Conflict diamonds, also known as ‘blood' diamonds, are rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance armed conflicts aimed at undermining legitimate governments.
What is the Kimberley Process?
The Kimberley Process is an international certification scheme that regulates trade in rough diamonds. It aims to prevent the flow of conflict diamonds, while helping to protect legitimate trade in rough diamonds.
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) outlines the rules that govern the trade in rough diamonds. The KPCS has developed a set of minimum requirements that each participant must meet.
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.
What areas of the world are affected by conflict diamonds?
The only current case of rebel forces controlling diamond-producing areas is in Côte d'Ivoire. These conflict diamonds constitute less than 0.1% of the world's production, according to estimates from the Kimberley Process (KP) and the United Nations. The KP is working with the United Nations and neighbouring countries to stop these diamonds entering the legal market.
There is now much greater stability in the other countries that have previously suffered from conflicts funded in part by diamonds: Sierra Leone, Angola, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Of course, fragile situations still prevail, and no one should make the mistake of losing interest just because the guns are silent.
The KP means that there is now the potential for the wealth created by diamonds to contribute to peace and prosperity in these countries, rather than conflict. There have been some promising results – 2006 was the DRC's best year for diamond exports since the stones were discovered 100 years ago. In Sierra Leone, legal exports have increased 100-fold since the end of the war in 2002, bringing benefits for the estimated 10% of the population who depend on the diamond industry.
How do I know I am not buying a conflict diamond?
Although the Kimberley Process does not certify individual jewellers, reputable businesses should only buy from suppliers that can guarantee that their diamonds are conflict-free.