DIAMOND DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE BEGINS
New Approach to Africa’s Diamond Problems
The founders of the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI), who comprise a cross section of industry, NGOs and the donor community, today released the mission statement and the objectives of the initiative. The DDI aims to address the problems faced by more than a million African diamond diggers, their governments and the diamond industry. The founders also announced a plan to hold a first convening meeting of the DDI in Africa in October or November. The meeting will be open to all governments, companies, NGOs and development agencies interested in furthering the objectives of the DDI.
During the 1990s and into the current decade, rebel armies in Angola, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo exploited the alluvial diamond fields of these countries to finance their wars. “Conflict diamonds” spread their tentacles into other conflicts as well – Liberia, Guinea, the Republic of Congo and elsewhere. Hundreds of thousands of people died as a direct result of these wars, and many more died of indirect causes.
The issue of conflict diamonds was brought to public attention by NGOs and the United Nations in 1998 and 1999, and in May 2000 the Government of South Africa convened a meeting, bringing together industry, governments and civil society in an attempt to find a solution to the problem. That first gathering, held in Kimberley, where South African diamonds were discovered 140 years ago, was the first in a series of more than a dozen meetings that came to be known as “The Kimberley Process”.
In a remarkably short time, the Kimberley Process was able to articulate a system for managing and certifying the internal and international trade in rough diamonds. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) came into effect on January 1, 2003, and required all participating governments – more than 40, plus those represented by the European Commission – to enact new diamond laws and regulations.
The KPCS remains a work in progress. It has been credited, however, with huge increases in official diamond exports from Sierra Leone and the DRC, and with the ending of all official diamond trade with many countries accused of involvement in conflict diamonds. Participants in the KPCS ascribe its success to the willingness of a wide range of governments, civil society and the diamond industry (represented by the mining, trading, manufacturing and retail sectors through the World Diamond Council) to give each other space and respect, and to work together.
The Diamond Development Initiative
The Diamond Development Initiative emerges from a recognition that the underlying problems of Africa’s alluvial diamond operations and its estimated one million artisanal miners lie beyond the KPCS, and have not yet been addressed. This is a development problem and one with several security dimensions – human, local, national and international. A pooling of stakeholder efforts holds the potential for achieving real change, change that could bring artisanal alluvial diamond mining into the formal sector, with major benefits for miners and governments alike, and the diamond industry at large.
The focus of the DDI will be the creation of a multilateral partnership framework that will allow interested parties to pool their resources, experience and knowledge, and to integrate various initiatives that are being developed in this field.
DDI Mission Statement
To gather all interested parties into a process that will address, in a comprehensive way, the political, social and economic challenges facing the artisanal diamond mining sector in order to optimize the beneficial development impact of artisanal diamond mining to miners, their communities and their governments.
To gather and disseminate information on artisanal diamond mining.
To promote better understanding of, and possible solutions for:
• Government regulation and mining regulation;
• Distribution and marketing channels;
• Organizational aspects of artisanal production;
• Legitimate and transparent distribution channels;
• Organization among artisanal miners;
• Free and open markets for artisanally mined diamonds.
To promote wide participation in the process, including governments, donors, industry and NGOs.
The initiators of the DDI
Partnership Africa Canada
Jeffrey Davidson (Communities and Small-scale Mining Program)
Rapaport Group of Companies
Professional Consultant to the DDI
Chaim Even-Zohar (Tacy Ltd. – Diamond Industry Consultants)
Further information about the challenges the DDI expects to address can be found in two background papers:
• “Diamond Development Initiative: Background Paper on Macroeconomic Issues”, by Chaim Even-Zohar;
• “Diamond Development Initiative: Background Paper On Micro Development Issues”, by Ian Smillie
For further information on the DDI, please contact:
Andrew Bone: [email protected]
Jeffrey Davidson: [email protected]
Chaim Even-Zohar: [email protected]
Martin Rapaport: [email protected]
Ian Smillie: [email protected]
Alex Yearsley: [email protected]
Press Release / Aug. 17, 2005