The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) is a scheme designed to prevent conflict diamonds (also known as blood diamonds) entering the mainstream rough diamond market. The scheme was set up to try to assure consumers that by purchasing diamonds they were not financing war and human rights abuses. 98% of the world's trade in rough diamonds takes place in and between countries taking part in the scheme.
The scheme originated from a meeting of South African diamond producing states in Kimberley in May 2000. In December of 2000 the General Assembly of the United Nations passed a resolution calling for the creation of a scheme that would allow certification of diamonds that had not been sold in order to finance civil war. The KPCS was finally agreed upon by nations involved in the trade of diamond and diamond-mining and production companies, notably De Beers and the World Diamond Council, in November 2002.
In order for a country to be able to participant in the scheme, it must ensure
- that any diamond originating from the country does not finance a rebel group or other entity seeking to overthrow a UN-recognized government.
- that every diamond export be accompanied by a Kimberley Process certificate proving (1).
- that no diamond is imported from, or exported to, a non-member of the scheme.
This three-step plans is a simple description of the steps taken to ensure a "chain" of countries that deal exclusively with non-conflict diamonds. Details of the scheme can be found in the official KPCS document linked in the external links section below.
The scheme is essentially self-enforced. Supervision of the Process is done by the Chair, elected on an annual basis at a plenary meeting. A Working Group on Monitoring monitors each participant to ensure that it is implementing the scheme correctly. The Working Group reports to the Chair. Other working groups include the Technical Working Group (or Working Group of Diamond Experts) which reports on difficulties in implementing the scheme and proposed solutions, and the Statistics Working Group, which reports diamond trading data. The Participation Committee reports to the Chair on its recommendations on proposed members hoping to join the scheme. The Selection Committee reports on its recommendations on who should be the next Vice-Chair. After a year of being Vice-Chair, the successful candidate becomes the Chair.
In July 2001, Congo was removed from the scheme because it was found unable to prove the origin of its gems. For countries economically dependent on diamond exports, this can be a substantial punishment, as it disallows trade with much of the rest of the world.
Whilst the Process has been broadly welcomed by groups aiming to improve human rights in countries previously affected by conflict diamonds, such as Angola, some say the scheme does not go far enough. For instance, Amnesty International says "[We] welcome the Kimberley Process as important step to dealing with the problem of conflict diamonds. But until the diamond trade is subject to mandatory, impartial monitoring, there is still no effective guarantee that all conflict diamonds will be identified and removed from the market." Canadian aid group One Sky (funded in part by the Canadian government) concurs with Amnesty's view saying "If effectively implemented, the Kimberley Process will ensure that diamonds cannot be used to finance war and atrocities [..] However, without a system of expert, independent and periodic reviews of all countries, the overall process remains open to abuse." An example of abuse would be smuggling conflict diamonds into a certified facility or country. Since by some estimates up to 30% of the rough output of some diamond mines is smuggled out illegally, detecting such abuse is a formidable challenge.
Nations participating in the scheme
- Central African Republic
- People's Republic of China
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- Côte d'Ivoire
- The 25 member states of the European Union
- Republic of Korea
- Lao People's Democratic Republic
- Russian Federation
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- Sri Lanka
- United Arab Emirates
- United States of America
- Official homepage of the Process's Secretariat (http://www.kimberleyprocess.com:8080/)
- Document describing in detail the participant's obligations (PDF format) (http://www.kimberleyprocess.com:8080/site/content/KPCS.pdf)
- BBC News report on Congo's removal from the scheme (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3889221.stm)
- De Beers group on the Kimberley Process (http://www.debeersgroup.com/hotTopics/cdIntroduction.asp)
- Amnesty International on the Kimberley Process (http://www.amnesty.ca/realsecurity/conflictdiamonds.php)
- One Sky on the Kimberley Process (http://www.onesky.ca/diamonds/actions.html)