Fifty Nations Adopt Kimberley Certification Scheme

November 6, 2002

Fifty Nations Adopt Kimberley Certification Scheme

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' work among governments, the diamond industry and human rights groups to stop the trade in conflict diamonds. The certification program will launch Jan. 1, 2003.

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 Interlaken Declaration outlines in detail all steps governments will take to comply with the certification scheme. 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 Kimberley 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 Kimberley governments will meet annually to discuss the effectiveness of the scheme and plan to continue inviting industry and human rights organizations to be observers. They will also appoint review missions of nations reported as being in non-compliance with the Kimberley Process. Finally, the governments agreed to make available to interested parties the collected production, import and export statistics that the scheme will gather on a regular basis.

Going forward, the participating nations will also 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 governments promised to meet early in 2003 to put in place administrative support for the Kimberley system, to include information sharing, maintenance of statistics, collection of relevant laws and regulations and document preparation. The administrative support will also handle preparations for the governments' annual meetings.

The Interlaken Declaration also stated that countries with rebel groups suspected of mining conflict diamonds should notify other Kimberley-participating nations where this mining activity is taking place. All Kimberley 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 (WDC Approves System of Warranties to Support Kimberley). 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

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