The activist group Global Witness has withdrawn from the Kimberley Process, the diamond certification scheme it helped to create, saying the leading method for certifying conflict-free diamonds is full of flaws and loopholes.
The Kimberley campaign
Conflict diamonds (often called blood diamonds) are mined in regions controlled by rebel groups and dictatorial governments, where men, women and children are enslaved to mine the minerals – often losing their lives or limbs in the process. Rebel groups and rogue governments then sell the diamonds to raise funds to purchase arms and weaponry, while gem dealers falsify the origin of the stones to bring them to the market. Once a polished diamond reaches the market, tracing its origin becomes nearly impossible.
In their 1998 report, A Rough Trade, Global Witness brought international attention to the abuses taking place in two-thirds of the worlds mines, and the lack of scrutiny of this human rights catastrophe.
They joined with Partnership Africa Canada, the African Diamond Council, and many other NGOs to create a system known as the Kimberley Process to certify diamonds as conflict-free. It quickly grew to become the number one certification process recognised by the diamond industry.
Full of flaws
But now Global Witness says the process has become so full of flaws and loopholes that it allows governments and rebels to deal in conflict diamonds while showing no interest in reform – acting, instead, as collaborators in the integration of dirty stones into the market.
According to the Kimberley Process, countries who have signed up to the certification mechanism may not purchase diamonds from areas marked as conflict zones, and must verify the region in which the diamonds were mined. While the Kimberley Process may be helping to slow the sale of diamonds into certain countries, Global Witness contends that the regulations are too relaxed. The group says that governments and dealers have turned a blind eye – with some disregarding the regulations altogether – allowing the sale of blood diamonds to Kimberley Process participants.
Global Witness believes the problem to be so bad that they are resigning from the group they created. Other members say they don't plan to follow Global Witness's lead, but admit that they share the same concerns.
Take action: Let's stand with Global Witness and call for a real end to the trade of blood diamonds. With the chairmanship of the committee changing to the United States on 1 January, our voices can ensure a stop to the dirty diamonds. Send a note to the US Kimberly Process Association.