AFOPA Media Release, 17 December 2017
Blood Diamonds - Major Breakthrough in Brisbane
The Australian Friends of Palestine Association Applauds the Decision of Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, IMPACT’s, Announcement that it is Leaving the Conflict Diamonds Certification Scheme
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme plenary has just finished in Brisbane and failed to broaden the definition of a 'conflict diamond' to include all blood diamonds and not just the rough diamonds that fund rebel violence. As a result a founding civil society member has announced that it is leaving the Kimberley Process.
The Canadian-based non-profit organization IMPACT on 14 December announced it is leaving the conflict diamond certification scheme known as the Kimberley Process.
The announcement came at the end of the Kimberley Process Plenary held in Brisbane from December 9-14, during which members were to discuss and adopt needed reforms. The scheme goes through a reform cycle every five years.
IMPACT played a crucial role in the establishment of the Kimberley Process. It was IMPACT’s research into the conflict in Sierra Leone in 2000 that created the first report drawing the link between diamonds and the financing of conflicts. This led to international attention and action on conflict diamonds. As a result in 2003 IMPACT was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for its work to end the trade of conflict diamonds.
Along with members of the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition, IMPACT had called for an expanded definition of conflict diamonds. The definition currently in use limits “conflict diamonds” to those used by rebel groups to finance their activities to overthrow governments. It remains silent on abuses perpetrated by governments themselves or private security firms.
We congratulate IMPACT on their persistent work in attempting to ensure that the Scheme regulates conflict diamonds. We thank them for their work in Australia to push forward reforms that would make the KPCS an organization that has integrity and the ability to effect change.
This is the same call the Australian Friends of Palestine Association has made during the course of 2017 through their street activism and social media campaign asking Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, who chaired the first meetings in May, to ensure that the KPCS honoured their commitment to rid the world of diamonds funding human rights abuses. Hundreds of emails were sent without one acknowledgement or reply.
Australia, as chair of the KPCS in 2017, failed to live up to its responsibilities and the KPCS must be considered unfit for its original purpose as it gives a free pass to blood diamonds. These are the same blood diamonds funding the Israeli military which stands accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the UN Human Rights Council, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
We applaud IMPACT’s decision to depart from the KPCS at this time and we fully support Joanne Lebert, Executive Director of IMPACT, when she says "We have come to the conclusion that the Kimberley Process has lost its will to be an effective mechanism for responsible diamond governance."
We hope that other members of the Kimberley Process follow IMPACT’s lead and withdraw their support for the Scheme until it seriously regulates all diamonds that profit from human rights abuses.
Media Contact for AFOPA:
Dr David Faber, (+61) 08 8410 9796
AFOPA Secretary, (+61) 0414 773 918
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