Last gasp of the Kimberley Process


Members of the Kimberley Process (KP), this international certification mechanism which aims to eradicate “conflict diamonds”, also called blood diamonds, met in Brussels this week. While civil society proposed ambitious measures to revive this 15-year-old institution, Member States may have just signed its death warrant.

After four days of discussions of varying intensity, the members of the PK have just adopted the final communiqué of this fifteenth Plenary meeting. Despite the efforts of the European Union, President this year of the Process, and concrete proposals from observers from the coalition of civil society and the diamond industry, there will be no " strong Brussels package » (“strong package from Brussels”, to use the words of the European presidency).

The final press release simply acknowledges the proposals put forward, including the new definition proposed by civil society and the diamond industry, without formally committing to any reforms. Even the decision – a priori the most consensual – to support this process by establishing a permanent secretariat, will only be examined in detail next year by the ad hoc reform and review committee. After India, it will be Angola which will chair this work. Both countries are fiercely opposed to reforms.

For the Belgian NGO Justice and Peace, which was able to attend the discussions, the PK blatantly lacked will, its credibility is now destroyed. “ 15 years ago, this process was unique and promising » declares Agathe Smyth in charge of advocacy for Justice and Peace, “ today, we are witnessing a real charade where Member States interfere with discussions on formal clarifications or procedural details rather than responding to substantive questions. ". It is clear that after a week of discussions, the meager results are not convincing.

If no progress is made next year under the Indian Presidency – which is likely given its position – the next reform window will not take place until 2024. If some Member States are so keen on this Process which allows them to legitimize their trade and does not call into question their sometimes illicit activities, those who want to remain credible will eventually have to take responsibility. Two possibilities therefore remain possible for States wishing to move forward more quickly and guarantee true traceability of diamonds: either exit the process, or work directly on the responsibility of the companies that buy and sell diamonds.

In addition, for the Justice and Peace Commission, the PK must be honest in its communication with consumers. They need to know that these certified diamonds may not have helped finance rebel groups seeking to overthrow governments, but that they can still be extracted in a violent context where many rights are violated. It is currently impossible to guarantee that diamonds found on Belgian territory are not tainted with blood and that they truly benefit local populations. Contrary to the claims of its defenders, the PK is, in its current state, not a tool for development and conflict prevention.

Further information

The Kimberley Process is an international certification system established in 2003 to combat conflict diamonds, also called blood diamonds. Since its creation it has been the subject of numerous criticisms, in particular concerning its too narrow scope of application, its excessively flexible controls, the absence of credible sanctions, etc. This Plenary represented a major challenge because it took place in the middle of a new cycle of reform and revision. Unfortunately, as feared, this is just another missed opportunity.

This annual meeting brought together in Brussels representatives of 43 States (including the 28 Member States of the European Union), representatives of civil society, the diamond industry, the World Trade Organization and the Organization World Customs.

Agatha Smyth



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