RAPAPORT… Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), an NGO leader in the campaign against conflict diamonds, turned its attention to evidence of a large and growing trade in illicit rough diamonds, running in parallel with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) that is supposed to eliminate the practice.
According to PAC, the primary lesson of its Diamonds and Human Security Annual Review for this year is that “[t]he trustworthiness and reputation of the world’s entire diamond industry should not depend on the willingness of NGOs to act as its watchdog.”
This year’s Annual Review describes how an increasingly formulaic Kimberley Process regulatory system, once described as a glass three-quarters full, is becoming increasingly less effective in curtailing abuse and criminality. The Review covers the diamond trade in 13 countries in Africa and South America. It reveals a widening array of diamond ‘mysteries,’ such as the story of Côte d’Ivoire, the last bastion of conflict diamonds.
The report concentrates on the development challenge in countries including Sierra Leone, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), emerging from years of diamond-fuelled war. Just as peace is not simply the absence of war, explains PAC, an end to conflict diamonds does not necessarily mean that diamonds will create prosperity, or that human security will prevail in the areas where they are mined.
Diamonds are the most concentrated form of wealth on earth. It stands to reason, the report says, that conflict diamonds may return to countries where development is stunted and governance weak. That is why development initiatives in these countries are so important, and why efforts to strengthen the Kimberley Process and to bring greater transparency to the industry need all the support they can get.
PAC’s Annual Reviews of the diamond industry are widely quoted and have become documents of record on the diamond industries in many countries. The 2008 report is essential reading for those concerned about peace and development in Africa, and about the role that diamonds will play in the process. The report is available in English at http://www.pacweb.org/e/images/stories/documents/ar_diamonds_2008_eng.pdf. French and Portuguese versions are also available.