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Anger over diamond stance

The Kimberley Process, an international certification scheme to prevent the sale of conflict diamonds, has been criticized after backing down on its threatened suspension of Zimbabwe.

The decision not to suspend the country was reached at Kimberley’s recent annual plenary and was made despite official statements nine months ago that it was ‘deeply concerned’ about the country’s rough diamond trade. After carrying out inspections it had also suggested that a ‘procedure to implement suspension of Zimbabwe from importing or exporting of rough diamonds’ was necessary (EP11, issue 4, p4).

However, Kimberley has instead decided to ask Zimbabwe to conduct a phased withdrawal of military personnel from mining areas, and to send in a monitor to examine shipments.

Many non-governmental organizations have been upset by the proposal. Human Rights Watch said the credibility of the Kimberley Process had been ‘damaged’ as a result, while Global Witness, a UK-based  NGO that helped set up the Process, said there were now grave concerns about its credibility. ‘It is too important to fail, and that is why we have not walked away from it yet... [But] are we endorsing a system that we cannot believe in any more?’

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