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November 13, 2018

Diamond industry urged to improve human rights record

A group of civil society organisations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch has called on the diamond industry to unveil relevant clean-up measures to address its track record related to human rights abuses and other trade practices.

A group of civil society organisations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch has called on the diamond industry to unveil relevant clean-up measures to address its track record related to human rights abuses and other trade practices.

Other participants in the coalition include Enough Project, Global Witness and IMPACT.

Members of the international community, comprising participating countries, industry representatives and civil society, are meeting in Brussels for the Kimberley Process Plenary.

The annual meeting involves discussions regarding the implementation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), which is used by governments to certify rough diamonds as conflict-free.

The coalition has noted that rebel groups are cashing in on the loopholes in the Kimberley Process’ existing definition of a conflict diamond.

IMPACT Executive Director Joanne Lebert said: “Time is up for the diamond industry. Image is everything to the value of diamonds, yet the industry continues to be tainted by association with human rights abuses like child labour and forced labour, as well as conflict, environmental damage, and corruption.

“If the diamond industry genuinely wants to address these issues, it needs to clean-up its act and no longer approach respect for human rights and responsible business as an optional exercise.”

The civil society group has also urged the industry to live up to the promise of ensuring the diamonds purchased by customers are sourced, traded, and processed responsibly.

Last month, the World Diamond Council (WDC) members approved a new set of reforms to the existing self-regulation instrument, known as the System of Warranties.

Under the new reforms, the diamond industry is focused on enhancing customers’ trust on the way diamonds are sourced, processed and traded.

“If the diamond industry genuinely wants to address these issues, it needs to clean-up its act.”

However, Amnesty and its coalition partners are not convinced with the effectiveness of the latest reforms introduced by the diamond industry.

Global Witness Campaign Leader Sophia Pickles said: “This so-called upgrade by the WDC to its self-regulation guidelines appears to be more of a token attempt to appease criticism of the diamond industry’s failings than a real step towards ensuring that the diamond trade does not continue to fuel human rights abuses.”

The partners highlighted the need to align the System of Warranties with international standards on business and human rights, including the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas.

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