Report Calls for Greater Action to Curb Conflict Diamonds

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, 6 June 2003

Nairobi—Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), a Canadian NGO, has criticised what it terms a lack of follow-up on a 2002 UN report on diamond exploitation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

In a report issued on Thursday, the NGO said the UN Security Council must take immediate action to halt all unofficial diamond exports.

PAC's report, Motherhood, Apple Pie and False Teeth: Corporate Social Responsibility in the Diamond Industry, examined the findings of the UN study, which referred to guidelines used by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to criticise companies alleged to be engaged in bribery, tax fraud, embezzlement and extortion in the Congolese diamond industry.

However, the PAC report termed the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises as toothless and virtually unknown to companies, whether or not they are involved in such behaviour.

The UN Expert Panel on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the DRC was reconvened in Nairobi, Kenya, at the end of March. In addition to hearing reactions from parties named in its 2002 report, the panel's new six-month mandate included a review and analysis of information gathered; an assessment of the impact of actions taken by governments in response to its previous recommendations; and formulation of recommendations to a transitional government due to be inaugurated in the DRC and other governments in the region to ensure the legal and fair exploitation of the country's resources.

PAC also criticised the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme for Rough Diamonds, which came into effect on 1 January, saying it lacked teeth although it was a step in the right direction. Without provision for regular independent monitoring of national control mechanisms, PAC said, the certification scheme allowed companies and countries that have traded in blood diamonds for the past decade to continue regulating themselves. The Kimberly Process will do nothing to stop conflict diamonds where they still exist, and it will do nothing to prevent their return where controls are weak and predators are strong, PAC reported.