KP Fails to Make Decision on a Defiant Zimbabwe

140 95 Rapaport News

RAPAPORT… Zimbabwe vowed to immediately resume exports of diamonds from the Marange fields despite a breakdown in negotiations at the Kimberley Process plenary in Jerusalem late Thursday.

Obert Mpofu, Zimbabwe’s mine minister, told reporters that the country would not be held hostage to the west who have looted its diamonds for too long.

“These are our G_d-given resources and we will do with them what we feel is best for our people,” Mpofu said.

Kimberley Process chairman, Boaz Hirsch, head of foreign trade division at Israel’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, ended the four-day meeting after delegates failed to reach consensus to allow the exports from Zimbabwe.

“It’s an agreement that comes to portray the complex reality that was displayed in the review mission report,” Hirsch said. “There are a small number of countries that are still in consultation with their capitals. We had deadlines and the plenary has ended, but we do hope to reach a consensus in the coming days.”

Hirsch declined to disclose details of the agreement being considered but explained that the negotiations have focused on presenting an agreement that reflects the findings of the review mission. 

The review mission took place in August, but disputes among participants delayed publication of the final report until this past Friday, just before the plenary. Zimbabwe has 30 days to reply to the recommendations.

The report recommended that Zimbabwe’s planned sale of existing rough stockpile should depend upon progress made in the implementation of the joint working plan. The review mission was of the opinion that the working group should favorably consider the sale. The compliance report reiterated though that the Kimberley Process monitor to Zimbabwe should inspect Marange goods before a legal sale can take place.

One Kimberley Process participant, who requested anonymity, noted that while the plenary failed to reach consensus, there were also no clear objections indicating that Zimbabwe could find a technical loophole to make the exports. Hirsch stressed that this is not the case though, and that the country is still under obligations set out by the Swakopmund agreement, signed in November 2009, whereby Marange goods would still be subject to the signature of the monitor for Marange, Abbey Chikane.

Hirsch noted that it was up to individual member countries to uphold the Kimberley Process principles should Zimbabwe begin exports before an agreement is reached.

Eli Izhakoff, president of the World Diamond Council (WDC), which represents the diamond industry at the Kimberley Process, said the organization’s position has always been “an inclusive one” rather than advocating expulsion or the possibility of allowing diamonds to penetrate the market outside the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. He declined to speculate what action the WDC would take if Zimbabwe exports begin before a decision is made.

Hirsch dismissed the possibility of another mini-summit taking place to resolve the issues, as was the case following a June stalemate on Zimbabwe out of Tel Aviv. Subsequently a min-summit, led by Izhakoff, achieved consensus at a meeting in St Petersburg.

“We will begin tomorrow to aggressively work with those members who have not come to a decision and we remain confident that a final decision will be made soon,” Hirsch said.

Hirsch also confirmed that no appointment has been made for a 2011 Kimberley Process vice-chairman, which would assume the leadership position in 2012 following the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The U.S. has put forward its nomination for the role, but reportedly withdrew when a decision on Zimbabwe was not reached.

The U.S. took a leadership role in the negotiations with Zimbabwe, assuming what some delegates viewed as a more central, compromised position. The U.S. requires a consensus of all participants to vote in favor of its vice chairmanship.

Hirsch noted some achievement of the Kimberley Process plenary including the formation of a committee to advance the establishment of a group administrative office.  Swaziland was also co-opted as the 76th country member during the plenary.  

The Democratic Republic of the Congo  assume the role of chairmanship from Israel on January 1, 2011.



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