Is there any power in shared value in business? There certainly seems to be, judging by the impact of the Kimberley Process (KP) on the rough diamond supply chain. With over 50 participants representing 82 countries, the KP has come a long way since its inception in the early 2000s. Non-governmental and human rights activists have lauded KP’s work in its concerted attempts at eliminating forced labor in diamond exploration. The humanitarians have also joined in their dozens to contribute and support the efforts of KP. The KP certification scheme is one of the surefire regulatory measures put in place to seal possible bottlenecks. Today, the distribution and supply of conflict diamonds have been virtually extinguished. As it stands, the KP can account for 99.8 percent of the global rough diamond market. Read further to understand how the KP maintains a vice-like grip and curtails the commerce of blood diamonds.
Side note: The images used in this text are conflict-free diamonds from credible sources.
The Pre-KP Era and the Roots of the KP Certification Scheme
Before the year 2000, African diamond producers and exporters, especially in central and western Africa, suffered innumerable armed conflicts. Some of the most affected African states included Angola, Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire, and the Republic of Congo, each having diamond deposits and a direct association with the diamond industry. The connection to diamonds escalated the violent paramilitary clashes, mainly funded by blood diamonds. Blood or conflict diamonds are the stones produced through child and forced labor and under degrading human conditions. The mined stones are also illegally exported to global black markets. The proceeds benefit a few individuals primarily by financing wars and advancing foul political and territorial aims. Terrorist militias, political rebel groups, and illegal diamonds businesses are part of the clique that enjoys the dirty money. Such was the situation and still is—to some extent—in the countries. Blood diamonds pose severe threats to the peace, security, and sustainable development of the affected countries.
On the African continent, many local and national economies depend on the diamond industry directly and indirectly. The stability of these nations was dependent on the survival of their diamond economies. It set the wheels in motion for all concerned parties to lay the foundation for the KP. In the late 1990s, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) set out to reverse the effects of conflict diamonds. The Canada-Africa partnership provided oversight, while the UNSC conveyed official communication on the matter. With the international community's help, sanctions were introduced to end the import of rough diamonds from Angola. Angolan diamond exports needed to be accompanied by a Certificate of Origin.
After sanctions on other conflicts embroiled African diamond producers took effect. It is a directive that proved effective, promising enough to attract the backing of the G8 summit in 2000. Following the summit, a global discourse on blood diamonds ensued. The resolution welcomed the idea of an international agreement on the standardization and supply of rough diamonds. Lo and behold, the UN adopted resolution 55/56 and enticed diamond producers and dealers to lockout conflict stones. The KP arose after several high profile meetings between the UN and a contingent of southern African diamond-producing nations. The UN adopted it as part of the G8 Africa Action Plan. As a reinforcement, the G8 and a robust certification scheme back the KP; one reason why it effectively curbs the trade of blood diamonds in legal diamond markets.
Who is the face of the KP?
The KP Member Countries
11.The Central African Republic
13.The Democratic Republic of the Congo
36.Republic of the Congo
47.Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu
51.United Arab Emirates
52.United States of America
The above list represents the cohort of nations with vested interests in the rough diamond industry. It is by no means a permanent register and is subject to change. Members such as the United Arab Emirates and the European Union are considered regional block participants. The additional representation comes from observers. They are mainly civil organizations in the member countries and beyond, industry associations, and not-for-profits. Bodies with a predominant relationship with the KP include:
●The World Diamond Council (represents the international commercial diamond trade)
●The Diamond Development Initiative
●African Diamond Producers
●The UN and the African Union (and partners).
The KP holds several inter-sessional meetings as well as an annual plenary session. The top agenda of the plenary is to elect a chair and vice-chair of the KP certification scheme. Plenaries ensure rotation of the two posts among all member states for inclusive managerial representation. Besides a chair and co-chair, the KP has several working groups and committees. You can look at these as affiliates of the KP, with leadership and support drawn from the pool of members. Monitoring the laws introduced and gathering current information and statistics are fundamentals in the implementation of the KP. The working groups fulfill these and other essential needs for oversight of the KP certification scheme in member countries. Here is a list of the custodians of the KP’s day-to-day functions:
●Working Group on Monitoring: Keeps track of the working of the KP among members.
●Working Group on Statistics: Collects data on rough diamond production and its trade between member states.
●Committee on Rules and Procedure: Reviews the KP regulations and makes necessary adjustments.
●Committee on Review and Reform: Works on improving administrative and financial arms of the KP.
●Committee on Participation and Chairmanship: Onboards new members, assesses, and advises on the candidates for the chairmanship and the deputy position.
●Working Group on Artisanal and Alluvial Production: Helps to strengthen audit systems for the production and sale of alluvial diamonds.
●Working Group on Diamond Experts: Provides technical support for the smooth flow of the KP.
What You Need to Know About the KP
As a participant country, each member must meet stringent minimum requirements. Going by the terms and conditions of the KP, member states must tweak their national legislation and internal controls to fit the rough diamond trade. That means creating regulatory measures and appointing institutions to authorize the KP certification scheme within their sovereign borders. The KP commanding authorities, on behalf of their countries, must also commit to co-operation. Participants can only trade with those legal participants who meet the bare minimums of the KP legal framework. To maintain a working relationship, participants must continuously provide information on their KP enactment transparently. It is because data is the most critical component in gauging estimated targets to actual performance.
A valid KP certificate accompanies the export-import shipments of the sawn diamonds. Undoubtedly, diamond valuation and a few other processes precede certification. The shipment can be single or multiple parcels of diamonds. Whatever the amount, each package is certified as a single unit and shipped in a tamper-proof container. Each participant country has a
KP certification office. The import and export processes are the same, though there could be notable differences. In the UAE, for instance, the KP compliance requires certification of rough diamonds as small as 1 millimeter. The rough stone can be in solid or powder form and hand-carried. Either way, it will need a KP certificate and declaration at customs in all UAE destinations. So, always do your research before transacting with a particular KP member state. Following is a general snapshot of the KP certification scheme stipulations for the export-import of rough diamonds. An excerpt from the KP certification scheme core document assumes that you are a business in the rough diamond industry in a KP member country.
The Process to Export Rough Diamonds
The KP’s definition of rough diamonds is the unworked (not cut and polished), cleaved, or bruted stones. Processed diamonds do not pass as the raw kind. Even rough diamonds that are set on mounts or other jewelry are not considered rough diamonds. Any form of development—however minute—renders them non-rough, placing them outside parameters of the KP core document. First and foremost, you need to identify the export authority in your country of operation. Again, depending on the nation, the institution could be a parastatal or an independent government-mandated body that issues KP certificates. Upon identification of such an export authority, visit their offices and start the certification process.
You must also do your due diligence in terms of establishing the exact mine source of the diamonds. The KP requires member state governments to recognize and issue licenses to legitimate mines. Provisions in the KP certification scheme document also advocate for the organization of alluvial and artisanal miners into communities and associations. It is the best bet at curbing child abuse and converting forced labor into fair employment. The export authority verifies the validity of the rough stones and issues a KP certificate. The certificates come in different languages but have an English translation and always contain:
- The signature KP certificate title “Kimberley Process Certificate,” and an official statement that says, “The rough diamonds in this shipment have been handled under the provisions of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme for rough diamonds.”
- The country of origin of the shipment and the total number of parcels. Shipment parcel(s) could contain one sizeable rough diamond. It could also be a single or several parcels carrying unmixed or mixed rough diamonds. When unmixed, the stones come from the same place of origin and vice versa.
- A specific numbering based on the Alpha 2 ISO country codes.
- The name of the issuing authority alongside the date of issue and expiry and validity of the certificate.
- The full details of both the exporter and importer.
- Product (rough diamonds) details: carat weight (ct), the value of the stones in US dollars, and a harmonized commodity description and code. Remember, the importers and exporters are all KP member states. The harmonized description and coding of rough diamond shipments enable participating countries to synchronize the classification of the stones. The common classification of traded rough diamonds makes the process easier for the correlating custom authorities.
Despite bearing universally accepted information, the shape and form of the KP certificates vary from country-to-country. You could come across a KP certificate that has extra security elements and additional data. A good example is a KP certificate that discloses the quality features of the rough diamonds. Like with regular packages, the receiving country’s (importer’s) information and date of receipt by the importing authority may be disclosed. At times, the rough diamonds get shipped in a clear security bag, with the unique, tamper-resistant certificate number printed on it. The import process is very similar to the exportation process. The KP advises proper record keeping on rough diamonds coming in or going out of a given KP member country for at least three years. The records must be procedurally and readily availed for reference upon request by the KP chairmanship or any working group.
Despite all the praise, the KP certification scheme has not escaped criticism. A section of human rights watchdogs and anti-crusaders of the KP has taken it to the task. The main concerns have, in large part, surrounded the continued human rights violations in member countries such as Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is fair enough, but before raising a finger to scold the KP certification scheme, look at the following statistics. Approximately 15 percent of the rough diamonds produced worldwide are of gem quality. Of the 15 percent, roughly 65 percent come from Africa.
Additionally, 20 percent of the world’s industrial diamonds come from the Democratic Republic of Congo. At the height of the diamond-funded conflict in Africa, blood diamonds accounted for nearly a quarter (over 140,000 in carat weight) of rough diamonds in the diamond marketplace. By 2014, the KP had reduced that number to between 5 and 10 percent. Current estimates place the number of conflict diamonds at below 1 percent of the global diamond market. It shows how the joint efforts of the participant countries have played a significant role in stemming conflict-diamonds. The importance of the KP speaks for itself.
The claims by the Human Rights Watch and Global Witness make sense. But they are only a handful of isolated cases. The highly-publicized Marange diamond mines incident in eastern Zimbabwe, the diamond industry lawlessness in Venezuela, and the underage Congolese miners are mishaps. The respective political regimes in those countries are at fault. You cannot expect the KP chairmanship and its administrative working groups to be "omnipresent," which is the whole point of having member state governments formulate internal regulatory standards to govern the KP certification scheme. So, when Venezuela blatantly disregards internal controls, one cannot do much unless they cooperate with the KP leadership. And what is the Democratic Republic of Congo doing to keep minors off the mines? They have financial resources to build infrastructure to put the kids back in school and improve the lives of mining communities. Why that is not happening is a poor governance issue. Besides, trends now show an increase in the little-known exploitative adventures of multinationals that are after a different kind of mineral ore. Congolese rebels now control most of these minerals used in the production of mobile phones and computers. Guess what? The minerals industry may need yet another intervention to stop this new insurgency.
Calls to strengthen the KP process and the creation of a third-party enforcer have been in the making. The consensus required by the member states could be causing a bit of a drag. But it is expected given that the KP membership touches on free trade zones and a significant portion of the GDP of the KP participant countries. They have a right to consult internally before making any drastic rough diamond trade commitments. The World Diamond Council’s system of guarantees continues to ensure end-users buy conflict-free diamonds. And the superb implementation of the KP in countries such as Canada is evidence that the certification scheme does work.
The KP is a system. Systems are only as good as the people running them. Rather than protest the KP certification scheme, you are better off contributing to reforming it. And the introduction of blockchain technology in tracking diamonds from the mines to jewelry shops is an excellent starting point. After all, it is the only relevant mechanism fighting against blood diamonds for more than a decade.