Kimberley Process Inches Forward

October 1, 2001

Kimberley Process Inches Forward

Despite some setbacks, delegates at the eighth meeting of the Kimberley Process, held Sept. 11-13 in England, say progress was made toward completion of an international certification system for rough diamonds. Such a system is intended to purge conflict diamonds from the legitimate trade supply. The Kimberley Process involves diamond importing and exporting countries, the diamond industry through its World Diamond Council and other non-governmental observers, such as human rights groups.

According to World Diamond Council delegates, the only problem that surfaced during the latest meeting resulted from comments made by Tom DeVries, an official of the European Union. He implied that since EU countries belong to an economic union, the system of rough diamond controls would be treated as a matter of sovereignty for EU countries, and therefore could not be imposed on individual countries. (An approximate analogy would be that individual states in the U.S. do not each have to undergo a rigorous system of controls.)

DeVries' comments were met with heated debate. Representatives from non-governmental organizations and WDC delegates fear a lack of controls for individual importing countries could lead to loopholes whereby conflict diamonds would inevitably enter the diamond distribution system. Producing countries objected as well, saying it was simply not fair that controls for export would be imposed on them but not on individual EU countries. While this impasse has not yet been overcome, a few delegates say they feel confident it will be resolved by the next meeting.

Some key elements of the international certification system were agreed upon in principle at the London meeting and will be used as a basis for further agreements. They include:

  • The use of forgery resistant certificates and tamper-proof containers for shipments of rough diamonds.
  • Internal controls and procedures which provide credible assurance that conflict diamonds do not enter the legal market.
  • A certification process for all exports of rough diamonds.
  • The collation and sharing of import and export data on rough diamonds with other participants of relevant production.
  • Credible monitoring and oversight of the international certification scheme for rough diamonds.
  • Effective enforcement of the provisions of the certification scheme through dissuasive and proportional penalties for violations.
  • The useful role of self-regulation by the diamond industry which fulfills minimum requirements.
  • The sharing of information with all other participants on relevant rules, procedures and legislation, as well as examples of national certificates used to accompany shipments of rough diamonds.
The meeting, held in Twickenham, England, was disrupted for a day due to the World Trade Center attacks. Two final meetings of the Kimberley Process are scheduled in late October and November, at which the finalization of a minimum of common standards for rough diamond exports and imports is to be endorsed by all sides.

The Kimberley Process is expected to report to the 56th session of the United Nations General Assembly in November on progress achieved.

- by Robert Weldon, G.G.

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