THE Kimberley Process (KP) is in danger of collapse. Set up in 2003, the system is supposed to
end the trade in "blood diamonds" which illicitly finance civil wars. But its Congolese chairman
has unilaterally decided to let sales from Zimbabwe's disputed Marange diamond fields resume.
America, the European Union, Canada and Israel are hotly contesting the move. Rulings by the
49-member body, representing 75 diamond-producing and -trading countries, are supposed to be
Ever since diamonds were first discovered in a 60,000-hectare site in Marange in eastern
Zimbabwe in 2006, reports of killings, torture, corruption, bribery, looting, smuggling and political
skulduggery have been rife. The stakes are enormous. Tendai Biti, Zimbabwe's finance minister,
has described the field as "the biggest find of alluvial diamonds in the history of mankind".
Potential revenue has been estimated at $1 billion-2 billion a year. One mining expert involved in
the area reckons it is "much, much more". The IMF put Zimbabwe's entire GDP last year at $7.5
Following the announcement of the find by a London-registered company, African Consolidated
Resources (ACR), tens of thousands of locals and foreigners rushed to the area to try their luck.
Diamonds were being scooped up by the handful. President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party
quickly moved to claim the fields as its own, cancelling ACR's prospecting rights and sending in
the army to oust the panners and local inhabitants and to seal off the area. At least 200 people
were killed, many of them by bullets fired from army helicopters. Some evicted civilians were
then forced back by soldiers to mine the diamonds for a pittance.
In the face of growing reports of human-rights violations, the KP imposed a ban on all further
sales of Marange diamonds. But production, mainly by two South African outfits in joint ventures
with the Zimbabwean government, continued. By June last year 4.6m carats, worth $1.7 billion?
money the cash-strapped government sorely needed?had been stockpiled. A month later,
following a report by KP's monitor, Abbey Chikane, a South African, claiming that Zimbabwe was
now fully complying with KP rules, two small sales of Marange diamonds were permitted, though
no more since then.
On June 24th, however, at the end of a four-day KP meeting in Congo, the body's chairman,
Mathieu Yamba, announced that the two Zimbabwean-South African joint ventures, Mbada
Diamonds and Marange Resources, could resume diamond sales. NGOs, who have continued to
monitor the disputed fields, are aghast. They say that human-rights abuses, smuggling and other
blatant breaches of KP's rules are still going on, with most of the proceeds going into the pockets
of army leaders and Zanu-PF bigwigs. Mr Biti says the Treasury has seen barely a cent.
Western members of the KP insist that Mr Yamba's announcement, not having been approved by
the required consensus, is invalid. They, together with the World Diamond Council, are asking
international diamond traders not to touch Marange diamonds. But they may not be able to stem
the flood of illicit gems pouring out of Zimbabwe, to be snapped up in Bahrain, China, India and
Lebanon, among others. Many poor countries have long regarded the KP as a plot by Western
countries to control the diamond trade?and thereby prices. This could sound its death knell?and
help Mr Mugabe keep himself and his party afloat.
The article presented examines the Kimberly Process, which is a system that was designed to end blood diamond trade, a practice that finances civil wars. The Congolese chairman is opposed to ending the practice, which is being contested by the U.S., the European Union, Canada, and Israel. The reason why the Kimberly Process was established is because in 2006, a diamond mine was discovered in Zimbabwe that housed a minimum of 60,000 hectares. The diamonds discovered generate a minimum income level of $1 to $2 billion annually for the country, and it has also been suggested that annual revenue streams from ...
The solution helps to analyze the Forever Dirty article from the Economist, which is about blood diamond trade.