will continue to enforce sanctions and trade restrictions against Zimbabwe. The trade has to understand for itself what those sanctions mean and undertake due diligence to not engage in any transaction with [the sanctioned] ZMDC [Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation].

(Editor’s note: For further guidance, OFAC recently sent a note to Martin Rapaport on this issue, which can be read at the end of this article.)

Does the U.S. intend to be the next KP chairman?

It’s still unclear. We are still assessing it and the selection committee hasn’t met yet.

In light of this deal, what do you see as the Kimberley Process’ future?

We continue to strongly support the KP. It’s an important initiative. We abstained to enable the KP to move past the stalemate and have its credibility restored. There are a lot of other discussions going on meant to move the KP forward. We recognize that we need to work with all stakeholders within the diamond trade on a broad range of efforts related to ethical and responsible sourcing, whether that’s through the KP or other efforts.

JCK News Director