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Supermodel to give evidence in trial of former Liberian leader Charles Taylor.
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was established in 2003 by various countries, diamond industry representatives and rights groups, after accusations that diamonds had financed several conflicts in Africa, including the civil war in Sierra Leone.
However, critics say that the process is toothless and needs to be reformed. They are critical of a June report by Abbey Chikane, a South African monitor in the Kimberley Process, who wrote that “Zimbabwe has satisfied minimum requirements of the KPCS for the trade in rough diamonds.”
Nadim Kara of Partnership Africa Canada, which works to stop the trade in conflict diamonds, said that the new Kimberley Process plan for Zimbabwe “is far from perfect, and it will take considerable efforts by all parties…to make it work.”
Ian Smillie, an architect of the Kimberley Process who resigned last year in frustration over its ineffectiveness, said that it would have been better to “verify first and then agree” when it comes to Zimbabwe. But he notes that Zimbabwe has agreed to some tough new procedures, including a full review under the process, a forensic audit of the country’s existing diamond stockpile, and an NGO representative to accompany Chikane, the Kimberley Process monitor, on his next visits.
Zimbabwe activist Farai Maguwu, who was detained and accused of providing false information about the diamond trade after meeting with Chikane, has been freed on bail under the deal.
Zimbabwe’s embattled coalition government desperately needs revenue to rebuild its shattered country, where there is often not enough money to pay teachers or purchase medical supplies for public hospitals.
The Movement for Democratic Change party, formerly in opposition and now a partner to President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF, has said that the government plans to nationalize the Marange diamond fields, which could provide a badly needed windfall to the country.
A report released last month by Partnership Africa Canada documents how Zimbabwe’s inner cadre of political and military elites loyal to Mugabe is reaping huge profits from control over the Marange fields.
“While some of this money is lining individual pockets, there have been several reports of military commanders personally securing diamonds-for-guns deals with Chinese officials,” the report says.
According to the report, the weapons might be used in the power struggle for control of the ZANU-PF party after Mugabe dies, and “are almost certain to be used to carry out more abuses in [Marange], and intimidate voters in any future election.
“The military’s role using diamonds as a barter good for weapons brings a sense of urgency to this situation, offering a disturbing echo of how diamonds financed arms purchases that fuelled the wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia,” it says.
Smillie said that while the Taylor trial has been going on for more than two years, it has not attracted much press coverage recently.
“Campbell’s appearance — if she does actually appear — will remind people about the trial and its importance,” he said.
“The unregulated trade in diamonds through the 1990s led to the deaths from direct and indirect causes of millions of people," said Smillie. "The carnage was enormous and the effects will last for a long time. Diamonds didn’t cause the wars, but they fuelled them. And the Kimberley Process, which is trying to regulate diamonds, is stumbling badly.”
This GlobalPost video shows the connection between the ongoing war in eastern Congo and the mining of diamonds and other minerals.