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  • Marange, Chiadzwa and other diamond fields and the Kimberley Process - Index of articles

  • Switzerland rejects unilateral KP decision allowing resumption of Zimbabwe diamond sales
    Zimbabwe Advocacy Office (ZAO) and Bread for All (BFA)
    July 08, 2011

    The controversial decision by Kimberly Process Chairman purporting to allow the Government of Zimbabwe to resume sales of tainted diamonds from Marange mines has increased confusion and further undermine the credibility of the global body mandated to regulate international trade in rough diamonds. On June 23, 2011 Mathiue Yamba, Chairman of the KP sent a notice claiming that KP members had reached a consensus decision confirming that Zimbabwe had now fully complied with international requirements and is therefore allowed to export diamonds from Marange without international supervision. Since then several Governments and Non-Governmental Organisations that participated in the Kinshasa Meeting have denounced the KP Chairman's actions as unilateral and contrary to the PK procedures which have long been based on consensus.

    As a partnership of Swiss and Zimbabwe NGOs, the Zimbabwe Advocacy Office (ZAO) and Bread for All (BFA) commend the position taken by the Federal Government of Switzerland insisting that the KP Chairman's unilateral decision flouts KP protocols and is therefore null and void. In the absence of a veritable KP consensus, Marange diamonds in effect remain banned from international trade. The Federal Government of Switzerland has also informed us that they remain committed to working with the KP Chairman, Member States and Observers in pursuing a solution to the crisis over Zimbabwe's diamonds.

    Switzerland is one of world's premier centres for the diamond and jewellery industry and as such manufacturers, retailers and consumers should be able to depend on the Government and Kimberly Process to provide credible information and guidance on the availability of conflict-free diamonds. All responsible companies and consumers of diamond and other mineral products also have a responsibility to ensure that communities in the areas of origin benefit equitably from the resources and not subjected to rights violations in the process of the mining activities.

    We therefore call upon;

    The Chairperson of the Kimberly Process, to uphold the rules of his own organisation and work with all Participating States and Observers towards achieving a genuine consensus that will benefit the people of Zimbabwe and enhance the credibility of the KP.

    The Government of Switzerland and KP Member States, to maintain the correct stance of rejecting the unilateral decision allowing Marange diamond sales and pursue a consensus decision backed by robust international monitoring mechanisms as a condition for allowing sales of Marange diamonds.

    The Government of Zimbabwe, to co-operate with all Member States and KP Observers in the search for a onsensus solution and to guarantee transparency in all mining and export activities an uphold the rights of Marange and other mining communities above political and big foreign business interests.

    The Swiss Industry and Public, to refuse to buy diamonds from Marange mines until a KP decision fully licensing Marange diamonds and confirmed by the Government of Switzerland is reached.


    Zimbabwe and Switzerland are members of the Kimberly Process, UN-mandated body that brings together governments, business and civil society with the goals of regulating international trade in diamonds in order to combat "blood diamonds" - diamonds that serve to finance wars of rebel groups against governments. Now one of the world's biggest producers of rough diamonds, Zimbabwe experience a massive diamond rush in 2006 in Marange district, eastern Zimbabwe, with the invasion of more than 30 000 illegal miners. In October 2008, the Government of Zimbabwe deployed its army in order to control the region. During the military operation more than 200 miners and villagers were killed according to a Human Rights Watch report. Since the military installation around the diamond fields, human rights violations have been committed frequently, notably, forced labour, child labour, torture, beatings and abductions. In additions soldiers are reportedly forcing miners to work for them an smuggle diamonds.

    In November 2009, the KP suspended sale of Marange diamonds. In July 2010, after two missions of enquiry, the KP adjudged that Zimbabwe had met "the minimum criteria of the certification process for selling its uncut diamonds", since diamond sales do not finance rebel groups, Zimbabwe was therefore authorized to hold two supervised diamond auctions to international buyers in August 2010, pending full certification on proof of compliance with KP regulations. Rapapport, a leading brokerage company based in the US, immediately announced that it would not purchase Marange diamonds due to their connection with serious human rights violations.

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