I went to Brisbane, Australia final month to attend the annual assembly of the Kimberley Process (KP), the worldwide certification scheme for diamonds.
My function was to watch particular classes concerning new blockchain know-how in addition to have interaction lots of our essential companions in the trade. But extra particularly, I needed to achieve a deeper understanding of the place the KP stands as we speak and what its future holds. As an enormous believer in working inside techniques to see their steady enchancment, I used to be hopeful to see a manner ahead and the way I might contribute.
But after three days of panels and speeches, I got here away with little confidence that the KP would be the driver of an moral diamond commerce in 2018… or 2019… or maybe not even in 2020. In quick, the KP has not tailored its mandate since 2003 to mirror the social and environmental impacts that our clients care about. On its present trajectory, the KP shall be much less and fewer related to the fashionable buyer, and the diamond trade will fall additional behind present accountable sourcing practices throughout non-diamond industries. The lack of continuous enchancment on accountable sourcing practices will proceed to be regarding to millennial clients, who will more and more search options if shopper confidence declines.
When the KP was launched as a certification system in January 2003, it was thought-about modern and forward-thinking. The KP’s designers adopted the then-ambitious purpose of eliminating battle diamonds from the worldwide provide chain. To accomplish this purpose, they enlisted governments from many of the nations the place diamonds are mined, manufactured, and consumed.
Though it’s not a treaty-based system, governments in the KP dedicated to adopting and implementing legal guidelines regulating their diamond trades and certifying their tough diamond exports. Civil society teams and diamond trade representatives joined as observers, offering the KP with a various vary of experience and voices.
Fifteen years later, buyer and stakeholder expectations of the KP haven’t been fulfilled. The KP’s definition of eliminating battle diamonds (outlined as tough diamonds used to finance insurgent militias) is just too slender to take care of the complete vary of moral challenges dealing with the diamond commerce in 2018. Although the KP was supposed to assist stop the worldwide sale of illicit diamonds, as a result of they’d be traded exterior the formal and legally-mandated system, KP nations both have been unwilling or unable to cease diamond smuggling. Violence by governments and personal safety companies, corruption, little one labor, gender-based violence, environmental degradation, employee and neighborhood exploitation in the mining areas, illicit financing and different points related to the diamond commerce are all thought-about to be exterior the KP’s mandate.
At Brilliant Earth, we thought that a part of the issue was that there was a cut up in the KP between governments that wish to increase its mission and people against reform. So once I traveled to Australia to attend the plenary session in December, I used to be interested by whether or not I’d encounter an animated dialogue about whether or not the present scope of the KP adequately addressed points dealing with the diamond trade in 2018. Unfortunately, I noticed little signal of it.
The plenary was held in a big conference corridor with all the trimmings of knowledgeable, government-led occasion together with the rows of tables, mints, and headsets for simultaneous interpretation for the viewers. Based on interviews subsequent to this occasion, I used to be knowledgeable that whereas the KP working group conferences present alternatives for debate on essential points, the debates that do happen hover across the interpretation and utility of the present KP mannequin and finish in word-smithing the ultimate communiques to keep away from any inquiries to that mannequin. Instead, that a lot wanted spirited debate concerning the KP’s future has been occurring in the diamond trade press.
During the official proceedings, as could be learn in the revealed notes from the assembly, no reform to the mandate was positioned on the desk or severely thought-about. This is especially disappointing on condition that the KP launched a proper evaluate cycle in 2017 providing a possibility for advancing a reform agenda. Yet after 12 months, the end result of that evaluate was the institution of an Ad-Hoc Committee on Review and Reform to be chaired by India and co-chaired by Angola. So, the 12 months of evaluate resulted in the formation of one other committee being chargeable for that evaluate of reform agenda? This lack of progress shouldn’t be a shock given the official proceedings introduced skilled secretariat was being authorised in December 2017—a secretariat that has (form of) been in place for five years and on the desk for a lot of extra.
Perhaps probably the most thrilling and telling consequence of the plenary was the announcement by IMPACT, a taking part civil society group and co-founder of the KP, that it could withdrawal from the KP. In withdrawing from the KP, IMPACT cited the deterioration of an area for respectful engagement with civil society and frustration with lack of reform. IMPACT’s withdrawal additional demonstrates that others on the plenary session had been reaching the identical conclusion: If broader change is to occur in the diamond commerce in the close to future, the KP won’t be the driving force of it; it’s time to focus assets elsewhere.
The excellent news is that those that care about constructing a extra clear and accountable diamond commerce aren’t ready for the KP to wake from its slumber. For me, probably the most encouraging a part of the plenary was the possibility to have aspect conversations with these authorities officers and trade leaders who’re desirous to transcend the KP’s mandate. They will proceed to do their half to assist the efforts by civil society representatives from African producer nations and European and US nations to enhance the lives and communities linked to diamond mining, manufacturing, and commerce. Together, we could possibly implement new applied sciences to enhance transparency and traceability in the diamond provide chain. By participating in parallel to the KP, we are able to assist and launch initiatives to enhance circumstances in artisanal and small-scale diamond mining.
So what’s going to occur to the KP? Either it can proceed as is and ultimately fizzle into purely a paperwork train, or some exterior improvement or change in circumstances will present the political assist for these in the KP to pressure the KP to evolve. Maybe IMPACT’s withdrawal, the rise of non-KP due diligence efforts, and even the menace from altering shopper conduct, would be the wake-up name that the KP wants to deal with growing shopper expectations about traceability and accountability. With the European Union and India, two of probably the most lively diamond buying and selling and manufacturing facilities, main the KP over the subsequent two years, we hope they may be capable to take this chance to heed that decision and push for actual change. We will assist their efforts in and out of the KP for actual reform to satisfy growing buyer expectations and our personal expectations for good moral enterprise.
Whatever that impetus is, I hope that sometime, the KP can restructure and once more transfer to the entrance of the motion to construct an moral diamond provide chain. In the meantime, firms like ours will proceed to push in our personal route towards extra moral and accountable sourcing practices.
Carrie George is Brilliant Earth’s Director of Responsible Sourcing. This weblog is predicated on her common impressions of the plenary and on info that grew to become public after the assembly. Statements made preserve the confidentiality requested of KP visitors.