For Kimberley Process, Next Challenge is Broadening Mandate on Conflict Diamonds

For Kimberley Process, Next Challenge is Broadening Mandate on Conflict Diamonds

A meeting of the Kimberley Process in New York last week concluded without agreement on redefining the term “conflict diamond.” But if the American chairwoman, Gillian Milovanovic, failed in this key endeavor, she can at least claim some measure of success in ensuring that the process was not completely derailed by its persistent and deep divisions.

The World Diamond Council estimates the world’s diamond trade to be worth $13 billion annually, employing approximately 10 million people. The Kimberley Process was established in 2003 in response to diamond-funded conflicts in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, to certify shipments of rough diamonds as “conflict-free.” A unique collaboration among 80 diamond exporting and importing nations, top industry groups and human rights NGOs, the Kimberley Process narrowly defines conflict diamonds, commonly known as “blood diamonds,” as “rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance armed conflicts aimed at undermining legitimate governments.”

The Kimberley Process has been remarkably successful in achieving results on this basis. In the 1990s, conflict diamonds were estimated to represent 15 percent of international trade. That proportion is now down to 0.1 percent, with a small number of conflict diamonds finding their way into the market with fake certificates.

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