The Chair of the Kimberley Process (KP) Welile Nhlapo has called on the United States to lift sanctions on Zimbabwean diamond mines in the controversial Marange area.
Nhlapo congratulated the European Union (EU) for moving in September to lift sanctions after Zimbabwe’s July 31 elections won by President Robert Mugabe.
He told the KP’s Plenary Meeting in Johannesburg, "We hope that those who continue to maintain such sanctions will also be able to lift them because the lifting of these sanctions would assist Zimbabwe to bring stability and prosperity once again."
The EU lifted sanctions against the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), the firm that controls the Marange diamond fields, but the United States has declined to follow suit.
Zimbabwe's Mines Minister Walter Chidakwa said the EU’s lead would enable the country to trade in Antwerp. "I hope that in December we will be able to make a full comeback into Antwerp."
The KP is debating the work of the organization and some members are calling for reform. "There are still several challenges we need to deal with," said Shamiso Mtisi, the civil society representative in the Kimberley Process. He also spoke on the subject of human rights abuses in Angola which is aiming to be vice chair of the KP in 2014.
There are also calls for a re-definition of the term ‘blood diamond’, which Partnership Africa Canada researcher Alan Martin, said had become "very outdated".
Nhlapo, along with many African and other states, fear that expanding the responsibility of the KP would threaten "its very credibility and existence".
"The KP was not created to end conflict, or to end human rights abuses or to take retributive action against sovereign states," he added.