Fifty Nations Adopt Kimberley System
The certification program launches Jan. 1
Governments from nations around the world that mine, trade and cut rough diamonds formally adopted the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme on Nov. 5 in Interlaken, Switzerland. The Interlaken Declaration is the culmination of two years of work among governments, the diamond industry and human rights groups to stop the trade in conflict diamonds. The certification program begins Jan. 1.
The governments signing the document included representatives of all the major rough diamond importing and exporting countries, including most of those accused of conflict diamond trading. Liberia was a notable exception.
The declaration outlines in detail all steps the governments will take to comply with the certification program. To start, countries will create systems of internal controls with penalties for violations to prevent conflict diamonds from getting into rough diamond shipments. They will appoint import/export authorities to verify sealed diamond shipments and authorize official Kimberley Process certificates guaranteeing diamonds are conflict-free.
In addition, the governments affirmed their determination to monitor effectively the trade in rough diamonds in order to detect and to prevent trade in conflict diamonds. We consider the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme as an ongoing international process. The governments will meet annually to discuss the programs effectiveness and will continue inviting industry and human rights organizations to be observers. They also will appoint review missions of nations reported as being in non-compliance with the Kimberley Process. They agreed to make available to interested parties the statistics the program will gather on a regular basis.
Participants will appoint one government each year to chair the Kimberley Process, with South Africa the chair for 2003. That chair will oversee investigations into possible violations and handle all exchanges of information among the countries taking part in Kimberley.
The Interlaken Declaration also says countries with rebel groups suspected of mining conflict diamonds should notify other Kimberley-participating nations. All participants should make known the names of those convicted of activities violating the Kimberley principles.
The agreement to certify rough diamonds comes on the heels of an Oct. 29 agreement by the World Diamond Congress to put in place a voluntary industry system of warranties that will continue to track diamonds after they are vetted conflict-free by the new Kimberley rough certification system (see story below). This means retailers will receive warranties that the diamonds they sell have been tracked from their original export and are conflict-free.
by Peggy Jo Donahue