Karel Kavando, the czar of the Kimberley Process, shrugged-off accusations from Non Governmental Organisations suggesting that the process, which aims at identifying conflict diamonds, has become a toothless-dog. Speaking at the Antwerp Diamond Conference
Wednesday, a day after British pop-star and a humanitarian, Sir Bob Geldof, attacked the organisation of being ineffective, Kavando said they have achieved almost all of their objectives.
The diamond conference focused all the relocation of the manufacturing business to Southern Africa producer countries. Sir Geldof, who was speaking at a dinner attended by Belgian queen, Princess Mathilde, adorned with De Beers diamonds, urged Botswana to take an aggressive move in the diamond beneficiation process.
“We have reached a certain maturity and the original objectives have been achieved. The main objectives of setting-up the Kimberley Process were to stem-out conflict diamonds out of the market,” Kavando said.
The Kimberley Process came about as a result of civil wars, believed to be funded from diamond proceeds that ravaged Angola, DRC, Liberia and Sierra Leone at the close of the last century.
“Kimberley Process was to stem-out diamonds which were used to fund wars that ravaged Africa. Now we have peace in Liberia and DRC and what we have to be focusing on is helping those countries to find their own feet,” he said.
His comments came after Liberian President, Johnson Sirleaf, appealed to the international community for some support of the new democracy in her country that was badly managed for years.
Kimberley Process has 70 members ÔÇö including producer countries, producer companies and NGOsÔÇö bent on the objective of cutting out blood diamonds out of the market.
“Some people tell us that Kimberley Process is 80 percent successful and I wonder where those figures come from. I think we have been successful but with a single exception being Venezuela. Every country has had peer review visit,” Kavando said.
The peer review mechanism was adopted at a Kimberley Process meeting in Gaborone last year. It came with other 40 stiff recommendations.
However, Kimberley Process still has problems with Botswana’s neighbouring country of Zimbabwe whose industrial, low quality diamonds are being smuggled at an alarming rate. Kavando, who was over impressed ahead of the Kimberley Process’ next scheduled meeting in Brussels next month, said despite the fact that they have achieved the objectives they “can not close shop”.
“We cannot close shop because there is the danger that wars being sponsored from diamonds can easily re-appear,” he said.
Further, Kimberley Process has expressed concern that it is being burdened with other challenges, such as wars sponsored by other resources not related to diamonds, and some human rights issues.
“There are other resources which are fueling wars but we don’t have any hand in that,” he said, adding that “the next biggest challenge is to deal with child labour in some of the cutting and polishing countries.”