by Admin on July 23rd, 2010
The World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) said the agreement to allow some loose diamond exports from the controversial Marange diamond fields in Zimbabwe is “a convincing victory for the Kimberley Process.”
The agreement was reached last Thursday, at the 7th Annual Meeting of the World Diamond Council in St. Petersburg.
“The agreement was the result of persistence and a readiness to continue talking and listening to one another, for as long as it takes,” said WFDB President Avi Paz in a release published Monday. Paz was closely involved in the negotiations, the release added.
“It also offers conclusive proof of the effectiveness of the Kimberley Process. For nine months the KP blocked Marange exports, until such time that the country could demonstrate that it was in compliance with KP demands. The Kimberley Process showed that it has real muscle and that it is able to achieve results. The Government of Zimbabwe should also be commended for its flexibility and readiness to find common ground with the KP.”
“Just as importantly, the agreement paved the way for the people of Zimbabwe to legitimately benefit from their country’s rich diamond resources. That ultimately is KP’s truest value. All the people who were involved in the agreement can be proud over what they have achieved,” Paz said.
by Admin on July 23rd, 2010
Supermodel Naomi Campbell, who allegedly received conflict diamonds from former Liberian president Charles Taylor, is continuing in her efforts to avoid testifying about the incident at Taylor’s war-crimes trial.
After refusing to answer questions about the diamonds at an interview, and later declining a request to provide testimony to the court, on July 1 she was subpoenaed to appear at Taylor’s trial in The Hague.
Campbell has asked to postpone her testimony from on July 29 to August 5.
The model, according to actress Mia Farrow, allegedly received a number of rough diamonds from Taylor while he was financing his reign of terror in neighboring Sierra Leone with diamonds.
In a short interview with ABC News in April, Campbell denied the allegations. When the interviewer continued to ask about the diamonds, Campbell stormed off the set, in the process punching the camera held by the producer.
Prosecutors want the court to hear Campbell’s testimony, as well as Farrow’s and a witness named Carole Taylor, court papers show. Prosecutors want to prove that Taylor “used rough diamonds for personal enrichment and arms purchases,” according to court papers.
Taylor is charged with crimes against humanity and violations of international humanitarian law.
by Admin on June 28th, 2010
In a story published by the Zimbabwe Guardian today, the newspaper quoted mines minister Obert Mpofu saying that the World Diamond Council (WDC) “has given Zimbabwe the green light to sell its diamonds, a move that would see the country contributing 25 percent of the world’s diamonds.”
WDC president Eli Izhakoff told Rapaport News that the story is “erroneous and absolutely not true. A green light can be given only by the Kimberley Process,” he said.
The Guardian’s story states: The approval by the WDC is a slap in the face of the Kimberley Process and further discredits that organization.
Mpofu has been saying that Zimbabwe is prepared to sell rough from the Marange. The Guardian quoted him addressing a Kimberley Process compliance report from monitor Abbey Chikane. “The report was professional and was well received at the [Tel Aviv] meeting. The civilized countries accepted Chikane’s report although the hostile nations rejected it,” said minister Mpofu.
“The western countries are a consortium of looters and for us to expect support from these countries would be naivety of the highest order. We will no longer engage them when it comes to our diamonds. The hostile countries are determined to derail economic development. In any case, if they were credible, they could have recused themselves from deliberating on our diamonds because they have personal interests,” the minister was quoted as saying.
“All the noise and screams from the west is because they want to benefit from our rich mineral resources,” said Mpofu. The story stated that Zimbabwe has more than four million carats worth up to $1.7 billion stockpiled by Mbada Holdings and Canadile Miners all of which are awaiting export.
by Admin on June 28th, 2010
by Admin on June 28th, 2010
The 2010 Kimberley Process Intersessional ended a day late at what can only be described as a resonating failure. Presided over by Israel as Chair, the conference agenda was dominated by the issue of the exports of diamonds from Zimbabwe’s Marange fields.
After twists of hope and disappointment, hard work and little sleep, the many sides of the KP were not able to find a common ground.
At the heart of the issue was the report of the KP monitor to Zimbabwe, Abby Chikane, who gave his approval that the African country met the minimum requirements set by the KP in November 2009.
Civil Society representatives, the Non-Governmental Organizations represented by Global Witness, Partnership Africa-Canada (PAC) and Human Rights Watch (HRW), took an opposing position, stating that contrary to the Monitor’s reports, Zimbabwe has met the minimum requirements, stating that the Zimbabwe army is still present in the region, contrary to prior agreements.
Continued talks between country representatives, the diamond industry and the NGOs, the three pillars of the KP system, neared an agreement on Wednesday afternoon but stumbled over an issue raised by one of the sides that caused an uproar among delegates and set the discussions back to its initial position of confrontation. The sides were tight lipped about the topic; with a few saying the suggestion was a big mistake by the suggesting party.
The sides decided to continue talks into the night, adjourning only at 5 am, and continued on Thursday, giving the conference an extra day. At 6 pm Israel it became clear that the divide is too wide, and that an agreement won’t be reached.
In its concluding statement, the KP said that on the agenda of the meeting were a number of initiatives relating to the on-going work of the KP and to the consolidation of the process such the creation of an office for administration and support and the establishment of a Working Group on Trade Facilitation. The center of attention, however, was the KP minimum standards implementation in the Marange diamond fields in Zimbabwe.
“The meeting was clouded by the arrest of NGO activist Farai Mguwu by the Zimbabwean authorities three weeks earlier and the reports of his condition.”
According to Hirsch, “This situation is unprecedented in the Kimberley Process meeting, but all parties are committed to further engagement.”
Talks are scheduled to continue during the WDC Annual Meeting, to be held on July 14-15 in St. Petersburg. “Deliberations will continue in order to find a consensus based resolution,” Hirsch added.
Israel will host the KP Plenary Meeting in Jerusalem on November 1-4.
by Admin on June 23rd, 2010
First, a hearty thank you to everyone who entered to win these awesome conflict-free diamond earrings (worth $275) from our friends at Whiteflash. We wish we could give prizes to all of you, but alas, there can only be one winner today (and 5 runner-up winners!). It is our hope that the content we put together for you each day will serve as a meaningful consolation. But please stay tuned as tomorrow we’ll be unveiling a new giveaway from Whiteflash.
So, drum roll please…
The 1st place winner of the Whiteflash Giveaway who wins these diamond earrings is Katherine Michelle!
Katherine’s winning entry: “I believe that living better, healthier, and greener brings a higher level of self-fulfillment. Living healthier means eating right, exercising, more energy, and a longer life. Living a green lifestyle means drinking cleaner water, breathing cleaner air, minimizing waste, reducing energy output, and more green in my wallet. Ultimately being green means taking care of my planet just at it is taking care of me.”
Our 5 Runners-Up Winners who will win t-shirts and calendars from Whiteflash:
Kadence Englehardt - “I believe that living greener, healthier, and better are all intermixed. It just means that we need to be making every choice one that not only understands the consequences for us, but what happens to the environment in which we live. Ecosystems are intangibly connected: we still don’t know how far the ripples of choices of bygone eras have gone. Everyday offers us a chance to understand that connections of our one and only Earth.”
Alicia McDonald - “I choose to live healthier, better, and greener because life isn’t an isolated incident, it’s a communal effort. What I do today doesn’t just affect me and my own life but rather the lives of people I encounter, lives of people I don’t know, lives of animals, and the quality of the environment. Imagine if everyone made one positive choice daily to live better, healthier and greener. Lives would change, the world could change.”
Annabella Asvik - “Being a fashion producer, the amount of unethical fabrics (fur!) and jewelry killed me last fashion week. I thought if I started making ethical fashion choices, and showcased how glamorous being green can be, I could inspire change. I’d be excited to wear these earrings and show that diamonds can also be an eco girl’s best friend and that by choosing right, it’s not just the diamond’s that’s forever, the planet should be forever too.”
Sara Gallmann – “To me, living better, healthier and greener means staying mindful and in the moment – keeping my heart open, breathing fully, remaining thoughtful in word and deed, taking only what is necessary, finding ways to give back and be of service, being a responsible steward of the planet, eating organic whenever possible, eating consciously, moving and exercising my body and mind, being kind, thoughtful and grateful, live lovingly, re-use, recycle, explore, celebrate and live and love fully!”
Monique Marco - “Living better, healthier, and greener is about the big picture; not just me. It’s family, community, society and how I can be of service and make a positive impact and inspire. So I aim to touch, move and excite others to live healthfully; I know how fabulous it feels and appreciate how much joy, and passion it gives me. I teach yoga, have a clean diet and live strive to live with grace and abundance.”
Thank you to everyone for your thoughts on what living better, healthier and greener means to you!
-The Whiteflash.com Team
by Admin on June 23rd, 2010
Green Love: It’s All About Peace of Mind
This holiday season Whiteflash began an initiative to educate consumers about conflict diamonds and how to purchase socially conscious gifts for your loved ones this holiday. Whiteflash.com introduces “Green Love” this holiday season. As an online e-tailor we know that it is all about your peace of mind and your wallet. Two lucky winners received a Mini Dreams of Africa pendant and a Dreams of Africa ® earrings made with Whiteflash A Cut Above ® melee diamonds and here is what they had to say!
Grand Prize winner of the Mini-Dreams of Africa® Diamond Pendant in 18 Carat Gold set with 20 Whiteflash A Cut Above ® Diamond Melee (0.30ctw; Color: F/G, Clarity: VS). Approximate Retail Value (”ARV”) is $1,400 goes to Molly! Here is what Molly had to say…“I received the Dreams of Africa pendant today and it is absolutely beautiful! I can’t believe that I won the Dreams Love Giveaway! I will treasure this gorgeous piece of jewelry always! My husband said it looks just fabulous on me and that it really suits me. Thank you so much and Thank You Whiteflash.com! Have a great day!”
Our First Prize Winner Safiya has won a pair of Dreams of Africa® Diamonds for Life Diamond Earrings in 18 Carat Gold set with 6 Whiteflash ACA Diamond Melee (0.15ctw). ARV is $300.
“The diamond earrings are absolutely stunning. Thank you so much to everyone at Whiteflash for such a generous giveaway. I am planning on wearing these earrings for my wedding in May. I never thought that I would get to wear real diamonds on my wedding day. They are going to be just perfect with my dress. Thank you again!”
Thank you to all of our fans who entered our giveaway!
-The Whiteflash.com Team
by Admin on June 23rd, 2010
The nongovernmental arm of the Kimberley Process (KP) warned that its participation in the scheme is falling into question over the Zimbabwe issue.
“It’s getting more and more difficult to explain the crisis in Zimbabwe’s diamond sector. It’s very hard to explain decisions that are made behind closed doors,” Annie Dunnebacke, a campaigner for the nongovernmental organization (NGO) Global Witness, told Rapaport News at the KP intercessional meeting in Tel Aviv on Monday. “We’re not in a rush to leave the KP, but we might have to.”
Dunnebacke’s comments come as Zimbabwe’s membership in the KP is being debated and as human rights groups have intensified calls to exert more scrutiny on the country’s Marange diamond mine. Earlier in June, KP monitor to Marange, Abbey Chikane, said he would recommend that Marange stones be cleared for export with KP certificates as they have “met the scheme’s minimum requirements.”
In an interview with Rapaport News to be published Wednesday, Chikane explained that his mandate was not to deal with human rights issues at Marange, but to ensure that output from the mine met international standards set out by the KP.
In the run up to the Tel Aviv meeting, non-government organizations (NGOs) Global Witness, Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), and Human Rights Watch each published separate reports calling for Zimbabwe’s suspension citing ongoing human rights abuses surrounding the mine. Their frustrations have deepened with the ongoing detention of Farai Maguwu, director of the Centre for Research and Development (CRD) in Zimbabwe.
The groups did not say what the consequences would be if their expectations regarding Zimbabwe were not met. Chikane said he was concerned that if the NGOs withdrew from the scheme it might spell the end of the KP.
Strong Proponent of KP
In her speech to the meeting, Dunnebacke stressed that civil society has always been a strong proponent of the KP.
“In our daily work we do a lot more communicating about the KP, why we think it’s important, why we maintain our commitment to it and invest so much in building it,” she said. “We have always been at the forefront of efforts to explain why the KP matters so much.”
“In recent months it has become more and more challenging to justify to the world why we still support it,” Dunnebacke added.
While the Zimbabwe issue has taken center stage at the meeting, many are hoping it won’t dominate the agenda.
“My personal hope is that the meeting won’t be overshadowed by Zimbabwe, that some focus can put on all the good things being done in KP,” said one senior KP delegate who requested to remain anonymous.
Israel’s KP chairman Boaz Hirsch noted the work outside the Zimbabwe issue that his office has undertaken since assuming the chairmanship in January. He explained that Israel is focused on three core issues through its year at the KP helm. These include creating an annual roadmap that will build on KP enforcement capacities; to enable stronger administrative capabilities through the creation of an office for administration and support; and the formation of a working group on trade facilitation.
However, Hirsch noted that much of this week’s meeting would be dedicated to the implementation of the KP’s joint work plan for Zimbabwe.
“In this regard, difficult decisions await us that will affect the international diamond community in all its various facets,” he said. “The KP standards must and will be upheld. At the same time, consideration will be given to the uniqueness and special needs of each participant, and efforts will not be spared in order to find the ways and means to accommodate it.”
by Admin on June 23rd, 2010
A Zimbabwe court has denied bail to Farai Maguwu, the head of a local nongovernment organization (NGO) focused on monitoring abuses around the Marange diamond fields, despite pressure from global human rights groups to free him.
Maguwu was arrested in early June and charged with providing false information to Kimberley Process (KP) monitor Abbey Chikane during Chikane’s recent visit to Zimbabwe. Following their scheduled meeting, police raided the offices of the Centre for Research and Development (CRD), confiscating Maguwu’s computer, work documents and car and forcing him into hiding. He subsequently turned himself in.
Chikane met with Maguwu as part of his research to assess Zimbabwe’s compliance with the KP’s minimum standards at the Marange mine. Maguwu allegedly presented Chikane with documents “stolen” from the authorities and outlining human rights abuses at Marange. Chikane has said that he was concerned the documents may incriminate him if found in his possession.
Sources familiar with the case told Rapaport News that a bail hearing was held Monday afternoon and that Maguwu’s case was turned down, which means he remains in custody.
Calls to release Maguwu have intensified in the past week as the KP opened its intercessional meeting in Tel Aviv on Monday, where Zimbabwe’s controversial participation in the scheme is being debated. Members of the civil society branch of the KP wore “Free Farai” t-shirts at the opening day, while others, including Israel’s KP chairman, Boaz Hirsch, referred to Maguwu in their addresses to the meeting.
“The arrest of Farai Maguwu created negative emotions and high tensions that threaten to divert us from the road toward an applicable solution, which will affect the international diamond community in all its various facets,” Hirsch said.
Maguwu became a prominent figure at the KP plenary meeting in November in Swakopmund, Namibia when he challenged the participation of the Zimbabwean government in the scheme. As the head of an NGO based in the Marange area, he has been vocal in monitoring the situation at the Marange mine. In May, he issued a report claiming that approximately 2,000 carats of diamonds were being smuggled each day by workers at the mine.
One Zimbabwe activist, who requested anonymity, said he suspects the authorities have deliberately detained Maguwu to prevent him from attending the Tel Aviv meeting, while World Diamond Federation (WDC) president Eli Izhakoff said Maguwu’s detention was an uncalled for and unjust attempt by the country’s government to suppress criticism.
Both Izhakoff and Global Witness campaigner Annie Dunneback called for Maguwu’s immediate and unconditional release.
“If one-third of the KP can’t do its job properly, the KP can’t work,” Dunneback said.
by Admin on June 23rd, 2010
Rona Peligal, acting director for Africa at Human Rights Watch (Tel Aviv) — The government of Zimbabwe has broken its promises under the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) work plan to improve abusive practices in its diamond fields and should formally be suspended from the Kimberley Process (KP), Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a 16-page report released today.
Participants in the KP — governments, the diamond industry and civil society groups that seek to eradicate the trade in blood diamonds — are meeting from June 21 to June 23, 2010 in Israel, which chairs the group this year. The ongoing human rights violations in and around Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields should be at the top of their agenda, HRW said.
“The Kimberley Process risks total irrelevance if it ignores these ongoing abuses,” said Rona Peligal, the acting director for Africa at HRW. “If the Kimberley Process can’t take real action on an issue like Zimbabwe, then what is it good for?”
HRW has received new reports that soldiers in Marange are engaging in forced labor, torture, beatings and harassment. HRW documented rampant killings and other abuses in Marange last year. Despite these ongoing abuses, Abbey Chikane, the South African monitor appointed by the KP to investigate conditions in the area, has recommended allowing diamond sales from Marange to resume.
As Zimbabwe recovers from a man-made humanitarian crisis, diamond revenues could provide the country with resources for improved education, health and nutrition, among other basic needs. In its research, HRW found that there is so little proper regulation of diamond mining that vast sums are leaving the country unaccounted for. The country’s finance minister, Tendai Biti, said in March that no revenue from Marange diamonds had yet reached state coffers. With an intensified military presence, diamond smuggling may actually have increased, benefiting only an elite few in the party of President Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), and its allies.
At its plenary meeting in November 2009 in Swakopmund, Namibia, KP members, rather than suspend Zimbabwe, called for the country to adhere to a work plan that Zimbabwe itself had proposed. The plan commits the country to a phased withdrawal of the armed forces from the diamond fields (but without specific time lines), directs police to provide security for the area and provides for a monitor, agreed upon by both Zimbabwe and the KP, to examine and certify that all shipments of diamonds from Marange meet KP standards.
Since November, the Zimbabwe government has allocated a small portion of the Marange diamond fields to two private firms with close links to high-ranking members of the armed forces and ZANU-PF. Large parts of the Marange area remain under direct military control.
Chikane has made two visits to Zimbabwe. His latest visit, in May, was marked by controversy. While he was there, Zimbabwean intelligence officials raided the Mutare office of a leading civil society organization, the Centre for Research and Development (CRD), two days after the group’s leader, Farai Maguwu, met with Chikane and discussed confidential information about the Zimbabwean armed forces’ continued presence in Marange.
Police beat up, arrested and detained members of Maguwu’s family. Facing threats to himself and his family, Maguwu felt forced to turn himself into the police. He is in jail, though he was not charged within the legally required 48 hours, and his family is in hiding, as are staff members of his organization. Chikane said that some of his notes were seized from his bags by intelligence agents, but he has neither called for an investigation nor publicly condemned the jailing of Maguwu.
“If Zimbabwe is jailing activists for writing about abuses connected to diamond mining, then it is hardly meeting the minimum standards for Kimberley Process membership,” Peligal said. “In addition, the chaos — and allegations — surrounding Chikane’s visit and his approach call into question the credibility, professionalism and integrity of his work.”
Chikane’s preliminary report, issued on March 21, following a visit that month, focused largely on the narrow technical aspects of diamond mining and played down the abuses in Marange. Although killings by Zimbabwean state agents are fewer in the area compared with the height of military repression in October 2008, local residents told HRW that there are new abuses and that they live in fear of the army.
As one community leader told HRW, “Soldiers routinely force us to mine for diamonds; if anyone refuses, they are tortured. Life in Marange is hell.”
HRW has repeatedly called on KP members to demand an end to human rights violations and smuggling in Marange and to insist on transparency and accountability within Zimbabwe’s diamond industry. The organization has also urged the global group to recognize human rights issues explicitly as a fundamental element of its mandate and raison d’être.
A member of the Parliament Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy, who was barred from visiting the area despite having the official responsibility to do so, told HRW, “Our natural resources in Marange are being looted on a massive scale daily. And yet government turns a blind eye and pretends all is well and wishes for the KPCS and the world to believe all is well in Marange.”