via Attempts to remodel KPCS exposed at diamond talks | The Herald 11 November 2014
Attempts by some non-governmental organisations to redefine the role of the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) are, in fact, moves by Western countries to prevent some African diamond producing countries including Zimbabwe from benefiting from their natural resources, an industry expert said on Friday.
Some Western countries have sponsored attempts to redefine the term “conflict diamonds” which would give them greater scope to block Zimbabwe from trading its diamonds openly.
Dubai Diamond Exchange chairman Peter Meeus told participants at the second Zimbabwe Diamond Conference that some Western powers and organisations were trying to hijack the KPCS.
Mr Meeus said organisations such as the World Diamond Council (WDC), a grouping of representatives from diamond manufacturing and trading companies, were also now deviating from their original mandate and were being used to try and remodel the KP.
He also accused NGOs for fronting agendas of rich powerful nations describing them as “small businesses competing for funding”.
Mr Meeus gave the example of allegations of human rights abuses levelled against the Zimbabwe Government in the Western media before and after the country was re-admitted into the KP in 2011.
“I challenged the journalist who broke the story to ask the human rights co-ordinator for Zimbabwe about the existence of this torture camp. So she did call him and the answer was very clear and I have it in black and white. He said, ‘I do not know specifically about a torture camp’, now I am asking you if the human rights watch co-ordinator for Zimbabwe did not know then who would know?” he asked.
“So this story about this torture camp, broke by the BBC and broadcast by other media across the world came from somewhere, but could it be that this story was cooked by some frustrated people?
“Some civil society who came out of the KP after the Kinshasa intercession because what a strange coincidence in the timing, it came exactly three weeks after Zimbabwe was allowed to export its diamonds again.”
“Is this acceptable in what we call the KP family? What kind of a family is that? How far do we go before we say no? So indeed it is time we come to a new understanding in the KP. It is time to restore what this gentlemen’s agreement was all about,” said Mr Meeus.
He said protection of human rights was important but cases of alleged violations should be judged by independent organisations who did not have direct interest in the industry.
Mr Meeus said questions being raised about the KP’s ability to execute its mandate were baseless as recent reports indicated that 99,8 percent of the diamonds produced in the world were conflict free.
“If there are human rights violations they should be judged by independent institutions that are really independent and are respected as such that they do not cook stories for the sake of their further existence.
“Let the KP do what the KP was meant to do when we construed it 14 years ago, a certification scheme is a certification scheme and it is not a human rights check,” he said.
Mr Meeus said organisations such as the WDC were also not qualified to speak for the entire industry as it only represented the ideas of a minority.
He said the WDC had a membership of 40 companies which can only be joined by paying $10 000 with little representation from companies from Africa which accounts for about 65 percent of global production.
“So in a certain way the WDC in its new format is a bit like a gentlemen’s club, only paying members are allowed in.
“One can also ask a question about whether an organisation that asks for $10 000 from potential members can be truly a representative voice of all these small and medium enterprises active in the process.
“We are against a privatised WDC which basically represents limited private commercial interests and has clearly lost legitimacy widespread industry support it once had in the past,” he said.
The KPCS has made tremendous strides in its goal to rid the world of conflict diamonds since inception in 2003 as by 2006, the percentage of conflict diamonds had dropped from 15 percent of the total global diamond market share to less than 1 percent. – New Ziana.