The United States, the European Union, and allied governments—traditionally staunch supporters of the Kimberley Process (KP)—have grown frustrated with the certification scheme and are questioning whether to continue devoting their current level of resources to it, says Hans Merket, a researcher for the International Peace Information Service (IPIS) and a member of the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition (KPCSC).
“The thought process has become the Kimberley Process doesn’t work anymore,” he says. “The general sentiment is that they are considering what’s next.”
But don’t expect a KPexit, he says; even the scheme’s harshest governmental critics haven’t advocated for saying goodbye anytime soon. Yet, he senses a shift in their thinking.
In the past, the “Western bloc” that has pushed for KP reforms—generally comprising the United States, the European Union, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom—would routinely express disappointment at the slow pace of progress at the KP. But those countries were also willing to accept its faults, Merket says.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, “they are starting to doubt whether the KP is serving the right purpose,” he adds. “They have wanted to keep it to maintain consumer confidence in diamonds. But the KP seems to be eroding consumer confidence in diamonds.”
He adds that some feel “the industry’s drive toward traceability may make the KP less essential.”
Among the options being considered is enlisting a consultant to plot out different courses of action, he says.
A government official tells JCK that the Kimberley Process is still viewed as an “important baseline.” But this person notes that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine poses a “huge challenge” that the organization needs to address.
While having the KP ban Russian diamonds was always considered a long shot, at [June]’s KP intercessional, held in Kasane, Botswana, the organization couldn’t even agree to discuss the topic.
Besides the Western bloc, the only other countries that voted in favor of raising the subject were Japan and Ukraine. While the KP operates on a model of absolute consensus, in this case, the proposal did not even attract the support of a simple majority.
“They didn’t want [the Russian issue] to be the West versus the rest of the world, but that is what it mainly became,” Merket says.