World Diamond Council advocates for Africa's artisanal diamond miners at international forum

During her opening address at the 6th Forum of the Africa-Belgium Business Week, Marie-Chantal Kaninda, executive director of the World Diamond Council, told global leaders that expanding the scope of the Kimberley Process to include issues related to human rights and labor relations will help create conditions in which Sub-Saharan Africa's artisanal diamond miners can meet their economic potential and support the development of their countries' economies.

With Faustin-Archange Touadéra, President of the Central African Republic, and Charles Michel, Belgium's Prime Minister in the audience, Kaninda made reference to the peace agreement signed in February by the Touadéra government and 14 rebel groups, aimed at ending the country's seven-year-long civil war. In her view, through the implementation of the peace process, the Central African Republic will be able to resume the unrestricted export of rough diamonds, supported by the Kimberley Process Certification System.

"It is time for Sub-Saharan Africa to rise up and develop all its human, mining, agricultural and energy potential," — Marie-Chantal Kaninda

"The WDC strongly advocates that the CAR and other countries where artisanal diamond mining is prominent enjoy similar benefits from their production as do other African countries that have seen their economies and nations transformed by the proceeds from diamond sales," Kaninda said.

The Central African Republic remains under Kimberley Process suspension and diamond exports from areas falling outside of the so-called 'green zones' in the western part of the country are forbidden. At the permitted areas, diamond exports are approved monthly by a monitoring team, as the national government has been working closely with the Kimberley Process to enable the sale of artisanally-mined alluvial stones.

Kaninda emphasized that her organization is keen on supporting these processes, which help flood the markets with ethically sourced gemstones.

"Improving the living and working conditions of workers in the diamond mining industry, as well that of workers in other key sectors, like agriculture and forestry, will have a positive impact on the communities that they support," the executive said. "These are the developments that we would like the Kimberley Process to support, through the expansion of its scope."