Since it launched in 2003, there has been one essential question facing the Kimberley Process (KP): Does it work?
This deceptively simple question elicits very strong and often diametrically opposed views. Many in industry and government believe it an unparalleled success, a bold step unlike that taken for any other commodity in the world. Others claim it to be a disappointment, an institution unable and often even unwilling to deal with the toughest issues, especially when dealing with exporting diamonds from conflict or post-conflict zones.
The KP’s greatest past challenges in addressing conflict-affected and illicitly traded diamonds–Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Zimbabwe–can be used to illustrate success or failure depending almost entirely on your starting perspective. Although each case was different and complex in its own way, and space does not permit us to revisit the details of each here, at the height of those crises, stakeholders within the KP held different views about whether, when and how to permit rough diamond exports. They also diverged on what to do when the situations changed.
As the KP prepares to partially ease the nearly three-year-old suspension of rough diamond exports from the Central African Republic (CAR), the KP and broader industry urgently need to rise above past disagreements. Now is the time for constructive and collaborative action in responsibly regulating the diamond trade in this conflict- and corruption-torn country.
The headline is that the KP is set to permit exports from the Berbérati zone, a mining area in the southwestern part of CAR.
This breakthrough follows a carefully negotiated and thoughtful process agreed upon in June 2015, which included multiple levels of review within the KP, the strong engagement of the CAR authorities and a local implementation committee and substantial information and data collection processes. The potential for progress in Berbérati is to the credit of the KP and many local actors and shows the benefit of fully engaged, multi-stakeholder coordination.
Author Brad Brooks-Rubin
Brad Brooks-Rubin is policy director of the Enough Project and its investigative initiative, The Sentry. He was special adviser for conflict diamonds at the U.S. Department of State from 2009 to 2013 and also served at the U.S. Department of the Treasury and GIA. Reach him at brad-at-enoughproject.org.