The Year 2011 has the chance to be a watershed year for the African Diamond Trade. For the first time since the implementation of the Kimberley Process an African State the Democratic Republic of the Congo has the rotating Chair of this Process. So the question that needs to be asked is” What Agenda will the DRC Promote while in charge of the KP?
Before the Agenda is discussed lets take a walk down memory or in the case of Countries such as Liberia and Sierra Leone, Nightmare Lane. In the 1990s both West African States suffered Civil Strife that had control of the Diamond Fields as one of the goals of both Government Forces and Insurgents. As a result of these conflicts and the exploitation of Natural Resources in the region the Kimberley Process was developed.
So last month the DRC took over the chair of the KP that was relinquished by Israel. By most accounts the DRC is proposing a Strong and Vigorous Agenda for the rest of the year. Key components of their strategy are: A Plan to boost internal controls by developing a system for artisanal miners and tracking these gems from the point where they are extracted to export; Combat smuggling by focusing on the controls currently used in trading centers, beefing up the capacity of local customs officials where necessary and banning the use of post boxes by importers.
The DRC appears to be ready to act further upon initiatives that were backed by Israel as well. Two of the most notable suggestions were having increased closer cooperation with the World Customs Organization and conducting a further study of having a possible permanent Secretariat for the Kimberley Process.
However there are several areas of concern in Africa that will need to be addressed by the KP. First of all is Zimbabwe. At this time elements of its Diamond Industry have close ties to President Mugabe. Recent reports of an internal power struggle within the ruling ZANU-PF Party over control of the assets of one company are disheartening. Another Problem is that Zimbabwe has not made any moves whether or not it will abide by an agreement regarding exports of Diamonds that it reached last month with the KP.
Another Nation which also just had a Presidential Election that has issues with Diamonds is the Central African Republic. The International Crisis Group released a report titled: Dangerous Little Stones: Diamonds in the Central African Republic. The report found that rampant smuggling by illicit networks are robbing the state coffers and rebel groups such as the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity and the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace to recruit new fighters and create a strong incentive not to disarm. The report also faults the CAR Governments refusal to distribute wealth fairly as a factor in launching these rebellions.
A Third Nation that is currently the scene of a recently held election that has gone astray is Ivory Coast. While the rest of the World frets about the Nationalization of the Banking Industry and the Price of Cocoa itself another issue has risen that most of the media has not covered yet. Despite the Electoral Strife that has occurred since the end of November 2010 Diamond mining and smuggling continues unabated. The KP will be working with regional states to upgrade enforcement activities along the shared border with Ivory Coast.
While these are specific Nations that have internal problems that are affecting the Process itself there is one topic that KP seems to punt on. It cannot agree on language that would ascertain how serious KP takes Human Rights Violations. In 2010 new language was introduced that had the aim of clarifying the relationship regarding Human Rights. The Proposed Language which was blocked by several Nations stated that Participants in the Process should respect International Human Rights Law when providing security in the Diamond sectors. Civil Society Groups backed by several Governments argued that the legitimacy of the process would be seriously undermined if it appeared that the Process was not seen to be actively protecting and promoting Human Rights. This would be the case if there was no response to Violations committed by State Agents working in the Diamond Sector.
These are some of the issues that need to be addressed by KP while the Democratic Republic of the Congo has the Chair. It is currently interacting with the Authorities in Zimbabwe which is a positive sign. However the Central African Republic and the Ivory Coast are situations that need to be addressed. Human Rights will be an issue that needs to be addressed as well. That may be a lot of issues that need to be addressed within a 12 Month Period.
The Author Publishes Confused Eagle on the Internet. It can be found at confusedeagle.livejournal.com
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."
Reproduction is authorised provided the author's permission is granted.