“The Kimberley Process (KP) is a joint governments, industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of conflict diamonds – rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments.” –from the KP website
In the late 1990s, numerous reports detailing the devastating effects of the diamond trade on unstable diamond-producing regions of Africa garnered international attention. The reports revealed that many violent militias, insurgent groups and warlords in Africa received their primary funding from dealing diamonds to reputable Western buyers, thereby prolonging bloody civil conflicts – and that it had been happening for decades.
In 2003 after three years of negotiations between governments, diamond industry players, and civil society organizations, the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme was drafted and enacted with the support of the United Nations as a means of stemming the flow of “conflict diamonds” into legitimate diamond markets. The process imposes rigorous requirements on participants to ensure that the diamonds crossing their borders comply fully with “non-conflict” standards; diamonds that do not have a Kimberly Process Certification will be turned away or impounded by customs agents of participating countries. Currently more than 40 countries participate in the process (the European Union and its Member States count as a single participant). Participating countries account for 99.8% of global rough diamond production, and diamond trade for participants is restricted to other compliant participants.
The process places the burden of enforcement on the participant countries themselves, meaning that individual countries are responsible for the vetting of diamonds that enter and exit their borders. A corollary to the process is the Voluntary System of Warranties, which requires that during any transaction involving diamonds, the seller must affirm on the invoice that the diamonds have been obtained through authorized channels. Critics cite this voluntary aspect of the KP as its greatest weakness, claiming that without objective oversight, the system is subject to fraud and manipulation. Debate currently centers around how the process can and should be updated to account for new challenges to the integrity of the KP Certification.
The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme is an integral piece of the framework of the global diamond trade, and for it to be effective, actors at every level of the diamond trade must be fully aware of the voluntary conditions of participation. GSI was proud to partner with the US Kimberly Process Authority (USKPA) and the World Diamond Council (WDC) to produce an educational poster designed to inform diamond manufacturers and retailers about the requirements of the process (click image to view larger .pdf version):