Keep the Kimberley Process Alive
Many stakeholders in the jewelry industry stopped worrying about conflict diamonds when it became clear consumers would continue to buy despite publicity linking some diamonds to horrific human rights abuses. But those with a strong moral compass know its important to keep the pressure on the United States government and the world to stop the scourge of these tainted diamonds. The way to do that is through support of the Kimberley Process and its worldwide secure trading network for diamonds, scheduled to launch in November.
The Kimberley secure network involves government-issued certificates that will accompany legitimate rough diamonds from mine to export, then on to the countries where they are first imported. After the stones have been vetted conflict-free by the importing nation, an industry-devised system of warranties will follow these untainted diamonds on their circuitous journeys to the retail counter. Every dealer, cutter, manufacturer and retailer will keep records warranting that the diamonds they buy, cut, set and sell began within the Kimberley network. Each companys auditors will verify records are being kept.
Besides keeping records, what else can you do to support the system? Defend the Kimberley Process and urge support for it among your colleagues. Though there were valid criticisms the Kimberley trading network wasnt strong enough when originally agreed to last year, a meeting of the Kimberley delegates in March in Ottawa, Canada, addressed these weaknesses, and the group is fixing them.
The Kimberley network will be administered, audited and monitored by its members, including the industry-led World Diamond Council, and WDC will maintain records of each countrys certificates, legislation and import/export data to ensure conflict diamonds arent circumventing the network. A Kimberley review commission will investigate violations, and individual governments will inflict punishments. World Trade Organization experts, meeting in a special Kimberley committee, examined whether the secure trading network might risk WTO challenges. It recommended the Kimberley network go forward because its unlikely to run into major problems.
The other key task jewelers can accomplish is encouraging Congress to pass legislation supporting the Kimberley Process. Write to your senators asking them to vote in favor of the latest bill: S. 2027, The Clean Diamond Trade Act. This bill, if passed and signed into law, would provide authority to the U.S. Customs Service to keep non-Kimberley-compliant diamonds out of the U.S. This latest Senate bill is stronger than the one the House passed last year. It would more forcefully require the president to prohibit rough diamond imports from countries not taking effective measures to stop conflict diamond trade. The bill also would require the president to stop shipments of polished diamonds or diamond jewelry if there is credible evidence they contain conflict diamonds. WDC endorsed the new Senate bill and will work for its passage and companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
At the end of March, CIBJO, the World Jewellery Confederation, passed a resolution affirming its commitment to the Kimberley Process. The resolution urges all CIBJO trade organization members to communicate with their national governments and the European Union to express the need for swift enactment of the worldwide secure trading network. CIBJO member organizations also resolved to help their members comply with the industrys system of warranties. It will provide vital networking assistance to this worldwide effort.
U.S. jewelers can show the world they fully support efforts to end the conflict diamond trade. This is the final push. Write to your legislators today.
Peggy Jo Donahue