Bloomberg News

Global Witness Quits Kimberley Process Over Zimbabwe Gem Sales

December 06, 2011

Dec. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Global Witness, the London-based advocacy group, said it’s withdrawing from the Kimberley Process, an organization it helped establish to monitor the sale of so- called conflict diamonds.

The group is pulling out after the “shocking” decision by the Kimberley Process last month to authorize exports by two companies operating in Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields. Members of Zimbabwe’s ruling party may use revenue from the area to fund the intimidation of voters ahead of elections in the southern African country, it said in an e-mailed statement today.

“The Kimberley Process’s refusal to confront this reality is an outrage,” Charmian Gooch, a founding director of Global Witness, said in the statement. “Consumers should not buy Marange diamonds, and the industry should not supply them. All existing contracts in the Marange fields should be canceled and retendered with terms of reference which reflect international best practice.”

Zimbabwe’s army seized control of the Marange area in 2008, killing about 200 miners, according to Global Witness. Smuggling of Marange diamonds through neighboring Mozambique raised concern with groups in Zimbabwe and the Las Vegas-based Rapaport Diamond Trading Network, which said Nov. 22 it will expel members found to have knowingly offered Marange diamonds for sale on the RapNet Diamond Trading Network, the world’s biggest.

Zimbabwe, the seventh-largest diamond producer in 2010, will probably earn about $334 million from exports of the gems this year, according to the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining and Development Corp., its main producer.

Ivory Coast, Venezuela

Global Witness said the Kimberley Process had also failed to deal with trade in conflict diamonds from Ivory Coast and was “unwilling” to take action against breaches of the rules by Venezuela. It didn’t provide further details.

“Nearly nine years after the Kimberley Process was launched, the sad truth is that most consumers still cannot be sure where their diamonds come from, nor whether they are financing armed violence or abusive regimes,” Gooch said.

The Kimberley Process, which began in 2003, is made up of countries that produce, process and purchase diamonds, as well as industry and civil society representatives.

--Editors: Paul Richardson, Michael Harrison.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael J. Kavanagh in Kinshasa at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson at

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