The Diamond Trade and the Kimberley Process

The Diamond Trade and the Kimberley Process

“The Kimberley Process protects the diamond market from being the medium in which armed conflict is funded against legitimate governments. ”

The Value of Diamonds:

The renowned beauty of diamonds and their symbolism of love and luxury has captivated humanity for centuries. This has given them a value beyond comparison.

However, the darker narrative of “conflict diamonds,” also known as “blood diamonds,” has fueled armed conflicts and human rights abuses in some regions. In response, the international community established the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme to ensure an ethical diamond trade for the modern customer in our information age.

As consumers, understanding the significance of the Kimberley Process empowers us to make informed choices and contribute to a more sustainable and humane diamond trade.

The Kimberley Process is named after Kimberley, South Africa, where an 83.5-carat diamond was discovered in 1869, which spawned a diamond rush in the area. 131 years later, this was where representatives of diamond-producing countries met to discuss and address the issue of diamonds being mined to finance armed conflict.

With the advent of readily available information technology in the late 1990s, there was a surge in awareness regarding the connection between the diamond trade and funding for armed conflicts, particularly in Africa. Rebel groups were financing their activities through the sale of diamonds while also causing the immense suffering of innocents they forced to mine. The global outcry against these atrocities prompted action from the international community.

Background:

The Kimberley Process is named after Kimberley, South Africa, where an 83.5-carat diamond was discovered in 1869, which spawned a diamond rush in the area. 131 years later, this was where representatives of diamond-producing countries met to discuss and address the issue of diamonds being mined to finance armed conflict.


With the advent of readily available information technology in the late 1990s, there was a surge in awareness regarding the connection between the diamond trade and funding for armed conflicts, particularly in Africa. Rebel groups were financing their activities through the sale of diamonds while also causing the immense suffering of innocents they forced to mine. The global outcry against these atrocities prompted action from the international community.

Establishment of the Kimberley Process (KP):

The KP was initiated in May 2000 when representatives from governments, the diamond industry, and civil society met to address this issue. The result was the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, a collaborative effort to prevent the trade of “conflict diamonds” and protect the integrity of the diamond supply chain.

The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme entered into force in 2003, when countries started implementing its rules:

  • Satisfy ‘minimum requirements’ and establish national legislation, institutions, and import/export controls Commit to transparent practices and to the exchange of critical statistical data
  • Trade only with fellow members who also satisfy the fundamentals of the agreement
  • Certify shipments as conflict-free and provide the supporting certification

Goals of the Kimberley Process:

The primary objective of the KP is to eliminate the trade in “conflict diamonds.” Participating countries commit to certifying that their diamonds are conflict-free, ensuring that only legitimately-sourced diamonds enter the global market.

The secondary objective of the KP aims to establish a transparent and traceable diamond supply chain. By implementing strict documentation and tracking procedures, the process seeks to guarantee that each diamond can be traced back to its source, promoting accountability and ethical practices.

 

The success of the KP lies in its ability to foster international collaboration, as it relies entirely on participants' contributions under the principle of ‘burden-sharing.’ Governments, civil organizations, and the diamond industry must work together to implement the certification scheme and address emerging challenges.

Challenges of the Kimberley Process:

Because the effectiveness of the KP relies on the capabilities of participating countries, nations that cannot enforce the necessary controls can lead to loopholes in the system.

One of the significant challenges is the definition of “conflict diamonds.” The criteria for what defines a “conflict diamond” have been a subject of debate. Some argue for a broad definition, including diamonds associated with human rights abuses and environmental damage. Still, at the moment, it is defined by the Kimberley Process as “rough diamonds used to finance wars against governments.”

As the diamond industry evolves, new challenges arise. Artisanal and small-scale mining are emerging issues that the KP must address for its continued relevance and success.

Conclusion:

Overall, the KP stands as a testament to the collective will of the international community to address the ethical concerns surrounding the diamond trade. While it has made strides in reducing the flow of “conflict diamonds,” challenges persist. The ongoing commitment of players to strengthen and adapt the KP is essential for ensuring a transparent, responsible, and ethical diamond industry.

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