Venezuela is a charter member of the Kimberley Process, the certification system which oversees the global trade of diamonds and tries to keep those tainted by conflict out of general circulation. Despite their voluntary participation since 2003, Partnership Africa Canada reports that Venezuela has submitted no statistical information and no annual reports after the first quarter of 2005. Venezuela annually produces an estimated 150,000 carats of diamonds, but has officially exported none since January 2005.
The country has routinely ignored the requests for information by KP officials, finally attending two Kimberley Process meetings during 2007. The country said it would permit an international review team to visit during the first quarter of 2008. According to Rapaport News, Different dates for the review have since come and gone, with silence from Venezuela.
A team of international advocacy organizations have come together to call for Venezuela’s expulsion from the Kimberley Process to maintain the integrity of the certification scheme. The groups include the Centre du Commerce international pour le Développement of Conakry, the Centre National d’Appui au Développement et à la Participation of Kinshasa, Fatal Transactions located in Amsterdam, Global Witness of London, Green Advocates of Monrovia, the Network Movement for Justice and Development of Freetown, and Partnership Africa Canada from Ottawa.
Abu Brima of Sierra Leone’s Network Movement for Justice and Development says: “The KPCS is a voluntary system. Nobody is forcing Venezuela to be a member. If it wants to assist in the fight against the conflict diamonds that ravaged Africa, that is good. If it wants to be a respected member of the world’s diamond producing and trading countries, that too is good. But it must meet KPCS minimum standards.”
From Annie Dunnebacke of Global Witness: “Venezuela has blatantly rejected several Administrative Decisions calling for KP peer review visits. Venezuela should stop wasting the time of the Kimberley Process, and the Kimberley Process should stop wasting its own time on Venezuela. KP ineptitude sends a disastrous message to other countries for whom participation is expensive and time-consuming. The Kimberley Process must now expel Venezuela from its ranks.”
For more information on the current state of Venezuela’s diamond trade:
Unregulated diamond mining wreaks environmental havoc in Venezuela (San Francisco Chronicle, Sept 23, 2007)