Session 4 - How could harmonising laws, tax regimes and approaches to the artisanal sector help to improve KP compliance and overcome shared problems?

 

And how could adopting a regional approach – including a shared certificate as in the EU – make for more cost effective compliance, better cooperation by law enforcement agencies, and successful regulation of the artisanal sector?

Claude Kabemba's picture

Director of the Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW)

October 30th, 2013

 

And how could adopting a regional approach – including a shared certificate as in the EU – make for more cost effective compliance, better cooperation by law enforcement agencies, and successful regulation of the artisanal sector?

A panellist blamed the international diamond industry for failing to reform and strengthen its self-regulatory structures. He argued that the people should not blame the continued existence of illegal diamonds solely on the inability of weak states to monitor and control the flow of diamonds within their boundaries, but also on the diamond industry for failing to identify illegal diamonds at the international level. Instead of measuring the success of the scheme by how many illegal or conflict diamonds entered the legal trade, it would be more progressive to measure its capacity to transform the social livelihoods of communities. It was suggested that the certification process has too many loopholes, which permit illegal diamonds to enter the legitimate system. Indeed, there are so many loopholes that the number of illegal diamonds entering the market is not known.

The panel also suggested that the nature of the diamond supply chain does not make it difficult for illegal diamonds to filter into the legitimate trade – and as a result, diamonds from conflict zones are making it into legitimate diamond retail markets. In addition, it was suggested that African diamond-producing countries should create an initiative that addresses their own problems and issues. Indeed, it is clear that a better governance mechanism is needed, which is capable of managing natural resources in Africa so that local communities benefit directly from diamond revenues.

Another panellist dismissed the view that KP is being used to punish African governments. He argued that the KP should be understood as an incentive rather than a tool to punish African countries. He suggested that the KP should stretch its mandate so that it monitors not only the mining and exportation of diamonds, but also all of Africa’s other natural resources. He argued that such a mandate is achievable through creation of national and regional offices to support the KP. These offices would strive to harmonise policies between different countries on the continent. He also identified the porous nature of most African borders as a key problem compromising the effectiveness of the KP.

Panellists discussed the situation in Liberia and Sierra Leone since both countries have succeeded in encouraging local artisanal miners to work closely with the KP by establishing mining cooperatives. Diamond mining cooperatives in these two countries have increased transparency because the local people understand the benefits that come with it – including peace and stability. In addition, the diamond mining industry goes beyond the adoption of the KP’s minimum requirements since the ultimate goal is to improve social livelihoods of communities through acquisition of diamond revenue at national level.

It was suggested that a diamond-mining sector of this nature is only achieved through harmonising laws, tax regimes and visions at regional level.

However, one panellist disagreed with the notion that Liberia was doing well with its artisanal mining, arguing that poor transparency in the artisanal diamond mining sector in Liberia was leading to diamonds leaving that country unrecorded. To counter the problem of porous borders in most parts of Africa, a panellist suggested that the KP should find ways to work with both KP member states and non-member states in an effort to trace the flow of diamonds.

It was argued that the diamond industry appears to be a ‘silent partner’ in the tripartite relationship and this lack of input is a real cause for concern since it makes it harder to improve the nature of the global diamond trade. One panellist suggested that it was probably difficult for diamond industry actors to find common ground on certain issues due to the size of the industry and the different interests driving different actors. It was suggested that one way of improving the diamond industry, especially in Africa, was to identify diamond industry actors who are willing to work with the KP and particularly civil society in improving local communities.

Discussions

An observation was made that the KP produces different results in different countries. In Lesotho, for example, it was argued that the diamond sector has been neglected yet the country is considered to be KP compliant.

The issue around communities was again raised where a participant argued that the KP seems to protect the interests of States and the diamond industry at the expense of local communities. He supported his view by stating that where there appears to be a formalised diamond industry, the KP interprets it as compliant but where locals are struggling to be recognised as legitimate artisanal miners, it is interpreted as illegal.

The KP was also criticised for failing to disseminate review reports to other member states and to the general public. Indeed, the KP’s capacity to monitor and hold governments to account has to be called into question if it is unable to produce or publicise country review reports. At this point it was emphasised that most country review missions are undertaken on a voluntary basis and as a result respective governments and KP monitors lack the political will to conduct a thorough review.

In relation to rebel groups, it was suggested that one way of dealing with them in diamond rich areas is by working with local communities and civil society groups. However, an effective relationship at that level can only develop when the diamond industry is transparent and accountable to its people. Local people need to trust their government for such a relationship to exist.

Finally, it was reiterated that the major challenge facing Africa’s diamond industry is the large number of artisanal miners on the continent. Not only would developing a record of all these artisanal miners cost a substantial amount but also most African countries are unable to create mechanisms capable of tracking diamonds produced in artisanal mining areas. It was suggested that African countries should come up with ways to formalise artisanal mining, including a comprehensive database, so that artisanal miners are incorporated into the legal diamond system.

About the author(s)

Claude Kabemba is the Director of the Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW). In 2006, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) asked him to spearhead the formation of SARW. He holds a PhD in International Relations (Political economy) at the University of the Witwatersrand (Thesis: Democratisation and the Political Economy of a Dysfunctional State: The Case of the Democratic Republic of Congo). Before joining SARW, he worked at the Human Sciences Research Council and the Electoral institute of Southern Africa as a Chief Research Manager and Research Manager respectively. He has also worked at the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the Centre for Policy Studies as Policy Analyst. Dr. Kabemba’s main areas of research interest include: Political economy of Sub Saharan Africa with focus on Southern and Central Africa looking specifically on issues of democratization and governance, natural resources governance, election politics, citizen participation, conflicts, media, political parties, civil society and social policies. He has consulted for international organizations such Oxfam, UNHCR, The Norwegian People’s Aid, Electoral Commissions and the African Union. He has undertaken various evaluations related to the work of Electoral Commissions and civil society groups interventions in the electoral process in many African countries. He is regularly approached by both local and international media for comments on political and social issues on the continent. His publication record spans from books (as editor), book chapters, journal articles, monographs, research reports, and newspaper articles.

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