Beware of Blood Diamonds

Why would Kimberley Process chairman Mathieu Yamba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo unilaterally authorize Zimbabwe to export diamonds from the controversial Marange fields this week?

Much to the annoyance and confusion of some key member states, his decision came without the required consensus that governs the KP and I’m wild-guessing that it was an economically motivated decision aided by intense lobbying.

While most wondered at the legality of the chairman’s actions, it was ultimately left to individual organizations and participating countries to make their own decision on how to respond. The U.S., which is trying to become KP chair for 2012, and the European Union, which heads the all-important Working Group for Monitoring at the KP, immediately distanced themselves from the decision. Others soon followed.

The U.S. State Department warned that it would publish the names of companies taking delivery of these goods to ensure that U.S. companies are aware of potential non-compliant goods in their suppliers’ stocks. Further, the State Department said it would ask its Office of Foreign Assets Control to investigate whether those transactions are in violation of the country’s sanctions laws, given that the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation is on OFAC’s sanctions list.

Jewelers of America and the Diamond Manufacturers Association of America issued a joint statement stressing that trading in Marange diamonds would be in violation of national laws. However, they fell short of taking a personal commitment to expel guilty members.

Map of Conflict Diamond Countries. Yellow countries are where conflict diamonds have originated. Liberia and Ivory Coast were under Kimberly Process sanctions as of December 2006.
At this point, there would be nothing to stop Zimbabwe from exporting the goods with valid KP certificates. It appears that from a legal standpoint, Yamba’s notice was at worst, a gross violation of the spirit of the KP’s consensual nature.

FCI encourages our customers to carefully consider your source when purchasing diamonds and when a European-cut or old mine-cut diamonds is available for purchase, why not limit your exposure to blood diamonds by taking a stand against these globalization atrocities.

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