from Africa in Transition

Global Witness Leaves Kimberley Process

December 8, 2011

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Sub-Saharan Africa

Zimbabwe

Human Rights

An illegal diamond dealer from Zimbabwe displays diamonds for sale in Manica, near the border with Zimbabwe, September 19, 2010. (Goran Tomasevic/Courtesy Reuters)

Yesterday, Global Witness announced that it was leaving the Kimberley Process, the international certification scheme to prevent trade in blood diamonds it helped to found. The immediate provocation for the international NGO was the KP certification for Zimbabwe to begin selling diamonds from its Marange diamond field.

The Marange fields are infamous for Zimbabwe government human rights violations (pdf) against illegal miners. This included firing on miners from helicopters. As recently as August 2011, Human Rights Watch released a report citing continued human rights violations in Marange. Nevertheless, at its plenary session in November, KP approved the sale of Marange diamonds. The United States, which has sanctions in place against Zimbabwe, abstained from voting.

Le Monde Diplomatique, the Guardian, and Global Witness all report that allowing these exports will directly benefit the Zimbabwean military, which allegedly has deep ties with diamond mining companies. In particular, Anjin Investments, a joint Chinese-Zimbabwe government venture with top Zimbabwean military brass among its executives, has stockpiled million carats of diamonds, which it is beginning to sell.

Global Witness’ courageous departure highlights the lack of credibly of the Kimberley process. Likewise, Zimbabwe profits from its Marange diamonds will help it skirt existing international sanctions and provide new streams of funding for the military, which has a long history of suppressing dissent.

H/T to Asch Harwood

More on:

Sub-Saharan Africa

Zimbabwe

Human Rights

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