Diamonds for Peace (DFP) held a series of four webinars in the fall of 2020 so that more people could get to know about various issues surrounding diamonds.
In the first webinar titled “Issues Surrounding Diamonds and DFP’s Proposed Solutions” on Saturday 3rd October 2020, Chie Murakami, the Founder and Executive Director of DFP, did a presentation about the issues surrounding diamonds, such as human rights abuses, environmental destruction and poverty. Also the solutions including support for the operation of mining cooperatives and the beekeeping activity for income generation, which DFP was working on to help solve these issues.
24 participants joined the webinar, and they asked a wide range of questions about certification of DFP’s Sourced with Love campaign, how DFP is funded, the difference in decision making powers of diggers and miners, what other agencies are working in Liberia on similar issues etc.
In the second webinar titled “Voices from Botswana Diamond Mines”on Saturday 17th October 2020, Mr. Kitso Phiri, the Executive Secretary of Botswana Mining and Allied Workers Union (BMWU) was invited to speak. He outlined the diamond sector in Botswana and spoke about challenges the diamond miners are facing, such as low wages, and poor working conditions and environmental challenges.
14 participants joined the webinar, and they posed many interesting questions, for example, the localization plans for cutting and polishing diamonds and the challenges of implementation and monitoring with Botswana’s Ministry of Labour and Ministry of Resources. Also, as the Botswana Diamond Mines are such a good news story, if the jewelry trade finds it harder to tackle remaining issues and if the Jewelry Council should start routine monitoring of suppliers. There were questions about women’s roles in Botswana mining communities and the percentage of diamond mining companies that have gruesome conditions.
In the third webinar titled “Voices from Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition” on Wednesday 28th October 2020, two speakers were invited:
Mr. Shamiso Mtisi, Global Coordinator of the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition (KPCSC) and Deputy Director of Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA)
Dr. Hans Merket, Researcher of International Peace Information Service (IPIS)
41 participants joined the webinar. In the first half, Shamiso expressed concern that diamonds are nowadays deteriorated by new forms of “conflict”: human rights abuses such as violence and rape, and environmental destruction in mines in countries including Zimbabwe, and low labor standards in cutting factories. Despite this these diamonds are officially certified as “conflict-free” by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KP) and then distributed to the international markets. In the second half, Hans appreciated that the global efforts by the KP against conflict diamonds have achieved certain results, but there are drawbacks of lax management and lack of transparency in the diamond mining sector in exporting countries, a narrow definition of “conflict diamonds” and taboo of raising human rights issues. The question-and-answer session was active with many questions such as whether artisanal and large scale mining face the same issues, why company guards set dogs on locals who enter the mining concessions. Also how the KPCSC has spoken out about the trade in conflict diamonds that violate human rights throughout the diamond sector and if all KP members are listening to expanding the definition of conflict diamonds. If there are other international organizations who are expanding the assurance scope of natural diamonds and what weak peer reviews lack or don’t address.
In the fourth webinar titled “Emerging Technology for Transparent Supply Chains” on Friday 13th November 2020, 40 participants joined Ms. Carrie George, Vice President, Head of Sustainability Solutions for Everledger.
She made a presentation on the company’s blockchain technology and service that integrates information in a passport of a product. This includes not only the place of origin, whether it is a gem or mineral such as rough diamond, or a product such as clothes, but also third-party certification and human rights/environmental protection provided by local NGO partners. She emphasized that, with blockchain, they could gather and manage proper information efficiently in complex supply chains, and this led to improvement in transparency and credibility. In addition, she showed an interview video with Fairphone, a Dutch smartphone manufacturer that makes advanced efforts for traceability of minerals. In the video, they stressed the importance of understanding problems related to artisanal and small scale miners, and improving them by continuous efforts with communities’ ownership. They also mentioned that it was important to work together with other companies, the United Nation’s organizations and NGOs to improve supply chains.
The question-and-answer session was active with many questions such as how many NGOs face difficulties with financing when funds go to high risk areas and how technology can improve the trust of banks so accounts or transactions don’t get blocked, when engaging with new beneficiary countries in Africa and Asia, how are supply chains monitored and who are the other major corporate social responsibility contributors involved. Also what are the most vulnerable points in the blockchain system, whether it is always the right tool or is it combined with other tools to make it accessible to small scale miners, at what point are stones are entered, how are data points brought into the system by Everledger, artisanal miners and supply chain traders/exporters. Also could Everledger technology address the discrepancies concerning human rights and environmental issues shown on some mining company webpages and what’s happening on the ground and if Everledger work directly with indigenous communities to monitor land issues etc and how the obstacles with governments are faced. Other questions included whether the Fairphone cobalt project is active and how large gold refiners using their own technology are going to implement EU regulation in 2021.
In response to the spread of COVID-19 infection, DFP held webinars for the first time, and this became a good opportunity to talk about our work to many people such as supporters who live far away and therefore could not participate in seminars physically, and those who got to know DFP through this webinar series.
We are happy to have provided opportunities for you to know more about issues surrounding diamonds from different angles by inviting guest speakers from over the world who have worked on such issues at different levels and in different ways.
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