Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition Appoints African Chair

The Civil Society Coalition of the Kimberley Process announced that the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) will now head the umbrella group.

ZELA is the first African association to head the coalition, which represents the nine governmental organizations that participate in the certification scheme. The group made the decision following a recent meeting in Antwerp, Belgium.

In December, IMPACT, the Canadian nongovernmental organization that had previously headed the Civil Society Coalition, resigned from the Kimberley Process. IMPACT was formerly known as Partnership Africa Canada and helped found the certification scheme in 2000. IMPACT’s departure followed the Coalition’s decision to boycott the Kimberley Process in 2016, after the United Arab Emirates ascended to the chairmanship.

In a statement, the Civil Society Coalition said it was frustrated that the agenda it has long championed had been mostly thwarted.

“The Coalition is also greatly concerned by continued human rights violations which include killings, torture, displacements, and environmental impacts directly linked to diamond mining activities,” said a statement released by the CSC. “Consequently, the coalition is deeply concerned that the Kimberley Process continues to ignore the human cost of diamond mining and trade. Unfortunately, the concerns raised by civil society, a key pillar of the KP, have been largely ignored by KP participants and industry.”

CSC said it is “hopeful” that the European Union, which is chairing the Kimberley Process this year, will champion the certification scheme’s much-delayed reform agenda, including the long-sought-after widening of the definition of conflict diamonds.

The Civil Society Coalition also “reaffirmed that its core mandate in both the KP and as relates to broader diamond governance is to defend the rights of local communities affected by diamond mining activities,” according to its statement.

The Coalition also met with the head of the World Diamond Council and the Kimberley Process chair prior to its meeting.

(Image courtesy of the Kimberley Process)

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JCK News Director