- Asked to call a plenary meeting of the Kimberly Process
Botswana has found itself at the centre of the international boycott of Russian diamonds mainly by Western countries over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The move by United States and the European Union to place economic sanctions on Russia is affecting international diamond certification efforts, with Botswana being sucked into the controversy.
The Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition, a group of non-governmental organisations that has observer status at the Kimberly Process, has petitioned Botswana – which holds this year’s Kimberley Process chairmanship – to call a plenary meeting on the matter.
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) is an inter-governmental initiative in partnership with civil society and industry players to “certify shipments of rough diamonds as ‘conflict-free’ and prevent conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate trade” according to Kimberly website.
The decision by the KP Civil Society to petition Botswana to call a plenary meeting comes at a time when the country is vying to host a permanent new headquarters and secretariat for the Kimberley Process. Reports indicate that Botswana, which took over the rotating chairmanship of the Kimberley Process plenary from Russia after its last session in November last year, will compete for hosting the watchdog’s permanent secretariat with China and Austria.
Said Dr Michel Yoboue, KP Civil Society Coalition Coordinator (GRPIE), in a statement: “The Coalition in particular appeals to Botswana as (the) 2022 Kimberley Process Chair to call a dedicated KP plenary meeting to establish if and which measures are required to secure that diamonds produced in Russia or by Alrosa do not contribute to financing this conflict.” He said the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition (KP CSC) is gravely concerned with the deteriorating human rights situation in Ukraine following the invasion of the country by the Russian Federation.
“We feel deep sorrow that yet another violent conflict is causing loss of lives and human suffering. We strongly condemn all violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and call on the Russian Federation to immediately and unconditionally end its aggression,” he said, adding that the KP CSC has a specific mission to ensure that diamonds contribute to peace and prosperity rather than conflict and misery.
“With this aim, we have always and continue to call on industry and governments in diamond producing, trading and manufacturing countries to make sure that diamond revenues do not contribute to financing conflict, violence or human rights abuse,” he said. “The KPCSC notes that the Russian Federation and the diamond mining company Alrosa – in which the Russian Federation holds a 33 percent share – are respectively the largest diamond producer country and diamond mining company in the world, and thus have a considerable and global impact on this sector,” said Yoboue.
Therefore, he called upon governments, industry and the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme to ascertain that diamonds produced in Russia or by Russia’s state-owned diamond miner Alrosa do not contribute to financing conflict. The Botswana Government could not be reached for comment as the Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Lefoko Moagi’s phone was off.
In a statement recently, De Beers Group said following US President Joe Biden’s executive order prohibiting the import of diamonds from Russia into the United States, it encourages retailers to buy with confidence by engaging with their suppliers to understand the origin of their diamonds. “Every diamond that De Beers Group sells is discovered at one of our mines in Botswana, Canada, Namibia or South Africa,” it said. “De Beers Group is committed to working with sightholders to support the United States’ demand needs and to provide the origin and impact of every diamond we discover and sell.”