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Marange Diamonds Still Tarnished

An illegal diamond dealer from Zimbabwe displays diamonds for sale in Manica, near the border with Zimbabwe. (file)

Governments, NGOs and leaders of the diamond industry met to keep "conflict diamonds" from entering the market.

Governments, NGOs and leaders of the diamond industry met recently in Kinshasha, Democratic Republic of Congo, as part of the Kimberley Process, a group tasked with keeping "conflict diamonds" from entering the market. At the top of the agenda was the need to review the situation in the troubled Marange fields in Eastern Zimbabwe.

Human rights abuses have taken place against artisinal miners there, smuggling is said to be widespread and profits are not accruing to the national treasury. Because of these problems, the Kimberley Process continues to struggle with the question of authorizing exports of Marange stones, which have largely been restricted for a year and a half.

The DRC currently heads the Kimberley Process. At the conclusion of the meeting in Kinshasa, the DRC issued a notice stating that exports from Marange could resume with some monitoring. The United States is deeply disappointed with the decision, which was not achieved with the full consensus of the group.

The Kimberley Process can only work when producing and consuming countries collaborate. Toward this end, the U.S. will continue its efforts with other members to reach consensus on the way forward. Despite the continued challenges surrounding Marange, we welcome the work being done on effective diamond sector governance by a number of producing countries, such as the Central African Republic, Ghana, Guinea and Liberia. Important contributions are also being made by USAID and the US Geological Survey as we work to improve internal controls and overall development outcomes in the artisanal diamond sector.