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Conflict Diamonds

There is a lot of interest, and internet searches, concerning “conflict diamonds” – we want to set the record straight.

A civil war in Sierra Leone effectively resulted in the creation of the Kimberly Process. Rest at ease – ALL rough diamonds sold by are conflict free, and That is quite easy because there are NO “conflicts” encumbering the worlds diamonds at this time!!

Songs about Sierra Leone by Kanye West and movies by Leonardo DiCaprio such as “Blood Diamonds” are memorializing events that occurred in the past – actually a decade (10 years+) ago.

The Sierra Leone Civil War began in 1991 by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) under Foday Sankoh. Tens of thousands died and more than 2 million people (well over one-third of the population) were displaced because of the 11-year conflict. Neighboring countries became host to significant numbers of refugees attempting to escape the civil war.

It was officially declared over on 18 January 2002.

While there are still areas (mostly in Africa) that are on always the brink of conflict, thankfully the horrors of Sierra Leone and the fear of “conflict diamonds” is mostly a thing of the past.

The Kimberly Process

The Kimberley process started when Southern African diamond-producing states met in Kimberley, South Africa, in May 2000, to discuss ways to stop the trade in “conflict diamonds” and ensure that diamond purchases were not funding violence.

In December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a landmark resolution supporting the creation of an international certification scheme for rough diamonds. By November 2002, negotiations between governments, the international diamond industry and civil society organizations resulted in the creation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) . The KPCS document sets out the requirements for controlling rough diamond production and trade. The KPCS entered into force in 2003, when participating countries started to implement its rules.

Who is involved?

The Kimberley Process (KP) is open to all countries that are willing and able to implement its requirements. As of January 2012, the KP has 50 participants, representing 76 countries, with the European Union and its Member States counting as a single participant. KP members account for approximately 99.8% of the global production of rough diamonds. In addition, the World Diamond Council, representing the international diamond industry, and civil society organisations, such as Partnership-Africa Canada, participate in the KP and have played a major role since its outset.

How does the Kimberley Process work?

The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) imposes extensive requirements (*) on its members to enable them to certify shipments of rough diamonds as “conflict-free” and prevent conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate trade. Under the terms of the KPCS, participating states must meet “minimum requirements” and must put in place national legislation and institutions; export, import and internal controls; and also commit to transparency and the exchange of statistical data. Participants can only legally trade with other participants who have also met the minimum requirements of the scheme, and international shipments of rough diamonds must be accompanied by a KP certificate guaranteeing that they are conflict-free.

The Kimberley Process is chaired, on a rotating basis, by participating countries. So far, South Africa, Canada, Russia, Botswana, the European Community have chaired the KP, and India is the Chair in 2008. KP participating countries and industry and civil society observers gather twice a year at intercessional and plenary meetings, as well as in working groups and committees that meet on a regular basis. Implementation is monitored through review visits and annual reports as well as by regular exchange and analysis of statistical data.

The Kimberley Process: unique and effective

The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) has evolved into an effective mechanism for stemming the trade in conflict diamonds and is recognized as a unique conflict-prevention instrument to promote peace and security. The joint efforts of governments, industry leaders and civil society representatives have enabled the Kimberley Process (KP) to curb successfully the flow of conflict diamonds in a very short period of time. Diamond experts estimate that conflict diamonds now represent a fraction of one percent of the international trade in diamonds, compared to estimates of up to 15% in the 1990s. That has been the KP’s most remarkable contribution to a peaceful world, which should be measured not in terms of carats, but by the effects on people’s lives.

The KP has done more than just stem the flow of conflict diamonds; it has also helped stabilize fragile countries and supported their development. As the KP has made life harder for criminals, it has brought large volumes of diamonds onto the legal market that would not otherwise have made it there. This has increased the revenues of poor governments, and helped them to address their countries development challenges. For instance, some $125 million worth of diamonds were legally exported from Sierra Leone in 2006, compared to almost none at the end of the 1990s.

In 2006, a review of the KP confirmed its effectiveness, and recommended a number of actions to further strengthen the system in areas such as monitoring of implementation and strengthening internal controls in participating countries, as well as greater transparency in the gathering of statistical data.

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