Photo of Lord Chidgey

Lord Chidgey (Liberal Democrat)

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the current state of the Kimberley Process, in particular with regard to (1) the authorisation of exports from two companies operating in the Marange diamond fields in Zimbabwe, and (2) the withdrawal of Global Witness from the Kimberley Process.

Photo of Lord Howell of Guildford

Lord Howell of Guildford (Conservative)

The Kimberley Process, established in 2003, is an important conflict prevention mechanism that brings increased transparency, regulation and accountability to the global rough diamond trade and reduces the role of rough diamonds in financing conflict. The Kimberley Process now has 50 members representing 76 countries and accounts for over 99 per cent of the global production and trade of rough diamonds. Kimberley Process experts estimate that conflict diamonds have fallen from around 15 per cent of the global rough diamond trade in the 1990s to less than 1 per cent today. The UK is committed to ensuring that the Kimberley Process remains an important and credible mechanism for the prevention of conflict. We are therefore working with international partners to reform the Kimberley Process to help it better address the challenges facing the global diamond trade, in particular in relation to human rights abuses, which the Kimberley Process does not explicitly address.

I am pleased that agreement was reached on Zimbabwe diamonds at the Kimberley Process Plenary in Kinshasa in November. The agreement is robust but fair. It allows Zimbabwe only to export diamonds from the Marange region that comply with Kimberley Process standards, whilst establishing a credible independent monitoring mechanism to ensure those standards are respected, including a role for civil society. The agreement commits Zimbabwe to take action to bring all mining in Marange into compliance with Kimberley Process minimum standards. The agreement also increases the likelihood that revenues from the export of Kimberley Process-compliant diamonds will benefit the Zimbabwean people. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and respond appropriately to any future developments. We urge all Kimberley Process partners, including Zimbabwe, to firmly uphold Kimberley Process principles and standards in the future.

We are disappointed that Global Witness has decided to leave the Kimberley Process. As one of the founder members of the Kimberley Process, Global Witness has been a key partner in raising standards in the global diamond supply chain. Despite leaving the Kimberley Process, we hope that Global Witness will continue to engage with international efforts to strengthen and reform the Kimberley Process, as well as efforts to raise standards in the diamond supply chain.

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