The Kimberley Process
How did the diamond industry get to a place where it can sell diamonds mined by children and market those diamonds to the public as ethically-certified? The diamond industry’s response came in the form of a new diamond certification scheme called the Kimberley Process which was launched in 2003.
The Kimberley Process is composed of 81 national governments and includes active participation from the diamond industry and non-profit groups. In principle, it is supposed to evaluate conditions in diamond-producing countries and certify that the diamonds being exported are “conflict free.”
At first, supporters for a more ethical diamond industry were optimistic that the Kimberley Process could become an effective tool for change. Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada helped to found the Kimberley Process and for years worked hard to improve it from the inside. Both organizations were co-nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003.
Regrettably, the Kimberley Process has failed to live up to its initial promise. One of its most glaring problems is that it has not authorized strict enough rules to stop diamond smuggling. Even when it declines to certify diamonds from a certain country, those diamonds still wind up in the international diamond supply with false Kimberley Process paperwork.
But its most fatal flaw is its narrow focus. Under the Kimberley Process, “conflict diamonds” are defined as diamonds used by rebel groups to fund civil wars. If a diamond isn’t funding a rebel group, it isn’t a conflict diamond, according to the Kimberley Process.
What this means is that the Kimberley Process grants conflict free certification to large numbers of diamonds tainted by bloodshed, child labour, sexual violence, and other injustices—all problems that remain very much a part of diamond mining today.