IMPACT, previously known as Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), has left the Kimberley Process because it is giving consumers “false confidence” about where their stones come from, according to a news report.
“There’s no meaningful assurance that a diamond is conflict free,” Joanne Lebert, executive director at IMPACT, was quoted by the Financial Times as saying.
“The public is under the wrong impression that the problem is solved. I think it’s time to challenge that narrative again.”
The Kimberley Process, currently under the leadership of the European Union (EU), was established in 2003 to prevent diamonds being used to fund rebel groups in Africa.
The diamond watchdog claimed that 99.8 percent of the stones on the market were conflict free.
However, Harrison Mitchell, director at responsible sourcing consultancy RCS Global said the withdrawal of one of the last international observers and a founding NGO from the Kimberley Process should be of great concern to champions of the programme and the diamond industry.
IMPACT said last month that it would continue working with the Kimberley Process members who “genuinely” seek to end the trade of conflict and illicit diamonds, through traceability and due diligence.
The NGO had been calling for an expanded conflict diamond definition as the current one limits “conflict diamonds” to only those used by rebel groups to finance their activities to overthrow governments, and remains silent on abuses perpetrated by governments themselves or private security firms.
IMPACT, together with other NGOs, also called for reforms to reinforce internal controls at national and regional levels to strengthen traceability and minimise illicit trade.
It claimed that the Kimberley Process did not make enough progress on any of the reforms.
“We have come to the conclusion that the Kimberley Process has lost its will to be an effective mechanism for responsible diamond governance,” Lebert said in December 2017.
“We have also noted a growing tolerance for personalized attacks against civil society members of the Kimberley Process and attempts to undermine the independence and credibility of Civil Society Coalition.”