London - Campaign group Global Witness has pulled out of the
Kimberley Process, a scheme designed to prevent “blood diamonds” from entering
the mainstream market, calling the scheme outdated and a failure, almost nine
years after its launch.
In a damning statement on Monday, Global Witness said the
Kimberley Process had refused to close flaws and loopholes and accused the
diamond-producing governments running the scheme of showing little interest in
It said customers buying diamond jewellery still could not
be sure whether their gems had been used to finance armed violence and
“The scheme has failed three tests: it failed to deal with
the trade in conflict diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire, was unwilling to take
serious action in the face of blatant breaches of the rules over a number of
years by Venezuela and has proved unwilling to stop diamonds fuelling
corruption and violence in Zimbabwe,” said Charmian Gooch, a director of Global
“It has become an accomplice to diamond laundering - whereby
dirty diamonds are mixed in with clean gems.”
The Kimberley Process earlier this year allowed Zimbabwe to
begin exporting diamonds from its Marange region, where diamond fields were
seized by security forces in 2008 and at least 200 artisanal miners were
killed, according to human rights groups.
That move has been criticised by watchdogs including Human Rights Watch,
Global Witness and others, and several groups walked out of Kimberley Process
meeting in Kinshasa in June. Exports from Marange had been suspended since
2009, and campaigners have highlighted ongoing abuses and smuggling.
The Kimberley Process, a government-led rough diamond
certification scheme, was launched in 2003 and requires member states to bring
in control systems.
Global Witness, which campaigns against natural
resource-related conflict, corruption and associated abuse, said it had written
to the chair of the Kimberley Process to announce its withdrawal as an official
The concept of “blood” or “conflict” diamonds was first
highlighted by organisations like Global Witness and others in relation to
countries including Sierra Leone and Liberia, where years of civil war and
abuses were funded with gems.