Monday, July 11, 2011

Switzerland rejects unilateral decision on Zim diamonds

By Alex Bell
05 July 2011

Switzerland has become the latest country to reject a unilateral decision to allow Zimbabwe to export diamonds from the Chiadzwa diamond fields, a move that has further undermined the credibility of the Kimberley Process (KP).

A meeting of KP members in the DRC last month ended with no consensus on Zimbabwe’s trade future, with mainly western nations still concerned about conditions at Chiadzwa. But despite these concerns and ongoing reports of human rights abuses and smuggling, the KP’s Chairman, Mathieu Yamba (from the DRC), announced at the end of the meeting that Zimbabwe had the green light to resume exporting.
A number of KP members, including the US, Canada, Israel and now Switzerland, have all rejected this announcement, insisting that no consensus was reached. KP decisions are meant to be made and implemented only after consensus among members of the monitoring body.
The Geneva based Zimbabwe Advocacy Office, together with its partner group Bread For All, this week slammed Yamba’s decision, saying it has “further undermined the credibility” of the KP. The group’s Marlon Zakeyo told SW Radio Africa that the decision could deal a “devastating blow” to the future of the KP, with some analysts predicting that the global watchdog could collapse.
“The international diamond industry and consumers have all come to rely on the KP, and if it is going to be undermined in this way then it will be serious blow to all,” Zakeyo said.

Switzerland’s decision to reject the decision on Zimbabwe comes as previously confiscated shipments of Chiadzwa diamonds have been released for sale by the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The 14 shipments, which total about US$160 million, had been held by Dubai customs since last November. It’s understood the shipments have now been shipped to India, all as a result of the KP’s announcement on Zimbabwe.

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