What the Marange Agreement Says (a.k.a. Still More on Zimbabwe)

Along the lines of Chaim’s column
the other day, I know a lot of people here have mixed feelings about the
current sales from Marange, and I would advise American retailers, particularly
those that bill themselves as sellers of “clean” diamonds, to be very careful
about buying Marange stones. (Here’s Jewelers of America’s guidance.)
But it’s important to note what this agreement includes, and what it does not.

This agreement allows for certain sales, based on the
progress that has been made. That is what occurred last week. But this issue
has not been settled, however much the industry might want it to be, and
despite what the press says. A recent article in the Christian Science Monitor
by Scott Baldauf said
the Kimberley Process had given Zim diamonds a “clean bill of health.”  And “Heartless
Stone” author Tom Zoellner wrote in the New York Post
that the agreement
“gave full approval to Mugabe to sell his diamonds.” Neither of those things
are true. The approval was not full. It was the opposite of full; it was
limited.  Zimbabwe is still sitting
on a huge stockpile of Marange stones, which it is not currently allowed to
sell. In additon, sales from other parts of Marange are still blocked.

The agreement handed out in St. Petersburg is posted here, but it’s a
little confusing, so let Nadim Kara of NGO Partnership Africa Canada explain
how it will work:

It’s important to be clear that the
KP did not allow Zimbabwe to sell diamonds from the Marange fields.  It
allowed Zimbabwe to sell diamonds produced between May 28, 2010 and September
1, 2010 from two tiny concessions (run by companies Mbada and Canadile) that
make up 3% of the total diamondiferous area in Marange.   

It’s also important to remember that exports of diamonds from other parts of Marange
are still banned until the KP has
evidence that the way diamond mining is unfolding in these parts of the country
is in compliance with KPCS minimum requirements.  A KP Review Mission just
completed an inspection of the Marange diamond fields over the course of the
last seven days (the Mission ended on Sunday August 15).  The information
from this Mission will help inform future decisions by the KP about whether or
not to allow Zimbabwe to export stockpiled diamonds as well as future diamond production.

The KP Civil Society Coalition (which includes NGOs that care a great deal
about human rights) made the decision to agree to limited exports from the
Mbada and Canadile concession in exchange for two things:

1.      a guarantee that a Review Mission would be
allowed into the country (something Zimbabwe had agreed to in November 2009,
but which it had been resisting over the course of this year)

2.      the formal inclusion of civil society
organizations into the work of the KP Monitor, who had been put in place in
November 2009 to assess Zimbabwe’s progress on meeting KP requirements.
 The addition of civil society groups will allow for a more intense and
more robust system for monitoring whether Zimbabwe is managing its diamond
resources responsibly.

Going forward, the KP Civil Society Coalition is working hard to ensure that
human rights related language is included explicitly in KP documents, to avoid
situations in the future where KP members fail to acknowledge the role that the
KP can play in promoting respect for human rights within its sphere of
influence:  the diamond sector.  The Coalition is working closely
with human rights organizations to develop and advance this language for
presentation to the KP at its upcoming Plenary meeting in Jerusalem in November

I should note that he, like all the NGOs, had reservations
about the agreement, and the path that got us there. But the facts
are the facts, and it is not right to describe it as a “blank check.” Here’s more in the PAC “conflict
diamond” newsletter

In addition to the provisions for a Review Mission, the JWP
includes several mechanisms which the WGM can use to assess Zimbabwe’s
progress, including the appointment of the KP Monitor for Marange, Abbey
Chikane.The Monitor’s role is to assess Zimbabwe’s progress towards
implementing the JWP. In recognition, however, of concerns about the
credibility of the KP Monitor … the St. Petersburg agreement also includes an
enhancement to the institution of the Monitor in the form of a civil society
focal point. The civil society focal point (drawn from Zimbabwean civil society
groups) will collect civil society perspectives on Zimbabwe’s progress in
implementing the JWP. [Ed: This
is now headed by arrested NGO Farai Maguwu

Throughout these negotiations Zimbabwe has repeatedly emphasized
the importance of allowing diamond exports so that it can generate revenue for
social and economic development. Considering that Minister of Finance Tendai
Biti has complained that the national treasury has not received a single dollar
from Marange diamonds, the onus is now on Zimbabwe to demonstrate how revenues
from diamond exports are being used to support human development. This will be
a good test of how sincere the military and political elites linked to
President Mugabe are about allowing all Zimbabweans to benefit from this
immense resource.

Well said.  It
is indeed a test, though some early
signs are not encouraging
. But there is still time for the authorities in Zimbabwe get this right …

JCK News Director