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Diamond Extraction (Zimbabwe)

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 3rd May 2011.

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Photo of Oliver Colvile Oliver Colvile Conservative, Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport 2:30 pm, 3rd May 2011

What recent steps he has taken to ensure that diamond extraction standards in Zimbabwe comply with the monitoring standards under the Kimberley process.

Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

The FCO hosted an EU Kimberley process planning meeting ahead of the Kimberley process meeting in Dubai on 14 April. We are working with the EU to push for a robust agreement to ensure Zimbabwean compliance with the Kimberley process, and that includes strengthening the role of the Kimberley process monitor. The good news is that we have helped to secure broad international support for a new monitoring team led by Mark van Bockstael.

Photo of Oliver Colvile Oliver Colvile Conservative, Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport

Does my hon. Friend agree that the proceeds of the diamonds should go to the Zimbabwean treasury? What pressure can be placed on the Zimbabwean Government to ensure that civil society is included in the decision-making process?

Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

The Marange diamond proceeds have the potential to bring literally hundreds of United States dollars into the Zimbabwe exchequer. Last year $38 million—the first tranche—did get through, but I am disturbed by reports that hard-line elements are benefiting from the Marange mine. I entirely agree with my hon. Friend: it is essential for us to have a strong civil society involvement, and that is why the appointment of a new civil society focal point will play such a vital role in increasing transparency.

Photo of Zac Goldsmith Zac Goldsmith Conservative, Richmond Park

Is the Minister frustrated by the hampering of our negotiations on Zimbabwe diamonds as a result of our having to reach agreement through the sluggish EU? Does he agree that it would be better for us to adopt a more robust position on our own terms?

Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

It is worth bearing in mind that since the start of the Kimberley process, roughly 99% of the world trade in rough diamonds is now Kimberley-compliant. That is a huge improvement on the previous position. As for my hon. Friend’s point about the EU, he has made a very interesting suggestion, and I will certainly examine it.