One of the more successful International agreements operated under the auspices of the United Nations has been the Kimberley Process. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme to give it its full title, or KPCS, was set up to end the trade in so-called ‘Blood Diamonds’ sourced from areas of conflict, largely funded by the mining of diamonds.
The cause was popularized by the 2007 movie ‘Blood Diamonds’ starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and the first International steps were taken the following year when the U.N imposed sanctions against UNITA (The National Union For The Total Independence Of Angola) for electoral malpractice and resorting to armed conflict. In May 2000 representatives from the diamond producing states of Southern Africa met in Kimberley, South Africa, to discuss ways in which the diamond trade could be regulated to ensure that they came from areas which were conflict free.
In December that year the UN adopted a resolution supporting the creation of an International Certification Scheme for rough diamonds and by November 2002 negotiations between Governments, the Diamond Industry and Civil Society Organizations led to the creation of the KPCS. This agreement was adopted by the UN Security Council in January 2003, since when the KPCS has been implemented amongst participating countries. Membership is open to all countries and as of December 2010 the KPCS has 49 members representing 75 countries, the member states of the European Union having a sole representative.
The success of the Kimberley Process can be measured by the fact that the participating members account for 99.8% of World Rough Diamond production. Whilst small scale diamond trafficking is still a problem in some parts of the World, particularly in the supply of higher value ‘fancy colored’ Diamonds such as Yellow Diamonds, the threat of expulsion from the KPCS has ensured that any infringements of the agreement are on a very small scale.
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme requires its members to certify that the diamonds originating or transiting its territory have come from a region which is ‘Conflict Free’. States which participate in the KPCS must pass National laws and set up Institutions to monitor the export, import and internal passage of diamonds on its territory. In addition they must agree to full transparency and the exchange of statistical data between participating members. Any International shipment of rough diamonds must be accompanied by a Kimberley Process Certificate guaranteeing their origin to have been conflict free and members must only legally trade with other participants of the scheme.
The Kimberley Process is chaired on a rotating basis with South Africa, India and the European Union having all so far fulfilled this role. Although the Kimberley Process is monitored and enforced at bi-annual inter sessional meetings and through review visits, annual reporting and data sharing between participating members, there have been some difficulties in the full implementation of the terms of the agreement. One such is the traditional secrecy of the established diamond market centers such as Antwerp in Belgium.
The Republic of Congo was removed from the KPCS between the years 2004 and 2007 for being unable to prove the origin of the diamonds it produced. Trade in Diamonds from the Ivory Coast were prohibited in 2005 when they were deemed to have originated in a conflict zone and Venezuela voluntarily removed itself from the KPCS in 2008 after having been in non-compliance of its conditions for several years. Currently diamonds produced at the Marange diamond fields in Zimbabwe are under widespread pressure from some KPCS members and International Human Rights organizations to be removed from the scheme and treated as ‘Blood Diamonds’.
However in many ways these difficulties illustrate just how far the Diamond Industry has come from the days before the Kimberley Process when such abuses were widespread and largely ignored by the World at large.