The Kimberley Process
What is the Kimberley Process?
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (Kimberley Process or KP) is an international governmental certification scheme that was set up to prevent the trade in diamonds that fund conflict. Launched in January 2003, the scheme requires governments to certify that shipments of rough diamonds are conflict-free.
How did the Kimberley Process begin?
In 1998, Global Witness launched a campaign to expose the role of diamonds in funding conflict, as part of broader research into the link between natural resources and conflict. In response to growing international pressure from Global Witness and other NGOs, the major diamond trading and producing countries, representatives of the diamond industry, and NGOs met in Kimberley, South Africa to determine how to tackle the blood diamond problem. The meeting, hosted by the South African government, was the start of an often contentious three-year negotiating process which culminated in the establishment of an international diamond certification scheme. The Kimberley Process was endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and launched in January 2003.
How does it work in practice?
The KP is an import-export certification scheme which requires participating governments to certify the origin of rough diamonds, and put in place effective controls to prevent conflict stones from entering the supply chain. Participant countries must enact domestic legislation to implement the scheme, and can only trade rough diamonds with other members. This creates a strong incentive for countries that want to produce, trade or process uncut stones to join. As of 2010, there are 75 governments participating in the KP.
The KP’s technical provisions are implemented by governments, but its tripartite structure means that non-governmental organisations and the diamond industry hold official status as observers and take part, along with member states, in all working groups and decision making processes.
Is the Kimberley Process working?
The Kimberley Process has chalked up some notable achievements in the past ten years, including pioneering a tripartite approach to solving international problems, and helping some of the countries that were worst-hit by diamond-fuelled wars to increase their official diamond revenues. However, member governments have repeatedly failed to deal effectively with problem cases such as Zimbabwe, Côte d’Ivoire and Venezuela. Despite the existence of the Kimberley Process, diamonds are still fuelling violence and human rights abuses. Although the scheme makes it more difficult for diamonds from rebel-held areas to reach international markets, there are still significant weaknesses in the scheme that undermine its effectiveness and allow the trade in blood diamonds to continue.
How can the KP be improved?
The KP will not achieve its aim of stamping out diamond-fuelled violence for good without the introduction of far reaching reforms or a serious injection of political will.Human rights – breaking the links between diamonds and human rights abuses was one of the founding principles of the Kimberley Process – the scheme’s founding document notes the “systematic and gross human rights violations” associated with the diamond trade. However, many participants in the scheme argue that human rights fall squarely outside the KP’s remit. Global Witness is campaigning for the KP to clarify and strengthen its commitment to human rights, or risk losing the trust of consumers and the diamond mining communities it was set up to protect. Independent technical capacity – despite the fact that the KP has 75 member countries, it has no permanent secretariat, no funding and no central repository of knowledge or ongoing institutional capacity. This has led to a lack of continuity between chairmanships – the KP chair rotates amongst the member countries on an annual basic – insufficient monitoring and a slow response to crisis situations. The KP doesn’t have the capacity to consistently and effectively follow up on issues of concern. The Kimberley Process needs a professional, independent technical body to support progress on administrative matters, monitoring, and statistical and legal analysis. Decision-making – Consensus decision-making means that one participant can block progress on key issues. The KP has been unable to take strong decisions to crack down on cases of serious non-compliance. This inability to hold members to account for rules of the scheme undermines its effectiveness and its credibility in the eyes of consumers and participants. Global Witness is calling on the KP to replace its decision-making procedure with a more effective system.
These reforms will never be carried out in the absence of serious renewal of political will on the part of KP member governments and the diamond industry. As the issue of conflict diamonds slips down the agenda of many participant governments, the KP risks becoming little more than a talking shop, with some members content to put in minimal effort and free ride on this pioneering conflict prevention scheme.
Global Witness is committed to pushing governments to fully implement the scheme, to hold rule breakers to account, and to introduce reforms that will ensure the KP remains effective and credible over the next 10 years.
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