More WikiLeaked Cables on Diamonds

I recently became aware of a site that allows you search WikiLeaked diplomatic cables—and, as one would expect, one finds quite a bit about diamonds.

Now, remember, these cables were never supposed to be made public, and certainly controversy has arisen about what has been said in them in the past. They just represent one person’s observations, and not the Gospel Truth. But there are some noteworthy nuggets here: 

– In a cable from 2004, Nicky Oppenheimer met with some American diplomats and raised an intriguing proposal…

Oppenheimer took the opportunity of this meeting with U.S. officials to lobby for De Beers’ idea of using smart cards and reading devices to register small-scale miners and traders in Africa who currently fall outside the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. Oppenheimer believes that the system could connect miners to national ministries, help track regional diamond trade, and even provide a vehicle for payment. He estimated that some USD 700 million in small-scale diamond production were falling outside the Kimberley Process, but believed that most of this was the result of legitimate small scale mining. Oppenheimer thought that smart cards could form the basis of a “Kimberley II.” Kimberley certification would mean that De Beers could enter these local rough diamond markets and pay up to six times more than local traders were paying the small-scale miners now. 

– Here is certainly an interesting cable from 2007… 

The former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Dubai Diamond Exchange (DDE), Noora Jamsheer, expressed concern to ConGenoff about the integrity of the [United Arab Emirates’] adherence to the Kimberly Process (KP) to stem the trade in conflict diamonds. Jamsheer resigned her position with the DDE rather than ignore suspicious diamond shipments. She also alleged that she was offered “commissions” to overlook shipments that otherwise might be of KP concern. Separate from her discussion of the DDE, she  voiced her suspicion that Venezuelan diamonds were being used to finance Iran’s support of insurgents in Iraq and Hizballah in Lebanon. 

– This cable, from December 2009, shows the heated environment in which the Kimberley Process operates, and was probably a preview of the politicization of the Process:

In previous years, the [General Assembly] plenary consideration of the conflict diamond resolution, which acknowledges the UN’s support for the independent Kimberley Process (KP), has been noncontroversial.  

[This year]. Iran and Syria pushed for using the phrase “takes note” when referring to Israel assuming the KP chair, instead of “welcomes.” (NOTE: Historically, the new chairs and vice-chairs have been “welcomed”; Israel agreed in 2008 to join consensus on a resolution with the words “takes note” when it assumed the vice-chair position). …

While the resolution was finally adopted by consensus, there were lingering animosities over the Syrian politicization of an issue in which it has no national interest, as Syria is not a KP member.…

– Finally, this one from 2010, raises some troubling questions about the two now-cleared-to-export mines in Marange…

Since approximately November 2009, two companies have been working in Chiadzwa, Mbada Diamond Mining Company and Canadile Miners. There are reports that both companies have forced their employees to work extended hours, including weekends, while refusing to pay overtime. Mbada and Canadile reportedly call on soldiers to “discipline” their employees with beatings when they are suspected of stealing or do not meet their work duties.

Other cables of note: 

Belgium: Federal Police Diamond Officers Say Dubai Cooperation Key for Kimberley Process

Diamonds in the Car: Deleterious to Development. (A pretty grim picture of the diamond sector in the Central African Republic) 

Mixed Reactions to Blood Diamond Movie in Sierra Leone

Antwerp Diamond Official Alleges Chavez Exporting Diamonds to Fund Military

Illegal Trafficking Arrests Rock Kimberley Process (Brazil)

 

JCK News Director