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Jewelers ‘Failing to Prevent Rights Abuses’

Human Rights Watch calls for mandatory sourcing rules and urges companies to name suppliers.
Nov 25, 2020 10:51 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... 
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for mandatory sourcing rules for the jewelry industry and urged retailers to name their suppliers, claiming the sector is not doing enough to combat abuses.

“Many jewelry companies have made progress in sourcing their gold and diamonds responsibly, but consumers still don’t have adequate assurances that their jewelry comes free of human-rights abuses,” said Juliane Kippenberg, HRW’s associate child-rights director, in a statement Tuesday.

Voluntary standards, while positive, have failed to produce the necessary industry-wide change, HRW argued in an 84-page report on sourcing practices in the jewelry trade. This is because the rules have some weaknesses, and companies can opt out, putting compliant businesses at a disadvantage. Human-rights abuses continue to occur despite these standards, the New York-based nonprofit claimed.

Ultimately, only mandatory rules — at a national or regional level — will “create a level playing field and move the whole industry in the right direction,” HRW maintained. Currently, only a few locations have laws in place or are preparing them, with European Union regulations on human-rights due diligence for minerals coming into force on January 1, 2021, the report explained.

The Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), the industry’s main standards organization, said it was continuously working to improve itself, and noted that any mandatory human-rights legislation would always require the input of industry organisations.

“We strongly believe that a smart policy mix of national and international measures, mandatory regulation and industry initiatives is needed to achieve positive impact in the global jewelry and watch supply chain,” the RJC told Rapaport News Wednesday.

HRW also emphasized the importance to consumers of publishing information about suppliers, arguing that doing so sends a message that the jeweler is willing to be accountable for human-rights abuses in the supply chain.

However, most of the 15 companies HRW assessed for the report were unable to trace their gold and diamonds to the mines of origin, and were thus unable to monitor workers’ conditions at these deposits. Only Pandora and Tiffany & Co. published the names of their gold and diamond suppliers, the group stated.

Image: Jewelry production. (Shutterstock)
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Tags: European Union, hrw, human rights, Human Rights Watch, Jewelry, Juliane Kippenberg, new york, Pandora, Rapaport News, Responsible Jewellery Council, retail, RJC, standards, Tiffany, Tiffany & CO.
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