Open Source Mineral Resigns From The Responsible Jewellery Counsel (RJC).


By Marc Choyt.

Open Source, founded a few years ago by Mike Angenent, offers ethical, traceable and transparent sourcing in for both diamonds and other gems.  It has become one of the most respected organizations in the ethical sourcing community, providing ethically sourced diamonds and gems to jewelers interested in exceptional standards.  Now, Open Source has resigned from the RJC.  This resignation, as Mike’s letter below reveals, was catalyzed by RJC’s stance in the allowance of diamonds from the Marange field in Zimbabwe.

The Kimberley Certification Process (KP) is certifying these Marange diamonds.  KP has been the backbone of the diamond trade, as it was developed in response to the blood diamond tragedy in which three million Africans died mostly between 1990 and 2000.   RJC is backing KP, despite that fact the human rights violations, including rape and murder,  have been widely documented in Marange.

This resignation is an important development for those who follow these issues closely.  It is further evidence of the split between the large scale companies and trade organizations that drive the RJC agenda, and the smaller organizations, such as Fair Jewelry Action, interested in developing more comprehensive standards based not only on traceability and transparency, but human rights and environmental justice.

Below is Mike’s letter to the RJC

In response to the RJC’s decision to welcome the KP’s agreement regarding Zimbabwe I decided that it would not befit Open Source Minerals to remain its RJC membership.

I can understand, to some extend, that multistakeholder decisions require compromises and should be considered professionally and not personally. I do however, not share that view.

Decisions like these are never merely professional as they affect the livelihoods and even lives [literally] of many. They are therefore very personal and should be the main concern in any policy making decision or the acknowledgement of them.

Furthermore, it is one thing to come to a professional compromise and an other to acknowledge the same as being Responsible.

Responsibility is about the Council’s and its members bigger role in society. Establishing a Code of Conduct should not externalize costs by expensive auditing measures but should first and foremost lead to true empowerment and shareholding of communities.

Therefore, responsibility should in the first place extend to the villagers of Marange that discovered the diamonds in 2006.

These (still) are among the poorest people in the world – despite the $56 million sold in the recent tenders – and any Council claiming Responsibility should take stewardship into assuring that the basic rights of these people are met as an absolute requirement.

There is also a supreme court order* regarding legal ownership of Chiadzwa which has been ignored by the KP.

While the KP might have its reasons to ignore it under the mandate they have, I do not think it befits to RJC to do the same.

Compliance with national law is a basic requirement for all who claim responsible practices and especially for those who promote them.

I understand that under the current definition of ‘blood diamonds’ it has been difficult for the KP members to file Marange’s production as such.

Semantics however should not be the main concern when peoples lives are involved. But however difficult it may be, it is again one thing to come to such a decision and another to acknowledge it.

While this case could have been a clear statement by the RJC of its independency and that it is living up to the internationally applicable standards they have set out in their CoP (Ethical and Responsible sourcing / Stewardship a.o.) it has now become a meager compromise to a decision that “if implemented could provide hope”.

That the decisions and demands are not being implemented should not come as a surprise.

Mike Angenent

Open Source Minerals

*

There are pending legal disputes over ownership (Chiadzwa) after Africa Consolidated Resources was taken over illegally and forcefully by state owned companies.

Pending or not, there seem to be some Supreme Court orders that where disregarded by the KP.

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One thought on “Open Source Mineral Resigns From The Responsible Jewellery Counsel (RJC).

  1. Dear Mark,

    Thank you for this informative post. Mike Angenent’s letter announcing Open Source’s resignation from the Responsible Jewellery Council and reasons for doing so is bold and his commitment to ethical sourcing is inspiring. I appreciate having access to his letter through this blog.

    Jewellers who are committed to making their work in a ways that sustain the earth, its peoples and cultures can take the lead from people like Mike. The choices we make as jewellery designers and producers connect us directly to the people and places from which our materials come. Knowing the source adds an undeniable level of personal responsibility and it also offers the opportunity to do the right thing.

    Just as individual jewellers in the know must take responsibility, so must the group of individuals that makes up the Responsible Jewellery Council.

    Christina Miller
    Co-Director, Ethical Metalsmiths

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