by Alex Francis
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was established in November of 2002 as the result of efforts by the international diamond industry, governments, and civil society organizations to stop the trade in conflict diamonds. Conflict diamonds, also commonly known as blood diamonds, are those that come from areas controlled by rebel groups who then use the diamond-trade money to fund military action in opposition to the government.
In order to mitigate the flow of conflict diamonds into the mainstream diamond market, the 77 countries represented in the Kimberley Process have imposed a certification process by which shipments of rough diamonds can be labeled conflict-free. The member countries can then only legally trade diamonds with other participants in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.
The United States Proposes Updated Regulations
As the 2012 Chair of the Kimberly Process, the United States will encourage representatives at the November 27-30 meeting to agree to an updated definition for what a conflict diamond is. They are proposing the definition be expanded to apply to armed conflicts between nations and prolonged violence between warring groups within a country. They have also proposed universal criteria be adopted to ensure evidence that the diamonds are not fueling violence is independently verifiable. The proposal states that isolated incidents and violence unrelated to the diamond sector should not be considered in the certification process, and certification should be granted on a site-by-site basis.
A second related meeting hosted by the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the World Customs Organization will engage law enforcement and customs officials in a conversation regarding ways to better combat fraud and how to improve the international enforcement of the certification scheme.
Importance of the Kimberley Process
Before any changes to the Kimberley Process can be adopted, they must be agreed upon by a consensus. The overall goal of the organization is to uphold the status and reputation of diamonds while diminishing the role they play in conflicts around the world. U.S. Ambassador Gillian Milovanovic, who is head of the United States’ chairmanship, is dedicated to preserving the global demand for and trust in diamonds as a commodity.
In regard to the importance of his recent proposal, he stated that “There is a real risk that demand for and revenues from diamonds could be affected if the KP’s standard is not updated and consequently no longer provides the assurances sought by today’s and tomorrow’s consumers.”
As the members of the Kimberley Process account for nearly all of the global rough diamond trade, decisions made by the organization have a significant impact on the global market.
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