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What is the Kimberley Process and How Does it Work?

The Kimberley Process is an international, multi-stakeholder initiative that regulates rough diamond trade. It was formed in May 2000 by a group of African states to prevent the trade in so-called ‘conflict diamonds’ and guarantee their purchases did not finance violence by rebel movements and their allies and what is the kimberley process?

What is the Kimberley Process?

The Kimberly process is a diamond certification scheme created to prevent the trade in “conflict diamonds.” These gemstones are often mined using slave labour and can be hard to distinguish from genuine stones.

The diamond industry has made significant progress toward eliminating conflict diamonds, yet there remain numerous issues such as corruption and smuggling.

Child labour poses health and safety risks as well as environmental concerns. In Sierra Leone, for instance, children are paid 50 cents a day and forced to live in appalling conditions.

The Kimberley Process is a voluntary international certification scheme created to prevent the trade in conflict diamonds. It’s open to all countries who are willing and able to meet its minimal requirements. Members meet twice annually and participate in subcommittees that address specific problems.

How does the Kimberley Process work?

Since 2003, the Kimberley Process has served as a way for countries and diamond companies to guarantee that rough diamonds are not sourced in areas which could contribute to conflict financing. This tripartite system of governments, industry and civil society comes together twice annually for discussions on this important issue.

One essential aspect of the process requires participants to certify that all rough diamonds coming from their country have not been used to fund conflict. This certification should apply throughout each diamond’s entire lifecycle – from its rough state through polishing and selling.

Though the Kimberley Process can provide assurances that a diamond hasn’t contributed to conflict, even highly reputable and certified stones may still be mined in areas where conflict has already existed for some time. Thus, it’s important to remember that even with the best intentions, diamond mining may still take place without consideration of long-term issues.

However, the Kimberley Process is seen as a positive development within the industry. It serves as an inspiring example of what can be accomplished when stakeholders come together to tackle social problems and find effective solutions.

Does the Kimberley Process make a difference?

The Kimberley Process has made great strides towards decreasing the supply of conflict diamonds on the market, but in many countries it still isn’t enough. There are still issues such as worker exploitation, environmental degradation and loss of cultural sites that the process does not address.

To guarantee that diamonds aren’t traded in areas affected by armed conflict, participating countries must agree to certain criteria. They must guarantee that no money from sales of rough diamonds goes towards financing rebel movements or their allies seeking to overthrow a UN-recognized government; and every shipment of rough diamonds must be marked with a ‘conflict-free’ certificate.

Attestation to compliance with minimal requirements is conducted through review visits, annual reports and a series of working groups and committees. Members, civil society observers and representatives from across the industry come together twice annually at intersessional meetings as well as monthly teleconferences to review progress.

Are Kimberley Process diamonds ethical?

In 2002, government leaders, diamond industry representatives and civil society groups came together to address the problem of blood diamonds (rough diamonds used to fund rebel movements). This collaboration resulted in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), launched in November 2003.

This process seeks to regulate the trade in rough diamonds between participating countries and requires participants to abide by stringent requirements. These include setting up national legislation and institutions, enforcing export-import controls, as well as adhering to transparent practices.

However, the process has been met with persistent criticism, particularly regarding its narrow definition of conflict diamonds.


For instance, the process has long refused to expand its definition despite widespread pressure from civil society organisations. Furthermore, it fails to address broader issues like worker exploitation – including child labour and fair pay – as well as failing to ensure that entire populations aren’t uprooted from their homes for mining projects.

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