As highlighted in my last post, the Kimberley Process (KP) is failing in its mission of keeping blood diamonds out of international markets. To demand far-reaching reforms of this international body first it is needed to better understand how it works and what the backdrop is. That will be my purposes with this post.
(Click on the picture to enlarge)
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was introduced by the UN General Assembly following recommendations of the Fowler Report. It outlined violations of the Lusaka Protocol and highlighted the strong link between illicit diamond trade and conflicts around the world.
Broadly speaking, the KP adds the international community’s stamp of approval to diamonds’ origins and opens the door to global market.
However, KP participants have been quite frequently confronted with the occurrence of fraudulent and counterfeit KP certificates. Trade in rough diamonds is permitted between participants only on the basis of valid certificates. Because of that, KP now urges authorities to examine carefully the certificates.
Recently, industry veteran Martin Rapaport, also one of the founders of the KP, resigned from the World Diamond Council, a diamond industry trade group, in protest over how the industry has turned a blind eye to human rights abuses in Zimbabwe's diamond fields.
But KP is interested in changing this poignant picture. Now that the Chair is with the State of Israel, KP has nominated Abbey Chikane as the KP Monitor for Zimbabwe. He is assessing the situation to address the indications of serious non-compliance with KP minimum requirements identified in July 2009.
One question remains: are the members and participants going to have courage enough to ban Zimbabwe’s stones? A consensus in that is difficult to reach and the KP document says as follows: “Participants are to reach decisions by consensus. In the event that consensus proves to be impossible, the Chair is to conduct consultations”. And to get modifications, consensus is also key:
17. This document may be modified by consensus of the Participants.
So, by that, it is not feasible to make some specific country accountable for not expelling Zimbabwe’s from the KP. The entire process and its members are accountable for being so soft law.
Law and supervision
There can not be any legal consequences for the violation of the recommendations within the scheme. Failure to comply with these procedures may lead to the removal of the non-complying member country. Only that.
If any concerns arise regarding a country's adherence to the scheme, they must be investigated and dealt with by the World Trade Organization.
Supervision of the process is done by the Chair, elected on an annual basis at a plenary meeting. A Working Group on Monitoring (what includes NGOs and the diamond industry) monitors each participant to ensure that it is implementing the scheme correctly. Other working groups report on difficulties in implementation and propose solutions. Also, the State Department coordinates U.S. Government interagency implementation of the Clean Diamond Trade Act of 2003, which helps enormously the Kimberley Process implementation.
One thing is certain: the KP has improved the situation in several countries where blood diamonds were once rife. But I must add one more: besides all those plus points, a reform is imperative.