Kimberley Process Update: What if a Chairman Gave a Directive—And Nobody Listened?

Some updates to last week’s item on the Kimberley Process chairman Mathieu Yamba’s now-infamous “unilateral directive” on Zimbabwe:  

– As anxious as the diamond industry is to get this Zimbabwe
saga over with, I couldn’t find anyone involved with the KP who approved of
what the chairman did. (I know my commenters disagree.) 

The industry quickly closed ranks, with the World
Diamond Council, De Beers
, and JA/DMIA
issuing statements warning people against buying Marange diamonds. (De Beers’
statement, not meant for publication, was actually the weakest, but the DTC is
one of the few entities involved with real power. And given it’s sightholder
selection time, clients may not want to rock the boat. The NGOs have been oddly
quiet, at least publicly, barring this one
from Human Rights Watch.) 

The upshot is that, with all the behind-the-scenes
chaos, plus threats from the State
. and others, no official sales from Marange seem to have taken place. Which is remarkable, and heartening. It’s
almost as if the chairman’s order never happened. 

– Of course, it did happen, and all sides seem to say last
week’s hub-bub “woke people up.” There is now hope that the Chairman’s administrative decision, and related issues regarding Zimbabwe, will be discussed at the
upcoming WFDB meeting in Dubai. That is the hope, anyway; there are no firm
plans for this at press time. The irony is, if there is an agreement on
Zimbabwe, it will probably resemble the general outlines of what Yamba wanted;
he just jumped the gun.

– Some are hoping that this latest controversy will help
reform the KP decision-making process. I agree with those who say the “absolute
consensus” model has probably reached the end of its usefulness. The KP would
certainly benefit from participants having to lobby each other, instead of relying
on a few friendly governments to block what they don’t like. 

Another needed reform is third party monitoring of KP sites,
to avoid situations like you had on last summer’s Marange
monitoring mission
, where it seemed like some participants had their minds
made up before they even got there. This probably won’t settle all the
arguments: People will still the quarrel over the monitor’s “terms of reference,” and denounce any
decision they disagree with. But it may be a start.

All this assumes that the KP won’t be totally blown apart
over these constant battles. And sad to say, that is still a possibility.


UPDATE: Yamba speaks! (As does Global Witness.) Despite what Yamba says here, I am told there are efforts to make the decision more consensus-based. And this is the first time I’ve heard the World Diamond Council called a tool of the U.S. government.

JCK News Director