A number of African countries have large diamond reserves and, more often than not, the illegal production in these countries is obtained through bloody and violent means. Diamonds that are mined in these areas are referred to as “blood diamonds” or “conflict diamonds”. In some politically unstable but diamond-rich African countries, rioters control diamond mines and use the proceeds from the illegal diamond trade to fund their activities. Therefore, the main reason for establishing the Kimberley Process (KP) was to stop the trade in blood diamonds. The global initiative has been successful in reducing the illegal trade in conflict diamonds but its effectiveness has been hampered by the limitations of its jurisdiction and the uncooperative governments.
According to Bieri, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) is a voluntary agreement that formed a non-state global governance mechanism that regulated diamond trade in Africa. It merges a specialized industry-led certification with an international cross-border import and export regulation system (2016, 103). Several governments along with the diamond industry representative and two non-governmental organizations signed the document after a few years of discussion (Bieri 2016, 1). The final success was caused by a number of factors that include the high industrial concentration ratio and the need for taking urgent actions, both corporate and international, to end several ongoing civil wars (Bieri 2016, 5-6).
The main purpose of the KPCS was to stop the illegal trade in blood diamonds internationally. Presently, eighty-one countries that produce rough diamonds signed this agreement. The Kimberley Process is a result of the attempts to cut off the financial support of the rebels in Angola that belonged to UNITA, responsible for the civil war in the country (Hobbs 2014). When the United Nations (UN) imposed sanctions on the organization, its members took control over diamond mines to fund their activities (Hobbs 2014). In 2000, diamond industry representatives, Non-Governmental Organizations and diamond producing countries held an emergency meeting in Kimberley, South Africa to deliberate the establishment of a certification system to stop the trade in blood diamonds. The civil strife in the diamond-mining regions, the reputational and financial losses of the industry, and the looming international embargo on diamonds formed the decision to start the Kimberley Process. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was presented after a three-year-long negotiation and was ratified by the United Nations General Assembly (Wright 2016, 181-183). The agreement binds the parties to maintain strict control over their territories and block the import and the export of illegal diamonds. This obligation is followed by an additional requirement to change or develop suitable laws that promote the KPCS’s implementation and firmly uphold preventive measures and proportional punishments for violations. Additionally, the agreement requires the member states to give guarantees that rough diamonds that arrive in and leave the respective countries in tamper-proof packages. The country that exports diamonds has to give each container a KPCS certificate with a unique serial number (Hobbs 2014). The KP members hold meetings twice a year to review each member’s behavior, address the encountered problems and enhance the system. The states that either breach the KPCS regulations, or are too corrupt to implement the needed laws effectively, or ignore the possible negative consequences of their actions for the KPCS, risk getting their membership revoked (Wright 2012, 185). At the same time, the fact that the KP members can trade only within the membership is highly beneficial. According to the statistics provided in “Eliminating Conflict Diamonds”, the organization covers over 99% of rough diamonds produced globally (2016).
Recently, several attempts to enhance the KPCS have been made including implementation of the proposals and changes agreed upon at the November 2007 Kimberley Process review meeting. Those changes included strengthening internal controls of the members engaged in rough diamond trade and manufacture. This came to be known as the Brussels Declaration. Another measure that was introduced was the Brussels Initiative which was aimed at enhancing the regulation and supervision of rough diamonds originating from the Ivory Coast. Additionally, the first record of diamond production statistics was published. Finally, the report made by the Working Group of Artisanal Alluvial Producers on different inventories used with the later introduced matrix of challenges faced by artisanal producing states was developed to assist in improving their internal controls (“Eliminating Conflict Diamonds” 2016).
The KPCS’s biggest strength is its ability to eliminate the risks related to the trade in blood diamonds. The statistics indicate that the scheme has been managed to drastically limit the fraction of conflict diamonds in the diamond trade. This insinuates that certification and monitoring procedures have a considerable impact on controlling the ratio of conflict diamonds in the global market. Simultaneously, the aspect indicates that more members enter the KPCS. Some of the civil wars that drew the world’s attention to illegal diamond trade are now resolved. This shifts the initiative’s focus from Angola and Sierra Leone to the Ivory Coast as the world’s greatest source of blood diamonds. The KPCS has also made it possible for countries to benefit financially from participating in a legal and authentic diamond trade. Another strength of the KPCS is adoption of the multi-stakeholder governance model. This leads to enhancing and maintaining high credibility needed at the implementation stage (Bieri 2016, 135-138).
However, the KPCS has a number of flaws. One of them is the document’s definition blood diamonds that covers rough diamonds, but does not include cut and polished stones. This makes it possible to keep selling processed conflict diamonds. Next, the refusal to encompass violations of human rights and illegal diamond mining has also hampered their efforts to defend legitimately mined diamonds. Because of the insufficiently developed terminology, the KP’s actions are limited and some members simply refuse to adhere to protocols e.g. diamonds from rebel-controlled regions in the Central African Republic reached the international market despite the embargo placed on the country’s diamonds (“The Kimberley Process” 2013). Therefore, the KPCS is definitely effective but not as powerful as it should be to completely end the trade in blood diamonds.
Global Witness (GW) and the United Nations (UN) both played significant but different roles in the implementation of the Kimberley Process. The former was the first to expose the problem of blood diamonds and was instrumental in establishing the KPCS (Wright 2012, 183). GW’s groundbreaking report “A Rough Trade”, published in 1998, uncovered the role of blood diamonds in financing the Angolan Civil War (Bieri 2016, 20). The report also brought the hidden practices of the international diamond industry into the spotlight for the first time. This compelled governments and parties involved in the diamond industry to take decisive actions on eliminating the circulation of conflict diamonds in the global market (Hobbs 2016). At the same time, according to Bieri (2016), the United Nations ratified the KPCS by the UN General Assembly in 2003, giving credibility to the document. In addition to this, the UN has encouraged member states to sign and support the certification scheme and continued supporting the activities of the KPSC in the affected regions. It has also called upon the KPCS members to submit annual reports that will help the initiative to improve its operations (Bieri 2016, 71). However, opposed to the UN, Global Witness, an official observer to the process since its implementation, left the KP scheme in 2011. This occurred after the KP sanctioned exports from two firms operating in the Zimbabwean Marange diamond fields. Global Witness viewed this as a contravention of the principles that the Kimberley Process stood for. This is because the Zimbabwean army seized control of Marange in 2008, after killing over 200 miners during their takeover bid (Hobbs 2016).
In order to make changes in the KPCS, I would, first of all, ensure that adequate control systems and legislations are applied in all member states’ territories without any exceptions. I believe that the KP should compel its members to have sound diamond distribution control structures in place that are fully executed within the confines of the law. These regulations should involve satisfactory checking procedures to make sure that diamond companies and diamond producers are complying with the KPCS. The diamond industry should also fulfill its part by operating in a more liable and clear manner. I would ensure that one of the requirements to continuing the Kimberley Process membership is for member states to reinforce strict government control over their territories. This action is needed because currently there are no certain standards of government regulations to be adopted by all member countries before being granted the membership status. Government regulations of diamond trade in the affected countries should support the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and guarantee traceability of diamonds from the mine to the point of export or production. On paper, a member country’s control systems may look solid, but, in most cases, the implementation quality is low. Consequently, most members’ regulations on their diamond sector are flimsy or rarely enforced due to the loopholes in their laws that permit the blood diamonds flow. Some countries do not even carry out the necessary inspections to ensure that their diamond industry is KPCS compliant. Therefore, strict rules which oblige the governments to have regulations in place that ensure that the KPCS is effective should be implemented.
I would also ensure that regular statistics are published to increase the transparency and accountability of the Kimberley Process. During my research, I was surprised to discover that I could not access the most recent reports regarding diamond trade under the Kimberley Process. This is because the detailed statistics on diamond mining and industry has not been published. A determining factor in this case could be that such data falls into the sensitive information category and could have a negative impact on the industry. However, statistical data is a vital method of describing the irregularities of the diamond trade that could result from trade in conflict diamonds. Therefore, this information should be made public to increase confidence in the Kimberley Process and receive external input that may assist the Kimberley Process to strengthen its control systems.
The other change I would introduce to the Kimberley Process is organizing a specific search for funds to sponsor the certification scheme. Large and regular income sources are needed to better coordinate and ensure effective implementation of the KP. The Kimberley Process is not financially stable and is operated by volunteers who readily avail time and resources. This is not feasible and lays an undue responsibility on volunteers. A financial support is desperately required to aid in equitable distribution of the duties in terms of efforts and financing. This would greatly assist in implementing government and civil society projects. To ensure the participation of the civil society, the member countries should interact with and finance Non-Governmental Organizations to promote the effective implementation of the Kimberley Process. This would hold the governments accountable for breaches and assist in the data collection process that might be useful in streamlining the certification scheme in the respective countries.
The last change I would make in the Kimberley Process is based on and issue highlighted by Rhode (2014) that the scheme is confined in terms of certification which generally focuses on mining and distribution of blood diamonds. This means that such significant issues as worker exploitation, eviction of entire villages to pave the way for mining activities, child labor, unsafe working conditions and inadequately low wages are not addressed. I would implement changes in the certification scheme of the Kimberley Process including regulations that compel the governments to address the issues raised above. Additionally, the Kimberley Process certificate also requires improvement, as it does not pertain to a single diamond stone but to a consignment of rough diamonds which will be further cut and dispatched around the world (Rhode 2014). Therefore, it is impossible to ascertain the difference between conflict diamonds and diamonds that actually meet the Kimberley Process standards. My suggestion would be to implement additional rigorous measures that ascertain the origin of a diamond and limit certification to encompass at least ten diamonds per KP certificate. This would help to curb the infiltration of blood diamonds into containers with legally mined diamonds.
In conclusion, the KPCS has managed to stem the trade in blood diamonds but still a lot needs to be done to completely eradicate the presence of conflict diamonds in the international market. These measures include cooperation among governments, limitation certification to a set number of diamonds, and financial assistance for the KP. Additionally, revising the KPCS’s definition of “conflict diamonds” is required to encompass human rights violations and extend the agreement’s mandate to cover cut diamonds too. These changes and measures will have a significant positive impact on the effectiveness of the KPCS in putting to end the trade in blood diamonds.