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The Canadian-based non-profit organization IMPACT, formerly known as Partnership Africa Canada, has announced that it is leaving the conflict diamond certification scheme known as the Kimberley Process. “Consumers are being sold something that is not real,” Joanne Lebert, IMPACT’s Executive Director says.

Joanne Lebert“The Kimberley Process—and its Certificate—has lost its legitimacy. The internal controls that governments conform to do not provide the evidence of traceability and due diligence needed to ensure a clean, conflict-free, and legal diamond supply chain. Consumers have been given a false confidence about where their diamonds come from. This stops now,” she said during the recent Kimberley Process Plenary held in Brisbane.

“We have come to the conclusion that the Kimberley Process has lost its will to be an effective mechanism for responsible diamond governance. We have also noted a growing tolerance for personalised attacks against Civil Society Coalition members of the Kimberley Process and attempts to undermine the independence and credibility of the Coalition.”

The Kimberley Process was one of the first multi-stakeholder initiatives with collaboration between governments, industry, and civil society. In recent years, however, attacks against Civil Society members by other Kimberley Process participants have caused irreparable damage to the foundation of the tripartite initiative.

The United Arab Emirates, Kimberley Process Chair in 2016, was boycotted by Civil Society due to lax trading practices that have allowed conflict diamonds to enter the legitimate supply chain. IMPACT called for major reforms to bring legitimacy back to the scheme following this. In addition, members of the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition and IMPACT have called for an expanded conflict diamond definition.

The definition currently in use limits “conflict diamonds” to only those used by rebel groups to finance their activities to overthrow governments, and remains silent on abuses perpetrated by governments themselves or private security firms. Civil Society has also called for reforms to reinforce internal controls at national and regional levels to strengthen traceability and minimise illicit trade.

IMPACT’s research into the conflict in Sierra Leone in 2000 was the first report to draw the link between diamonds and conflict financing, leading to international attention and action on conflict diamonds. In 2003, IMPACT was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for its work to end the trade of conflict diamonds. In 2016, IMPACT research demonstrated how —despite an embargo—Central African Republic diamonds were entering the legitimate supply chain through Cameroon.

“Many cases have highlighted the weaknesses of internal controls. After extensive evaluation, the Kimberley Process did not make enough progress on any of the reforms,” IMPACT said in a statement.

“IMPACT will continue working with the Kimberley Process members who genuinely seek to end the trade of conflict and illicit diamonds, through traceability and due diligence, whether through the Kimberley Process or other initiatives. We will collaborate with civil society members in diamond producing countries. In particular, IMPACT will work in continued solidarity with Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition members on the effective implementation of internal controls for diamonds and other conflict-prone minerals, as well as to support countries to implement measures to end illicit trade,” the organisation said.

Image credit: https://impacttransform.org/en/about-us/team/

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