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1. Conflict Free Diamonds

Global Witness – the truth about diamonds Q&A

What are conflict diamonds?
Conflict diamonds, also known as blood diamonds, are diamonds that are used by rebel groups to fuel conflict and civil wars. They have funded brutal conflicts in Africa that have resulted in the death and displacement of millions of people. Diamonds have also been used by terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda to finance their activities, and for money laundering purposes.

Are conflict diamonds still a problem?
Diamonds are still fuelling conflict. In West Africa, diamonds from the rebel-held area of Côte d’Ivoire are being mined and are smuggled through neighbouring countries to international markets. The United Nations has recently reported that poor controls are allowing up to $23 million of conflict diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire to enter the legitimate trade through Ghana, where they are being certified as conflict-free, and through Mali. The Kimberley Process was set up to stop the trade in conflict diamonds but it still isn’t strong enough to achieve its aim.

Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Liberia and Sierra Leone are still recovering from widespread devastation resulting from wars funded by diamonds.

Diamonds continue to be used for money laundering, tax evasion and organised crime.

The number of conflict diamonds has significantly reduced because peace agreements have been signed in countries in Western and Southern Africa. But more diamond-fuelled wars could happen in the future unless the Kimberley Process strengthens government controls and the diamond
industry cleans up its act.

What percentage of diamonds are conflict diamonds?
Statistics fail to illustrate the human cost of wars in which millions of lives have been lost, there has been widespread human suffering and devastation, and economies have been destroyed. As the brutal conflict in Sierra Leone showed,even a small amount of trade in conflict diamonds can wreak enormous havoc.

It is extremely difficult to estimate the current percentage of conflict diamonds as smuggling can easily take place outside government controls, creating a trade in illicit diamonds.  Illicit trade, thought to represent up to 20% of global trade, shows that there are serious loopholes in the Kimberley Process. Any type of diamond smuggling highlights weak spots in a system through which conflict diamonds can potentially infiltrate. Poor government controls also allow some conflict diamonds to be certified as ‘conflict-free’. Some members of the diamond industry are knowingly flouting international and national law, yet the lack of industry oversight and willingness to find and expel unscrupulous members of the trade allows these traders to operate with impunity.

How much of a problem were conflict diamonds in the past?
The diamond industry claims that at the peak of the problem in the 1990s, approximately 4% of the global trade in diamonds was conflict diamonds.This is incorrect. United Nations reports on Angola estimate that in 1996-1997 the Angolan rebel group UNITA exported an average of US$700 million annually which alone accounted for 10% of the global trade.1 Therefore it can be estimated that conflict diamonds represented as much as 15% of world total in the mid to late 1990s at the height of the diamond-fuelled wars in Angola and Sierra Leone.

What are governments doing?
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (Kimberley Process) was set up by governments to stop the trade in blood diamonds. Launched in January 2003, the scheme requires governments to certify shipments of rough diamonds as conflict-free, and seventy countries are members.

Although the Kimberley Process makes it more difficult for diamonds from rebel held areas to reach international markets, there are still significant weaknesses that undermine its effectiveness and allow the trade in blood diamonds to continue.

A Kimberley Process meeting held in Botswana in early November made welcome commitments to strengthen the scheme but governments must accompany this with action if they are serious about stopping blood diamonds. All participating governments must have strong diamond control systems in place that are fully implemented. This must include adequate checks to make sure that diamond companies are complying with the scheme.

War Stories from Sierra Leone, where the rebel group mined diamonds to fund the conflict
Unidentified Amputee: “First used the axe to chop the left hand off. After, they want to cut the other, then this little boy started crying and said, "Please soldier, don't cut off my papa's other hand." So they said, "Let this woman remove this child from her back, we'll chop off his arm." And I said "No!" So they decided to chop the other hand off.”

De Sam Lazaro: “So they basically said you could have your right hand if you gave your son's hand.” Amputee: “Yes”.

What is the diamond industry doing?
The diamond industry is supporting civil society calls for the Kimberley Process to be strengthened, providing further evidence that more must be done to improve this government-run system. At the same time, the diamond industry has failed to follow through on the commitments it made to combat conflict diamonds.
Despite the millions of people killed in civil wars fuelled by diamonds, only recently has the diamond industry begun to systematically promote adoption of the measures they committed to in support of the Kimberley Process, with an education pack for retailers.

However, this provides no information about how these measures will be monitored and reviewed. Their support for strengthening the Kimberley Process must be matched by meaningful action to set up systems to effectively track diamonds from mine to sale that can assure consumers the diamonds they buy are conflict-free.

Given that diamonds have done so much damage in the past and have the potential to do so again in the future, the diamond industry must take concerted action against illicit diamond trading networks. Failure to face up to this problem will result in the continued use of diamonds by terrorists, rebel groups, and those involved in organised crime. The industry’s failure to systematically adopt strong systems puts the legitimate industry at risk of facing a consumer backlash.

Governments must require that the diamond industry put meaningful systems in place to stop conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate trade.

Diamond facts – The real cost of bling! 
The high value that society places on diamonds enables the transfer of wealth from the world's richest countries to some of its poorest.

  • The fact is 65% of the world's diamonds - almost £4 billion per year - are produced in African developing countries.
  • Botswana, the world's largest diamond producer, has the second-highest incidence of AIDS, with 37% of the adult population HIV positive and 160,000 orphans, as of 2003.
  • Diamonds provide 75% of Botswana's foreign earnings.
  • Sierra Leone is ranked the world's poorest country by the UN Human Development Index, with about 70% of its people living on less than 70p per day.
  • Diamonds account for 94% of its exports.
  • Most diamond miners earn just $1 a day
  • 1 million people scrape a living from mining diamonds
  • The fact is that diamonds are keeping these millions of people alive today
  • Kimberley Process: An Amnesty International Position Paper
  • Recommendations to the Kimberley Process (KP) participants in order to effectively strengthen the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS)

June 2006

Background 
On 1 December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution on the role of the trade in diamonds in fuelling conflict. The resolution supported the creation of an international certification scheme in an attempt to break the link between the illicit trade in rough diamonds and mass human rights abuses associated with armed conflict, as witnessed in countries such as Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone.  A civil society campaign brought international attention to the problem of conflict diamonds and put pressure on the international community to take action.  The adoption of a UN Resolution and the imposition of UN sanctions related to armed conflicts in several African countries galvanized the international community and the diamond industry to put in place a certification process to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate trade. That process came to be called the "Kimberley Process", http://www.kimberleyprocess.com/ named after a meeting in Kimberley, South Africa, in 2000 where several diamond producing states first met to address the issue of conflict diamonds.

The Kimberley Process brings together representatives of governments, the diamond industry and civil society. Since May 2000, Amnesty International together with other NGOs such as Global Witness, have been participating in the Kimberley Process. After lengthy negotiations over several years, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) was adopted at a Ministerial Meeting in Interlaken, Switzerland in November 2002 and launched in January 2003.

The KPCS involves nearly 70 governments (including all of the major diamond trading and producing countries) and all participants have adopted and implemented legislation to prohibit the trade in conflict diamonds.  Despite the progress made, three years after its establishment, the KPCS has not been able to fully address, monitor and end the international trade in conflict diamonds.

The KPCS will undertake a formal three-year review in 2006 to evaluate how effectively it is working and to identify ways in which to further strengthen the scheme. Amnesty International encourages the governments participating in the KPCS to use the Kimberley Process review to address the issues of governance, enforcement and transparency to strengthen its effectiveness. Decisive action on this review is crucial to ensure that the KPCS evolves into an effective certification system that brings about an end to diamonds fuelling conflict.

The following recommendations to KP-participating governments relate to provisions on monitoring and enforcement, participation criteria and transparency. Amnesty International emphasizes in particular the need for governments to monitor and verify the diamond industry’s compliance with the KPCS and the self-regulation the industry has pledged to implement to combat conflict diamonds.  The review should also identify ways to address the gaps in implementation of and compliance with diamond trade and production statistics (a critical tool to combat conflict diamond trading) and establish clear criteria for entry into and suspension from the KPCS.   Amnesty International is also urging governments in the KPCS to provide funding and professional support to ensure effective monitoring and running of the KPCS and to enhance the capacity of countries to implement the KPCS.

Amnesty International considers the recommendations below a priority for KP governments. However it also encourages the KPCS to start considering moving beyond conflict diamonds and including in the certification system other human rights implications of the trade in diamonds beyond those of conflict.

Moreover, the diamond industry also has to demonstrate that it is truly committed to making the KP work by adopting third-party auditing measures and cooperating closely with law enforcement agencies to crack down on those elements of the trade that continue to engage in conflict diamond trading.

Recommendations

  • Participating governments should establish a minimum set of control measures that countries should be required to adopt and targeted efforts should be made to enhance capacity to meet these requirements.

    The system of internal national controls, which is supposed to track the origin of diamonds and ensure that no conflict diamonds enter the legitimate trade, was left to the discretion of each KP participating government.  After three years, the result of this is a patchy and uneven set of measures and controls, which vary in their effectiveness from country to country.   In order to ensure an effective internal control mechanism, participating governments should establish a minimum set of control measures, including verification of industry compliance and ensure that each member country develops the necessary capacity to implement and enforce such measures.
  • Participating governments should improve measures for dealing with compliance issues and apply more rigorous criteria for allowing countries to join the KPCS.

    Although the KPCS is based on voluntary cooperation between governments, for the certification system to be effective and credible it is important to establish more mechanisms to address non-compliance and if necessary suspend non-compliant countries. Clear policy and procedures for addressing non compliance and suspension of non-compliant governments need to be developed and applied rigorously. There is also a need to take a more consistent and thorough approach for admitting new KP participants.
  • Participating governments should enhance monitoring of the industry’s compliance with the KPCS and self-regulation.

    One of the major criticisms Amnesty International and other NGOs have made of the KPCS is that there are inadequate checks on the diamond industry  throughout the production and distribution process to verify industry compliance with the KPCS. This creates loopholes allowing illicit diamonds to enter the trade.

    A joint AI-Global Witness report and survey of the diamond industry has shown that the diamond industry continues to fall short of implementing basic measures of industry self- regulation it has promised to adopt.

    As long as the industry self-regulation system relies on voluntary adherence, only those players with good intentions will implement it. In order to be effective, the industry self- regulation system must move beyond voluntarism. Therefore, participating governments should monitor the industry’s compliance with the self-regulation system by carrying out rigorous auditing and inspecting companies’ performance.    Government responsibility to monitor the diamond industry should be integrated into the KPCS and be made an explicit obligation for all participating governments.
  • Participating governments should increase transparency of statistical assessments and other KP documents.
     
    Transparent statistical data assessment is essential for effectively detecting illicit trade and helping to ensure participants’ adherence to the KPCS.  Analysing and comparing export/import and production figures can reveal anomalies to help uncover illicit trade. Despite the importance of this data, currently the KPCS does not make this data publicly available.  Making this data transparent is important to ensure accountability and integrity of the scheme and to ensure that the data can be used as part of international efforts to combat the trade in conflict diamonds.  Transparent data collection is furthermore essential to improve the quality of the statistical data and ensure governments’ consistent and timely data submissions. The KPCS should also make other relevant documents publicly available such as reports of visits to review countries’ diamond control systems.

  • Participating governments should exercise particular vigilance where diamonds transit through customs-free zones.
     
    Governments in countries where diamonds transit through customs-free zones should be particularly cautious in checking and monitoring the trade of diamonds.
    They should undertake specific statistical controls of imported, stored and exported diamonds. They should provide customs officers with clear guidance on how to carry out checks and make sure that these are regular and effective, as well as registered. 

  • Participating governments should improve internal controls of diamond cutting and polishing centres. 

    Credible information collected by NGOs over several years (See for example Global Witness, “Making it work: Why the Kimberley Process Must Do More to Stop Conflict Diamonds”, available at: http://www.globalwitness.org/reports/show.php/en.00082.html) suggests that a lack of regulation and oversight in cutting and polishing centres can allow conflict diamonds to enter systems of legitimate trade.
     
    If polishing centres don’t have adequate control systems, there is a risk that conflict diamonds could be smuggled into and then laundered through their factories. Once polished, these diamonds don’t fall under Kimberley Process controls.
     
    AI calls on governments of countries with cutting and polishing industries to:
     
  • Enable national authorities to supervise imports of rough diamonds and exports of polished diamonds to and from polishing factories, and carry out audits of polishing factories to compare stock with company records.
     
  • Require diamond trading and polishing companies to record their imports of rough diamonds, details of the manufacture of cut polished stones, and the remaining and residual rough diamonds for export. These figures should be submitted monthly to the government.
     
     
  • Participating governments should provide funding and professional support for the coordination and implementation of the KPCS.
     
    To date, the KPCS has operated on the basis of volunteer working arrangements without a permanent secretariat or other professional support.  However, as the KPCS moves into a critical implementation stage, there is a need for more resources to ensure effective coordination and to increase capacity at the country level to implement the KPCS. Participating governments should consider creating a Secretariat or providing additional resources needed to increase the effectiveness of the scheme.

New shopping guide on conflict diamonds

Amnesty International UK and Global Witness has launched a new, glossy, simple guide which tells shoppers what they need to know when they shop for diamond jewellery if they want to try and ensure the diamonds are conflict free – that they have not been traded to fund armed conflict and civil war.

The guide is targeting romantic shoppers who might be looking for that special gift that will last forever.

Entitled ‘Are you looking for the perfect diamond?’, the guide is a short and easy to use guide to the issues. It recommends that as well as the usual ‘4Cs’ of Colour, Cut, Clarity and Carat, shoppers should also ask about Conflict before making their purchase.

Conflict diamonds are those sold in order to fund armed conflict and civil war. Warlords and rebel groups in countries including Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Liberia and Sierra Leone have used billions of dollars of profits from the sale of diamonds from the mines they control to buy arms and fund devastating wars. Diamonds mined in rebel-held areas in Cote d’Ivoire, a West African country in the midst of a volatile conflict, are currently reaching the international diamond market.

The guide explains that consumers in the UK can make a difference by insisting that the diamond industry keep the promises it has made to end the trade in conflict diamonds (1). It recommends that shoppers ask retailers the following questions about conflict diamonds.  They should be happy to help but if not, shoppers should try somewhere else, and tell them why. :

  • do you know where the diamonds you sell come from?
  • can I see a copy of your company’s policy on conflict diamonds?
  • can you show me a written guarantee from your diamond suppliers that shows that your diamonds are conflict free?
  • how can I be sure that none of your jewellery contains conflict diamonds?

Amnesty International UK Economic Relations Manager Tom Fyans said:

“Diamonds are a once in a lifetime purchase that people often choose as a token of love. I don’t believe people in Britain want this special gift to be related to the pain and suffering of others.

“Despite some progress, we are still concerned that the UK diamond industry is falling short in combating the trade in conflict diamonds. They must keep their promises to end this devastating trade.”

Global Witness campaigner Susie Sanders added:

“We are making it easy for shoppers to find out if the jeweller they choose is committed to conflict free.

“Diamonds may be expensive, but they shouldn’t cost lives.”

‘Are you looking for the perfect diamond?’ is published on 10 February by Amnesty International UK and Global Witness. It can be read online at www.amnesty.org.uk and http://www.globalwitness.org/

For more information on Conflict Free Diamonds see http://www.diamondfacts.org/conflict/index.html

(1) In 2003, in response to a big international campaign and a lot of media attention to the consequences of the trade in conflict diamonds, an international certification scheme called the Kimberley Process was launched. A Kimberley Process certificate, guaranteeing diamonds as conflict free, should accompany all shipments of rough diamonds to and from participating countries. All sectors of the diamond industry also agreed to a voluntary system of warranties to ensure diamonds continue to be tracked right up to the point of sale. This is what consumers are entitled to ask about.

2. Nafisa Weddings & Events and why our clients are choosing conflict free diamonds

Nafisa Mark established Nafisa Weddings & Events to ensure both bride and groom are presented with a professional co-ordination service, which is tailored according to their specific requirements for their big day. Nafisa has over 10 years experience of designing and coordinating weddings & private parties for some of the most distinguished in industries ranging from film/music/ IT & the financial sector, working throughout the UK and abroad and has shared her wealth of knowledge with many brides, on how to coordinate their dream wedding day.

Nafisa is also a regular contributor to various bridal titles and websites all over the world including UK's no 1 selling wedding magazine 'Brides'. Many Editors & Journalists call upon her expertise to share with their readers. With such an influential platform, Nafisa Weddings felt it was very important to launch an awareness campaign amongst the wedding industry to conflict free diamonds.

As wedding planners, the team often receive enquiries for sourcing diamonds for clients, either for their engagement rings or their wedding bands. However, more recently, they have had a number of queries about “conflict-free” diamonds. Nafisa believes that recent publicity has brought this issue to the forefront of the public domain. Therefore, couples want – and should rightly expect -reassurance that the diamonds they buy are genuinely “conflict-free”

Nafisa’s recent clients Kevin Sutherland proposed to his partner Kate Barker with a Conflict free diamond bought from DeJoria.

‘The proposal was very romantic says Kate 28. He serenaded me over a candlelit dinner on my birthday. Kevin bought a diamond ring from online jewellers DeJoria. I didn’t quite understand how special it was and I didn’t know too much about conflict-free diamonds before Kevin bought the ring. Kate is delighted with her ring. She says ‘ a diamond ring is an expression of love. If it was blood diamond it would be tainted as a result. She continues to say ‘Nafisa Weddings is now helping source our diamond wedding bands for our big day.

ENDS

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Uk Wedding Planner Launches Conflict Free Diamond Awareness Campaign