Ensuring Diamonds Are Truly Conflict Free

December 4, 2012
Miners Pan for Diamonds in Sierra Leone

U.S. Kimberley Process Chair Ambassador Gillian A. Milovanovic and the rest of the U.S. Kimberley Process (KP) team achieved a significant number of successes during the annual KP Plenary, November 27-30, 2012, which took place at the Department of State, in Washington, D.C. On January 1, South Africa will take over from the United States as Chair as the KP marks its 10th anniversary. The Kimberley Process is a voluntary effort to prevent diamonds that fuel rebel movements' activities from entering into the global supply chain, thereby creating confidence in an industry that supports millions of workers in mining, cutting and polishing, wholesale, and retail trade. The KP includes 80 countries, as well as observers from the diamond industry and civil society.

This year's Plenary approved a decision to establish an Administrative Support Mechanism (ASM) to assist the Chair and all Kimberley Process Participants and Observers with day-to-day operations and website maintenance. The ASM will take a considerable burden off the Chairman. The World Diamond Council was selected as the first host of the ASM, for a period of one year.

The United States believes strongly that the definition of "conflict diamond" requires updating beyond its current reach -- which is currently limited to diamonds that are used by rebel groups to finance conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments -- to include other types of diamond-related conflict, including state-on-state violence, violence by a state against its own citizens, or violence perpetrated by private security forces. Although time was too short to achieve consensus on a specific text, the Plenary reaffirmed the mandate of the Ad hoc Committee on KP Review, the sub-group that had been working on the conflict diamond issue, to continue discussions and consultations on updating the definition and directed the committee to report on this subject to Plenary 2013, under the South African Chairmanship.

Expanding the number of participant countries to include all involved in production, cutting and polishing, and sales is a priority, since the KP is based on the principle that all countries that buy or sell rough diamonds are participants and only deal in diamonds that are accompanied by a KP certificate. In this year's Plenary Panama, Kazakhstan and Cambodia were welcomed into the KP. Cameroon joined in August and the African Diamond Producers' Association joined as an Observer in July.

Approximately 25 percent of the world's diamonds are mined by artisanal and small scale miners. It is therefore critical to ensure that artisanal miners operate legally, safely and that they have access to the broader market. For this reason, it is important that people working in artisanal and alluvial mining are officially recognized, regulated and drawn into the formal economy of a country. With this in mind, the Plenary adopted the Washington Declaration, which seeks to integrate development objectives and best practices into the artisanal and small-scale mining sector into the KP system. Better regulation of this sector will have a direct impact on the livelihoods of small-scale miners.

Based on the reports of KP monitors throughout 2012, reviewed in the Working Group on Monitoring, chaired by the European Union, the Plenary acknowledged the progress Zimbabwe has made in meeting the minimum requirements of the KP Certification Scheme and allowed the monitoring clause adopted at the 2011 Kinshasa Plenary to sunset, while confirming that the KP expected the good practices developed by Zimbabwe during the monitoring period to continue.

Finally, the Plenary adopted a number of new procedures to strengthen the existing process. Among these were revised non-compliance guidelines, peer review guidelines, and a data anomalies questionnaire that will allow the Working Group on Monitoring to identify possible problem areas. These are practical tools that will improve how the KP functions and allows for a better monitoring and implementation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.



Sean C.
December 10, 2012

Sean C. in Ireland writes:

Contrary to spin from vested interests, the KP does not prevent the trade in blood diamonds. Cut and polished diamonds that fund war crimes and possible crimes against humanity continue to flood the market labelled conflict-free. Until such time as the KP ends the trade in all diamonds that fund human rights violations, by rogue governments as well as rebels, the public can have no confidence in the ethical provenance of any diamonds.



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