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Global Witness Leaves Kimberley Process, Blood Diamond Prevention Scheme

Global Witness Blood Diamonds

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 12/05/11 03:25 PM ET Updated: 12/05/11 04:39 PM ET

An International NGO at the forefront of investigating the illicit trade of blood diamonds has announced it will be leaving the United Nations-backed Kimberley Process.

Global Witness said in a statement Monday that the group is pulling out of the conflict-free diamond certification program due to what they called its inability "to evolve and address the clear links between diamonds, violence and tyranny."

Launched January 2003 and named after a UN meeting in Kimberley, South Africa, the Kimberley Process program aims to trace the illicit trade of blood diamonds, with governments certifying that shipments of rough diamonds aren't fueling wars or other violence.

Nevertheless, Reuters reports the program can't guarantee diamonds are conflict-free, pointing to several abuses across Africa where companies still mine for rough diamonds despite reported human rights abuses.

In announcing their departure from the program, Global Witness Founding Director Charmian Gooch wrote on specific shortcomings:

"The scheme has failed three tests: it failed to deal with the trade in conflict diamonds from Cote d'Ivoire, was unwilling to take serious action in the face of blatant breaches of the rules over a number of years by Venezuela and has proved unwilling to stop diamonds fueling corruption and violence in Zimbabwe."

Despite Human Rights Watch and Global Witness citing abuses in Zimbabwe's mines, the Kimberley Process still gave the green light in November for two companies to export diamonds from the Marange diamond field in Zimbabwe, according to the BBC.

Global Witness has long played a key role in monitoring conflict, corruption and natural resources. In 1997, the unknown NGO first discovered that diamonds were fueling war in West Africa. In late 1998, it launched a campaign that first drew the world's attention to the blood diamond issue.

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