Kimberley in Chaos

There is a lot happening with the Kimberley Process—and
unfortunately, not much of it is good:

– For one, there is the news,
which I can confirm, that the United States’ application to be vice chair was
rejected by Zimbabwe and Namibia. (The
KP requires total consensus.) This leaves the KP without a vice chair for the
first time in its history.

– Zimbabwe has now
publicly rejected
the “Brussels agreement,” which could
bring the talks over an agreement with Zimbabwe (which have gone on, God help
us all, for over a year) back to square one. In a way, this is a win for the diamond industry, particularly here in the United States, which doesn’t have to suffer the reputational blow that would come from making a deal with Mugabe. But in the long run, this could be a very big loss.

The country’s leadership seems to have called the numerous bluffs that have
been thrown its way, given the increasing reports of Marange diamonds leaving
the country illegally. Eventually, one hopes, any smugglers will be caught (as this one was), and the
smuggling routes will be shut down. Certainly, Zimbabwe’s antagonists in the KP
have indicated they plan to be extremely vigilant. But in the meantime,
Zimbabwe’s elites may profit handsomely, perhaps even more than they would have
from KP-endorsed sales. However non-transparent the country’s “official”
diamond sales have been, the proceeds from smuggling will be even more so.

– Even the Kimberley Process’ Facebook page isn’t going
well. It was recently shut down after it devolved into a debate about Israel.

Basically, until the parties involved can come together and recommit themselves to making the KP work and acting cooperatively, it is hard to be optimistic about this organization’s longterm future.

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JCK News Director