Kimberley Process: Fighting the Trade in Conflict Diamonds

Sustainable development and artisanal mining: time to broaden the 'blood diamonds' conversation? | International Institute for Environment and Development

The Kimberley Process (KP) is an international initiative established to eliminate conflict diamonds from the global diamond trade. Conflict diamonds, also known as blood diamonds, are rough diamonds mined in areas controlled by rebel groups and used to finance wars against legitimate governments. These wars often cause devastating humanitarian consequences.

The KP was created in 2003 through a collaboration between governments, the diamond industry, and civil society organizations. It is not a single, binding treaty, but rather a set of guidelines and procedures implemented by participating countries, currently numbering 85.

Here’s a breakdown of the Kimberley Process:

  • Goal: Eradicate conflict diamonds from the diamond supply chain.
  • Participants: Governments, diamond industry representatives (World Diamond Council), and civil society observers.
  • Mechanism: The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS)

The KPCS is the foundation of the KP. It mandates a system of warranties and certificates that track rough diamonds from mine to market. Here’s how it works:

  • Export and Import Controls: Only rough diamonds that originate from KP participant countries and comply with KPCS regulations can be exported or imported.
  • Internal Controls: Each participant country has a designated authority responsible for overseeing the KPCS within its borders. This authority validates and issues certificates for rough diamonds being exported.
  • Importation Requirements: Importing countries can only accept rough diamonds with a valid KPCS certificate.

The KP has significantly reduced the trade in conflict diamonds. However, challenges remain. Critics point to weaknesses in enforcement and the possibility of diamonds being smuggled through non-participating countries. The KP also doesn’t address human rights abuses or environmental damage within the diamond industry.

Despite these limitations, the KP is a significant achievement in promoting ethical sourcing in the diamond trade. It demonstrates the power of collaboration between governments, industry, and civil society to address a complex global issue.

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