Vic Falls - Outgoing United States Kimberly Process (KP) chair Gillian Milovanovic plans to push for amendments to the definition of conflict diamonds at the next KP plenary discussion scheduled for the end of the month.
The move, which will see the definition of conflict diamonds address human rights, financial transparency and economic development, is believed to be targeted at Zimbabwe to prevent its Marange diamond industry from competing fairly on the global market.
In addition to ensuring that rough diamonds are free from armed conflict, the new definition will tackle issues which impact the sector through the exchange of best practices and voluntary initiatives.
Failure to comply will result in expulsion from the KP.
“Additional certification standards beyond the current definition should apply only to armed conflict and/or violence that are demonstrably related to rough diamonds and independently verified.
"They should not apply to isolated, individual incidents, or to circumstances or situations in which an armed conflict exists but is unrelated to the diamond sector,” Milovanovic said.
“KP safeguards should be implemented on a site-by-site basis, consistent with systems for other conflict minerals, such as those undertaken within Africa by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.”
“With respect, I would submit that we must do more. Consumers are – or will be – looking for more, and the core definition of a 'conflict diamond' therefore needs to be updated as our own investment in the KP’s future as a modern and relevant system of certification, just as other industries are doing as we speak,” she said.
“Of course the needed evolution in the diamond sector will not come solely through definitions. There is also a need to more directly and consistently invest in the miners and mining communities."
However, there was a heated debate with Zimbabwe's KP monitor Abbey Chikane saying Milovanovic should recuse herself from commenting on Washington’s position of sanctions on Zimbabwe, on the basis that she is compromised.
Chikane said under such situations, the KP chair should follow typical corporate board procedure and recuse herself as she is an interested party.
The remarks followed a heated debate during the just-ended conference on whether the KP should lobby for the removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe.
The conference, made up of diamond mining companies, marketing and polishing companies, said economic sanctions are not only affecting Zimbabwe, but also diamond traders who do business with Zimbabwe.
The audience also threw a salvo at US Embassy head of political and economic sanctions Michael Gonzalez, saying his government was responsible for complications in Zimbabwe’s diamond mining operations.
Gonzalez however said the targeted sanctions would only be removed once the Zimbabwean government respects the rule of law and ends political violence and human rights abuses.