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Gaborone Wants to Fill the Vacuum Left By Moscow as the Diamond Authority

Botswana, the world’s second-largest diamond producer, is seeking a more prominent role in the industry as No. 1 player Russia faces international outrage following its invasion of Ukraine. The southern African nation is vying to host a permanent new headquarters and secretariat for the Kimberley Process, which seeks to combat trade in the gems from conflict areas, part of the government’s effort to turn the country into a global industry hub. Income from diamonds have helped Botswana, which was among the world’s 25 poorest countries, attain upper-middle income status. “We have the most to lose if diamonds are badly managed,” Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi said in an interview. The Kimberley Process was initiated in 2003 by governments, civil rights groups and industry players to increase transparency and try and eliminate trade in so-called “blood diamonds.” While it has established a mechanism to trace the origin of the stones, which has curtailed the illicit trade, the U.S. and groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have called for it to have a broader mandate and address more wide-ranging issues such as human rights abuses. Botswana, which took over the rotating chairmanship of the Kimberley Process plenary from Russia after its last session in November, will go up against China and Austria to host the watchdog’s permanent secretariat. It’s unclear when the winner will be named or when the next Kimberley Process plenary will be held, partly because of conflict in Ukraine.