Conflict diamonds are being processed in India and then smuggled into the U.S. and Europe, according to a report from customs officials in India.
The rough diamonds are being smuggled from Zimbabwe where they are under sanctions by the U.S. and many European countries, according to a story about the customs report in the Times of India. These diamonds do not have Kimberley Process Certification, which is a requirement to determine that the diamonds were acquired in ways that did not finance conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments, causing human suffering.
The diamonds are being taken to Kenya then smuggled into India and onward to the U.S. and Europe, according to the report. Customs officials reportedly said they have seized more than 48,600 carats of uncertified diamonds worth more than Rs 10 crore ($1.76 million) in raids on diamond traders in Surat and Mumbai. Customs officials fear that these diamonds could be also be used for money laundering.
This evidence of conflict or “blood” diamonds entering the U.S. is just one more example of how the long-brewing Zimbabwe controversy has rendered the Kimberley Process ineffective.
The organizations associated with the diamond industry (and there are many) have a habit of holding big meetings in beautiful locations where they congratulate one another on being so wonderful and then make some meaningless declaration that in a month’s time everyone forgets. In May, the World Diamond Council, an organization established in 2000 for the sole purpose of addressing “the challenge of conflict diamonds,” had a big meeting in Vicenza, Italy, where they honoured one another, and then approved a non-binding proposal to widen the definition of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme stating that conflict diamonds should cover “diamond-related violence in rough diamond producing and trading areas.”
This would be a very important addition to the Kimberley Process that would likely make it less likely for Zimbabwe to meet KPCS requirements. NGOs and western countries charge that human rights abuses in the controversial Marange diamond fields still exist by the government’s military forces and that money from diamond sales is being funnelled into the coffers of the political party of President Robert Mugabe to fuel elections and for other nefarious reasons.
However, such a proposal will never be approved by the KPCS members.
At a June intercessional meeting of the KPCS in Washington, D.C., hosted by current chairperson Gillian Milovanovic, who represents the United States, the proposal was predictably struck down by the African and Asian members. These representatives believe that Zimbabwe is being unfairly singled by the western members for political reasons, that this is another example of the Western countries overreaching their influence in the developing world, and, most importantly, they want access to what is believed to be the largest diamond deposit in the world.
Milovanovic’s one-year term is about halfway through and outside of creating a working KPCS website it’s difficult to see what would have been accomplished once her chairmanship ends. The next two chairpersons will be from African countries who oppose the proposed change in definition.
But you can expect that for the next two years there will be more self-congratulatory speeches and more meaningless proposals from the diamond industry.
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