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Is the Diamond Kimberley Process reliable or a flop?
Mar 18, 2022

People all around the world are starting to awaken to the reality of climate change and the need to urgently pivot to a more sustainable and ethical future. They are also, rightly so, asking the pointed question of who or what is really to blame for this accelerated deterioration? The answer is almost always corporate and industrial greed. Those with power will always exploit the planet’s atmosphere, ecosystem, and finally, the poorest for profit. Consequently, these influential people and organisations are fundamentally opposed to this drive towards ethics and sustainability that can potentially risk their margins.

It is inevitable, and therefore, when faced with growing pressure from the public, those responsible will attempt to hide and misdirect their operations instead of truly changing for the better. There is no better example of this than the diamond mining industry. They have been proven by many journalists and NGOs to directly cause unprecedented human and ecological destruction. The diamonds unearthed through slave labour rightfully earned mined diamonds the now infamous moniker “Blood Diamonds”. A vast majority of diamonds can be found in conflict-ridden areas where the rule of law is scarce and is almost always controlled by armed militias or paramilitaries who use slave labour in the pursuit of digging up diamonds. These ‘Conflict diamonds’ subsequently sold in the global market are vital lifelines for countless corrupt and morally bankrupt companies, warlords, politicians, and businessmen who are all unwilling to comply with the drive towards responsibility and substantiality by consumers and governments around the world and witness their profit from ‘Blood Diamonds’ dry up.

 

What exactly is The Kimberley Process?


In an attempt to combat the negative connotation of “Blood Diamonds” and greenwash them to “Conflict-Free Diamonds” without addressing any of the underlying issues, the mined diamond industry created the “The Kimberly Process”. The Kimberley Process proudly claims to disrupt the proliferation of conflict diamonds worldwide. They are an association of rough diamond, or freshly mined diamond, suppliers who banded together to protect ‘legitimate trade’ in rough diamonds. Nevertheless, like the many other preceding attempts by the mined diamond industry, ‘The Kimberley Process’ in practice is just a glorified marketing campaign trying to fool responsible customers into buying ‘Blood Diamonds’ by making them seem they are sustainably and ethically sourced.

To understand why ‘The Kimberley Process’ is so dangerous and harmful, we have to start with the organisation itself. Taken directly from their website: “The KP is not, strictly speaking, an international organisation: it has no permanent offices or permanent staff. It relies on the contributions – under the principle of ‘burden-sharing’ – of participants, supported by industry and civil society observers. Neither can the KP be considered as an international agreement from a legal perspective, as it is implemented through the national legislations of its participants.” Simply told, is they are a loosely held organisation with no office or any full-time employees. They answer to no one but themselves since they are not regulated by any certification boards, regulatory governments, NGOs or even independent auditors.

Why they felt the need to create ‘The Kimberley Process’ tells you more about the mined diamond industry’s long-term goal. A coalition of diamond miners and suppliers gathered together and came up with a respectable sounding name to assure customers that the rough diamonds they are selling and supplying are conflict-free. After all, they felt their profits were at risk because their products were being labelled as ‘Blood Diamonds’. If they were serious about implementing real change and accountability, they would have used independent certifications and audits, but instead, they did nothing. After all, an organisation whose every member has the chance to sneak in ‘Blood Diamonds’ with other diamonds will never hold itself accountable and therefore cannot be trusted.
Another glaring red flag is that the process of ‘passing’ the certification for ‘The Kimberley Process’ is stupidly simple. In short, when a supplier sells rough diamonds to another supplier, they provide a certificate of origin that certifies that the diamonds belong to the diamond Kimberley Process and, therefore, conflict-free. But, you might be asking, who certifies the certificates? They certify themselves, of course! The sellers of ‘Blood Diamonds’ accrediting their own certificates and then selling to other suppliers who also certify themselves to stay within the chain of ‘The Kimberley Process’ ensures that all the members are covering for each other and protect themselves from regulators and auditors rendering the process an overblown joke at the expense of the consumers and the environment.
‘Blood Diamonds’ can never be truly traced to their source of origin with any
reasonable degree of certainty. Suppliers have always been regularly mixing
conflict diamonds with diamonds from regulated mines, a process made possible since a diamond from one mine is indistinguishable from a diamond unearthed from another mine, just like any other stone or gem. ‘The Kimberley Process’, or any other simple process, cannot solve the deep-rooted problems of suppliers easily certifying themselves in an attempt to cover up the grim realities of ‘Blood Diamonds’, benefiting themselves at the expense of everyone else and the earth.