Consumer faith in the scheme to halt the trade in conflict diamonds will falter if an effective monitoring code is not put in place. This warning comes from ActionAid in the run up to the Kimberley Process meeting being held in Sun City, South Africa.
Impartial monitoring will be a dominant topic at the meeting. ActionAid argues that unless Kimberley Process members agree to a strong code on monitoring, the trade will remain open to abuse and diamonds will suffer a crisis of consumer credibility.
A survey into UK consumer attitudes to conflict diamonds commissioned by ActionAid this year found that 25% of people now know about conflict diamonds, compared to 9% in May 2000. A further 70% would not want to buy diamond jewellery without conflict-free guarantees.
Currently the Kimberley Process scheme does not require regular impartial monitoring of how diamond laws and regulations are put into practice in participating countries. ActionAid spokeswoman Bethan Brookes says: “No regulatory trade or environmental agreement is credible without an impartial monitoring system and the Kimberley Process is no exception. This is a loophole through which conflict diamonds can slip".
In the UK ActionAid, together with other agencies and the Co-operative Bank, has devised a diamond pledge. Signatories are calling on the Kimberley Process to include regular, impartial monitoring of all participant countries and for meaningful action by the diamond trade to stamp out conflict diamonds. Up to 5,000 people have already signed the pledge including celebrities such as the actresses Jenny Seagrove, Janet Suzman, Joanna Lumley and Emily Watson.
“The commitment of high street jewellers to their customers over conflict-free jewellery can only be as good as the guarantees that accompany rough diamonds. Without independent checks there is a danger that any guarantees are worthless.
“The public are concerned. They don’t want the diamonds they wear to be tainted by war and atrocity. But without strict monitoring, the chain of guarantees on which retailers rely is called into question,” says Bethan Brookes