Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Botswana under pressure as diamond groups turn up heat

The Kimberly Process Civil Society Coalition has turned up the heat on Botswana by putting the spotlight on the country as the current Chairperson of the Kimberly Process (KP) at a meeting held in Kasane.

Botswana’s Minister of Minerals Lefoko Moagi chickened out of mentioning the Russia/Ukraine conflict.

At the ceremony held at Kasane, Moagi’s speech did not mention the contentious issue of whether or not Russian diamonds should be classified as one of those fueling conflicts.

But in his opening remarks at the same ceremony, the coordinator of the Kimberly Process Civil Society Coalition, Michel Yoboue did not mince words as he called on the Botswana-led KP to “address the current crisis with decisive actions and to finally make the KP fit for purpose.”

“The fact that the Kimberly Process is unable to even discuss whether it should continue certifying Russian diamonds as conflict free, reaffirms what we have been denouncing for years: that the world’s conflict diamond scheme is no longer fit for purpose,” said Yoboue.

The Kimberly Process Civil Society Coalition coordinator said: “Indeed the silence of the KP over the Ukraine crisis confirms that we are right to challenge the claim that conflict diamonds represent less than 1% of all diamonds in circulation.”

Yoboue further indicated that the unprecedented challenges facing the diamond industry today “are not easy to address, but more clearly than ever signal the need to change.”

Moagi also acknowledged this observation in his speech when he conceded that, “Leading the KP has never and will never be an easy undertaking, however it has to be done for our collective and society’s benefit.”

Calling for the participants at the meeting to suspend Russia and thereby stop certifying its diamonds as conflict-free until it unconditionally ends its aggression against Ukraine, Yobuoe said, “For the past years, many of these meetings have taken place within limited public scrutiny.”

“When this gathering repeatedly failed to reach consensus on much-needed reforms, this hardly ever reached main stream media.  But now as the magnitude of Russia diamond controversy is putting the spotlight on the KP’s shortcomings, the world is watching and demanding answers,” said Yoboue.

He said the faith in KP keeps decreasing and only decisive action would be able to stop that.

“The exchanges over the past months and the experience of all failed reform cycles, have shown that those opposing progress play it hard,” noted Yoboue.

In his speech, Moagi said intersessional meetings are significant events in our calendar as it brings together the global diamond industry under one roof to discuss and ensure the KP continues to deal with issues relevant to the trade in rough diamonds and to deal with issues relevant to the trade in rough diamonds and to ensuring rough diamonds are not used to fuel conflicts.

“Through the Kimberly Process, in spite of its challenges and known shortcomings, we continue to give our many stakeholders reasonable assurance that as an industry we value peace and security,” he said.  Moagi also indicated that, “We equally recognise the need to ensure that the rough diamond trade optimally contributes to sustainable development, peace security and sustainable development should be unnegotiable principles within our mist.”

The minister said as an United Nations General Assembly established entity as well as some of the members of KP being UN member states, the KP has become an important source of inspiration for conflict prevention as it points out the value of commodity certification to promote clean trade. 

He said transparency and good governance in natural resource management are now widely recognized as important tools for conflict prevention and peace building, mostly due to the Kimberly Process certification Scheme. “We need to build this recognition of the good that Kimberly Process has done. There is no time to rest or allow complacency to set in the KP,” said Moagi.

Sidestepping the issue of Russia/Ukraine conflict in his speech, Moagi said: “I implore you to delve into these rough diamond related matters, engage and discuss even the most uncomfortable Kimberly Process issues with the sole objective of ensuring that the Kimberly Process remain fit for purposes in these evolving times, whilst, maintaining the original mandate of this entity as espoused in the United National General Assembly Resolution 58/56.”

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper