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Diamond Extraction (Zimbabwe)

Volume 527: debated on Tuesday 3 May 2011

19. What recent steps he has taken to ensure that diamond extraction standards in Zimbabwe comply with the monitoring standards under the Kimberley process. (53540)

The FCO hosted an EU Kimberley process planning meeting ahead of the Kimberley process meeting in Dubai on 14 April. We are working with the EU to push for a robust agreement to ensure Zimbabwean compliance with the Kimberley process, and that includes strengthening the role of the Kimberley process monitor. The good news is that we have helped to secure broad international support for a new monitoring team led by Mark van Bockstael.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the proceeds of the diamonds should go to the Zimbabwean treasury? What pressure can be placed on the Zimbabwean Government to ensure that civil society is included in the decision-making process?

The Marange diamond proceeds have the potential to bring literally hundreds of United States dollars into the Zimbabwe exchequer. Last year $38 million—the first tranche—did get through, but I am disturbed by reports that hard-line elements are benefiting from the Marange mine. I entirely agree with my hon. Friend: it is essential for us to have a strong civil society involvement, and that is why the appointment of a new civil society focal point will play such a vital role in increasing transparency.

Is the Minister frustrated by the hampering of our negotiations on Zimbabwe diamonds as a result of our having to reach agreement through the sluggish EU? Does he agree that it would be better for us to adopt a more robust position on our own terms?

It is worth bearing in mind that since the start of the Kimberley process, roughly 99% of the world trade in rough diamonds is now Kimberley-compliant. That is a huge improvement on the previous position. As for my hon. Friend’s point about the EU, he has made a very interesting suggestion, and I will certainly examine it.