Stemming the flow of Conflict Diamonds – The Kimberley Process

The Kimberley Process (KP) is a joint governments, industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of conflict diamonds – rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments. The trade in these illicit stones has fuelled decades of devastating conflicts in countries such as Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone.

The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) imposes extensive requirements on its members to enable them to certify shipments of rough diamonds as ‘conflict-free’. As of September 2007, the KP has 48 members, representing 74 countries, with the European Community and its Member States counting as an individual participant.

The Kimberley process started when Southern African diamond-producing states met in Kimberley, South Africa, in May 2000, to discuss ways to stop the trade in ‘conflict diamonds’ and ensure that diamond purchases were not funding violence. In December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a landmark resolution supporting the creation of an international certification scheme for rough diamonds. By November 2002, negotiations between governments, the international diamond industry and civil society organisations resulted in the creation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) . The KPCS document sets out the requirements for controlling rough diamond production and trade. The KPCS entered into force in 2003, when participating countries started to implement its rules.

Who is involved?
The Kimberley Process (KP) is open to all countries that are willing and able to implement its requirements. As of September 2007, the KP has 48 members, representing 74 countries, with the European Community and its Member States counting as an individual participant. KP members account for approximately 99.8% of the global production of rough diamonds. In addition, the World Diamond Council, representing the international diamond industry, and civil society organisations – Global Witness, Partnership-Africa Canada – are participating in the KP and have played a major role since its outset.

How does the Kimberley Process work?
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) imposes extensive requirements on its members to enable them to certify shipments of rough diamonds as ‘conflict-free’ and prevent conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate trade. Under the terms of the KPCS, participating states must meet ‘minimum requirements’ and must put in place national legislation and institutions; export, import and internal controls; and also commit to transparency and the exchange of statistical data. Participants can only legally trade with other participants who have also met the minimum requirements of the scheme, and international shipments of rough diamonds must be accompanied by a KP certificate guaranteeing that they are conflict-free.
KP participating countries and industry and civil society observers gather twice a year at intercessional and plenary meetings, as well as in working groups and committees that meet on a regular basis. Implementation is monitored through ‘review visits’ and annual reports as well as by regular exchange and analysis of statistical data.

The Kimberley Process: unique and effective
The joint efforts of governments, industry leaders and civil society representatives have enabled the Kimberley Process (KP) to curb successfully the flow of conflict diamonds in a very short period of time. Diamond experts estimate that conflict diamonds now represent a fraction of one percent of the international trade in diamonds, compared to estimates of up to 15% in the 1990s. The KP has also brought large volumes of diamonds onto the legal market that would not otherwise have made it there. This has increased the revenues of poor governments, and helped them to address their countries’ development challenges.

The Kimberley Process and Sierra Leone
The UN Resolution on Sierra Leone diamonds was lifted in 2003 when the KP came into effect and since then all legally won diamonds have been exported in compliance with the minimum requirements of the KP.