Conflict diamonds are known as “Blood Diamonds”. These are diamonds originating from countries that are in a state of conflict. In other words, these countries are not able to provide sufficient evidence that the money paid for diamonds they sell will not be used to pay for weapons and further conflict. Therefore, these diamonds are not “conflict free”. This conflict free status is decided in the main by the United Nations (UN), with input from on the ground Non-Government Organisations (NGO’s) like the Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without borders) etc.
Conflict Free Diamonds – The Kimberly Process
The UN has developed a system that is designed to prevent countries judged to be “in conflict” from accessing funds from the sale of diamonds. This system is called “The Kimberly Process“. This is the name of the place in South Africa where diamond producers put the concept on the table. They came together in 2000 out of a desire to provide surety, guaranteeing “Conflict free” production for the diamond trade.
The intention of the Kimberly process is to set minimum compliance standards. Countries that meet these requirements are able to sell conflict free diamonds to the world markets. The hope is that adherence to this process will assist in ending conflict in strife-torn countries by helping to prevent the ongoing abuse of human rights. The thinking behind the process is that it will bring opposing parties together sooner so that they can resolve differences in a more democratic fashion.
When Did the Kimberly Process Come About?
After watching the Hollywood movie “Blood Diamond,” many people became aware of the issue of the sale of diamonds funding conflict. The story was set in Sierra Leone. Long before the movie came out, there was a ban on Sierra Leone trading diamonds through the normal channels. However, under the Kimberley process, Sierra Leone was able to satisfy the UN that it was no longer in a state of conflict and it can now sell conflict free diamonds. Other countries have since been banned. This is the Kimberly process at work.
The diamond industry was addressing the issue of conflict-free diamonds many years before the release of the movie in 2007. The Kimberly process (KP) was brought into existence first with a resolution to do so by the UN in 2000. Negotiations to create the KP were finalised in 2002, some 5 – 7 years before the movie came out.
Consumers want to know that the purchase of a diamond is not going to be part of the financing of conflict and human suffering. As a result both ends of the equation are in agreement in wishing for this outcome.
Ellissi fully endorses and supports this process, as does the Australian Government. We undertake to never deal in or import diamonds from countries that do not meet their human rights obligations to the UN.
Who Is Conflict Free?
The map above shows countries in dark green that currently comply to the “Kimberly Process”. There are 81 countries that have agreed to comply with the process. These countries have passed benchmark regulations that give them the status of being “conflict free”. The pale green shows countries who have applied to be part of the process. There is a decision pending on their status. (Map of compliance as at 2013).
The process is a fluid one that will adapt according to the changing politics of a country or region. It is a fine balance to restrict trade in diamonds to promote resolution of conflict. Countries need to trade and provide income for their people. The UN considers this in its decision making under the process. Diamond trading does provide much-needed money that flows through the local economy.
How Does the Kimberly Process Work?
Countries that are judged to be “in conflict” by the UN are not allowed to sell uncut diamonds into the diamond trade through the regulated supply channels. Once a country has been accepted as being conflict free, a system of customs compliance at import and export is undertaken. Companies or individuals have to provide written proof of the origin of their diamonds. The country of origin must be a country that maintains a clean diamond supply and have agreed not to trade in conflict diamonds. There must be Kimberly compliance at both sides of the transaction.
Most of the jewellery trade agrees to not knowingly deal in any diamonds sourced from countries that do not comply with this process. The vast majority of the trade are strongly in favour of this system. Most jewellers do not want to have anything to do with blood diamonds. Sanctions are in place to exclude any person or company from trade networks if found to be in breach of these values. The Jewellers Association of Australia (JAA) is one such group and Ellissi Jewellery is a member of the JAA.
How Do we Know if a Diamond is Conflict Free?
Numbers suggest that more than 99 % of diamonds traded are now conflict free. It is unlikely that there will ever be 100% success where there are large sums of money at stake. To get it down to less than 1% of diamonds traded is a fantastic result. Few industries can say that they have done as much or as well as the diamond trade in attempting to do the right thing and clean up their industry. Ask yourself this: Is 99 % of the clothing we buy free of issues of human rights? How about the oil we all need? How about the technology we all use?
At Ellissi, we choose to only deal only in diamonds that are conflict free. We would never agree to knowingly sell or seek out “Blood Diamonds” for our stock. We completely agree with and strongly support the efforts put in place by the UN and others to eradicate these diamonds from the supply chain. After all the process is only as strong as the ethical people within it. You can’t tell if a diamond is a conflict free diamond just by looking at it.
Ian Murray. Ellissi