Magazine article New African

Conflict Diamonds the Kimberley Process for Corruption: Conflict Diamonds Alone Are Not the Problem. the Easy Access to Overseas Secret Bank Accounts Is an Enabling Factor. without Clamping Down on These Secret Bank Accounts, the Kimberley Process Is Just like Closing the Barn Door at the Front Only to Open a New Gate at the Back to Let the Cows Out

Magazine article New African

Conflict Diamonds the Kimberley Process for Corruption: Conflict Diamonds Alone Are Not the Problem. the Easy Access to Overseas Secret Bank Accounts Is an Enabling Factor. without Clamping Down on These Secret Bank Accounts, the Kimberley Process Is Just like Closing the Barn Door at the Front Only to Open a New Gate at the Back to Let the Cows Out

Article excerpt

In Africa, as elsewhere, things sometimes happen in stark terms. But, the murky middle this time is the solution offered by the Kimberley Process, which is commonly recognised as the tool to prevent the use of "conflict diamonds" to support wars in troubled countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone and Angola. It is even praised in some quarters as the most definitive answer to that vexing problem to date.

The Kimberley Process assumes that only diamonds from government controlled areas will reach markets under the protection of certificates of origin issued under its regime. But in the final analysis, the certificate issuance will be left in the hands of state officials in countries with diamond industries. The latter may be a false assumption or too hopeful.

The oil industries in Africa have some kind of origin certificates, but look at what has happened in Nigeria and Angola, two of the continent's foremost oil giants.

No one would deny the correlation between corruption and the chaos on the continent of Africa. Neither can it even be argued that atrocities do not find fertile grounds on the continent because of corruption. Africa is where conflict diamonds come from.

It is therefore no surprise that the Kimberley Process started in May 2000, in the city of Kimberley, South Africa.

On 1 December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly also approved a resolution that made known the world's disapproval of illicit transaction of rough diamonds to support armed conflicts.

At the same time the General Assembly recognised "that legitimate diamonds contribute to prosperity and development" of countries and the need to keep the diamond trade within proper channels.

However, until the shock of September 11 (2001), conflict diamonds caused little concern in the West. After that date, it became obvious to powers there that leaving troubled places in Africa, with diamond resources unguarded is turning the key of the mint factory over to terrorists to fund their worldwide operations. The negotiation that started in South Africa in May 2000 was to culminate in the formation and adoption of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) in Interlaken, Switzerland, in November 2002.

Now, how rebel groups funded their operations was no longer inconsequential. As Amnesty International puts it:

"The conflict in the DRCongo has claimed over three million lives [4.7m by other estimates] since 1998 and has been characterised by gross human rights abuses. Many of these abuses are linked to the struggle over the country's immense natural wealth, including diamonds ..."

Amnesty International got it correct, but on the history side partially incorrect. The killings and the human rights abuses in Congo started as early as 1960, when Moise Tsombe with the help of the Belgian and other Western governments seceded the Katanga province, the most resource rich region in Congo.

Since 1960, the world has watched the Congo boil. Had Amnesty International counted back to 1960, the death toll would be greater than it opined. There is no way however for Amnesty to quantify the misery and the opportunities lost during all this period of turmoil.

Nevertheless, the turmoil that started in Kantaga would later serve as a model for UNITA in Angola. Similarly, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) of Sierra Leone would takeoff after the same model. At the bottom of it all was a glaring fact: the ease with which diamonds provided the where-withal to fight insurgency wars. …

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