After 4½ sometimes turbulent years manning the State Department’s conflict diamond desk and being involved with the Kimberley Process, Brad Brooks-Rubin is moving on. He talks with JCK about the controversies during his tenure, what he has learned, and the plusses and minuses of the KP:
Any thoughts on the Kimberley Process, after all these years dealing with it?
The thing about the KP is how much and how little it does simultaneously. On the “how much” side, rough diamonds are the only product with a worldwide certification scheme that encompasses everybody. To have a trade that has complete oversight, including in the artisanal mining sector—which is generally excluded because it’s too hard—it does an extraordinary amount.
But it takes people a long time to realize the narrowness of the scope of what the certificate actually means. I don’t think people really get it. It is an entire regulatory system to deal with this one issue. It’s not an outdated issue—the Central African Republic teaches us that. [Martin] Rapaport always uses the analogy of a kosher kitchen. If the KP is a kosher kitchen, it’s like the rabbi is only looking for cheeseburgers. He will let bacon through. He will let other things through. Only if it’s a cheeseburger is he going to stop it. That narrowness is something the KP is going to have to wrestle with.
As things have gotten politicized, we have seen the inability to have an honest conversation about the issues, because of all the conspiracies and hyperbole, and Chaim [Even-Zohar], and everything else. The challenge of the KP is to take this remarkable system that has been constructed and use it to its potential.