KP gives green light to Marange exports

We publish courtesy of National Jeweler

St. Petersburg, Russia: After countless hours of debate in two far-flung nations, the members of the Kimberley Process (KP) finally were able to come to an agreement that would allow exports of rough diamonds from Zimbabwe’s troubled Marange diamond fields to resume.

The long-awaited agreement came as the World Diamond Council (WDC), the industry body charged with monitoring the issue of “conflict” diamonds, wrapped up its 7th annual meeting–and its impromptu KP mini-summit–Thursday in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Under the agreement, between now and September, Zimbabwe will be allowed to carry out two supervised exports of rough diamonds from Marange. For the first export, the KP will send an entire review mission to Zimbabwe along with the KP monitor Abbey Chikane. Chikane will return to Zimbabwe the week of Sept. 6 to certify the second shipment.

The KP Monitoring Committee will look over the review mission’s report and, from that, decide on allowing future exports from Marange.

“If this is a victory for anyone, it is a victory for the Kimberley Process,” KP Chairman Boaz Hirsch said in a news release of the system designed to keep conflict diamonds out of the trade. “The past several months have been difficult but they have clearly demonstrated that not only does the Kimberley Process have teeth, it is also able to achieve results.”

The industry has been grappling with the issues, including reports of widespread human rights atrocities, in the Marange diamond fields for some time. In November, the KP opted not to suspend Zimbabwe’s membership in the process, a controversial move. Instead, it decided to install a designated monitor, Chikane, who is South African, in the Marange area to monitor the situation.

Last month, at the KP intersessional meeting in Tel Aviv, Israel, Chikane delivered a favorable report on the situation in Marange, but the KP, which is comprised of representatives from diamond-producing countries, the diamond trade and civil society, were unable to come to consensus to allow rough exports to continue.

The topic then followed the industry to Russia, as key industry players convened in Moscow for the biennial World Diamond Congress earlier this week and decided to hold a KP mini-summit in conjunction with the WDC’s scheduled annual meeting.

According to the release, during the two-day WDC gathering, KP negotiators gathered in intense meetings in an attempt to reach a consensus on Marange. A senior delegation from Zimbabwe, including Minister of Mining Obert Moses Mpofu and the Attorney General Johanne Tomama, traveled to St. Petersburg for the meeting, as did a high-level delegation from the U.S. State Department led by Susan Page, the assistant deputy secretary of state.

Also in attendance were representatives of the diamond industry from Belgium, Israel, India, Russia, Namibia, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and the United States, as well as rough diamond producers, government representatives from producing, cutting and diamond consumer centers, members of the banking community and the media.

The resolution of the issues in Zimbabwe topped the WDC and KP mini-summit agendas but other central issues to be addressed included the steps needed to reform and refine the KP, the release states. Among the past reforms proposed by various industry bodies includes changing the voting structure–right now, a consensus is needed to move forward on any issue–and establishing an administrative team that would remain intact, even as the KP chairmanship passes from country to country each year.

It is not clear what, if any progress, was made in regards to these issues.

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