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Table of Contents
History of the DRC:
What is Diamond Mining?
What is Conflict Diamond Mining?
How Diamonds are Linked to War?
Events leading up to the creation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme
Specifics of the Kimberley Process:
Criticisms of the KPCS:
Success of KPCS:
Conflict Diamond mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the effects of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme
Abstract/Purpose: This paper is intended to trace the evolution of conflict diamond mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the success of international effort by means of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme to eliminate conflict by means of civil war, war, terrorism or insurgency. By evaluating the Kimberley Process and synthesizing the views of different authors, organizations and critics, I determine whether or not the process has accomplished what it set out to do and if it should be kept. Diamond mining is part of the cycle of natural resource exploitation that plagues the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as many other parts of Africa, for decades in diamonds and centuries in human labor and other resources. The diamond issue was lowly ranked on the international radar for decades and became a clear priority during several civil wars in Africa in the 1990s. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme is an international effort that was put in place to eliminate conflict diamonds from being sold and financing war, insurgent groups or terrorism.
Keywords: conflict diamonds, conflict diamond mining, resource exploitation, Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, Global Witness, corruption, diamond industry, civil war, human rights abuses
In the late 1800s diamonds were found in countries in Africa like the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the world came to realize how rich the plethora of natural resources was in the area. Diamonds became “a girl’s best friend” in the 1940s in America when the gem became the most popular stone for engagement rings and about 50 years after this phenomenon struck, diamonds would become “war’s best friend”1 in parts of Africa. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of natural resources and as a result was the victim of one of the most brutal colonization’s in history. In 1960, the Democratic Republic of the Congo was given independence from Belgium and was greatly unprepared for it. The legacy of the colonization has yet to be erased. Professor of Economics at Oxford and director of the Development Research Group for the World Bank, Sir Paul Collier coined the term ‘resource curse.’ This term means that where there is a natural resource abundant in a certain country, those countries tend to grow slower than resource scarce countries. A prime example of a country plagued by the resource curse would be the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its diamond mining sector. Despite criticisms from many different sources across the globe, in this paper I will argue that the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme has had and continues to have a positive effect on eliminating conflict diamonds by accomplishing the specific goals it originally outlined. The process has also done well in cleaning up the diamond trading sector, by encouraging clean, legal and fair business. I will also point out how the diamond mining industry as a whole has not helped many African countries develop and has created uphill battle that has not been easy to subdue.
History of the DRC:
The territory known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo has gone through many name changes over the past few centuries, it was once a free state and then globalization by means of world trade reaped the Congo of its independence. It is now once again a free state, but has yet to fully find a common ground of peace. Undergoing a population cleanse through the Atlantic slave trade and a growth stint during an oppressive Belgian colonization, the Congo, formerly the Belgian Congo and now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has danced along the line of extinction but has ultimately endured. The tumultuous history of the Congo has outlined and influenced the country’s social, political, ethnic and economic make up. In the Congo, there is a pandemic cycle of violence that is considered normal and is rampant. The Congo’s war torn state and diverse societal make up stem from historical and economic processes, which were written with a common thread of exploitation. The Congo is one of the richest countries in Africa, in terms of natural resources and has so much potential. The country has and continues to experience much exploitation, tension and corruption because of this apparent resource curse.
The land of the Congo was and remains to be one of the wealthiest in natural resources in the world. During Belgian colonization, the country’s trade was comprised of mainly rubber and ivory but later also included copper, diamonds and coltan. During Belgian King Leopold’s rule, rubber became a global commodity and the price for it tripled. The value of rubber increased as a result of the invention of the pneumatic tire in 1888, a large portion of the rubber sold to global manufacturing companies was sourced from the Congo. At this time, rubber was found in plethora in areas of the Congo and became a national project that only benefitted the King. Much of the country worked to gather rubber, workers were paid little to nothing and in order to yield a sizeable profit and “officials were allowed to use all forms of cruelty to meet production requirements. Terrible methods of agony and torture were used,”2 this is an example of modern day slavery. Workers had no other choice; most of the population that did not partake in the rubber business had no other occupation or income, so working on rubber production was one of the only ways to make a living. The workers barely made enough in their wages to support their families; they had no share in the profit from the rubber and were completely excluded from the economy. The working population toiled away to receive a small wage and many of them “died of famine, exhaustion, diseases and crude violence, including the large-scale cutting of hands (a punishment for not fulfilling quotas, which was also influenced by economic efficiency, because it saved bullets).”3 In summation, the rule of Belgian King Leopold I in the Congo was one of the most exploitive of any colonization in history; he was forced to give up his rule at the beginning of the 20th century, prior to World War I. At this time, Leopold I was old in age and close to death and had amassed a fortune of over 1 billion dollars during his reign in the Congo.
Governance of the Congo was taken by the Belgian Congress, who remained sovereign until 1960 when the country was granted independence. In the years between the end of Leopold’s rule and Congolese independence, Belgium also benefitted greatly from the natural resources in the Congo that stimulated the economy even further than the rubber business did. During the period of sovereignty of Belgium in the Congo, no political activity on the part of the Congolese was allowed4. Armed forces were sent to subdue any hint of an uprising. After the Second World War, there was a global coalition to decolonize, so the Congo was granted independence from Belgium. Even after independence, the legacy of Belgium still remained as a Belgian installed ruler, Mobutu was put in power. The Congo was greatly unprepared for independence. The control and governance of the diamond mining sector in the DRC is a clear example of the lack of preparation. The mining sector was controlled by the Belgian installed ruler/dictator Mobutu until he was overthrown by rebel and outside forces during the First Civil War. The mining sector struggled and was fraught with corruption and peril like the rest of the DRC and the rest of Africa.
What is Diamond Mining?
The diamond mining business is rich in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the area has an estimated $24 trillion in untapped natural resources5 and is the center of the world’s diamond source. Many Congolese are employed in this sector, which is unregulated and make a living off of what they extract. The Congo was once a farming intensive region and in the last 50 years that has changed, mining is now the dominant employment in the area which has resulted in food shortages and insecurity. Mining is a dangerous and unstable occupation. Diamonds are found in infant form in mines or the ground of areas rich in natural resources like the DRC, the country is now pockmarked with mines as the industry has become centered in Africa. The raw materials found by Congolese are not what we see in jewelry stores, the diamonds look more like black rocks and are not worth much until polished and cut. The mines are hazardous and unsafe and the methods in which the workers excavate the rare gems are tiresome and not routine. There is no organization of the mining, each man, woman or child is working for themselves. The miners must provide their own equipment as well, so “their tools are simple -- an old pick, a simple rope, a torn sack. They don't have shoes, gloves, hard hats or flashlights”6 resulting in many injuries, illnesses or death. Most African countries partake in artisanal mining and a very small portion participates in industrial mining. Artisanal mining takes place in countries with alluvial diamonds which are diamonds washed by rivers into a large area. Millions of artisanal miners dig in African countries and sell their diamonds for less than 1/5th of its potential price.7 The income is inconsistent, some days a miner will find nothing and other days they will find a small fortune. The gems that are found in the DRC cannot be manufactured there, so the raw materials are sold elsewhere at a microscopic price compared to what the gems are sold for on the market after polishing. The miners are forced to sell the raw materials to virtually anyone with money who is willing to buy, they have no idea where the diamonds go because the money is desperately needed. Diamond mining is an occupation that many Congolese men, women and children participate in hoping to find a way out of poverty.
What is Conflict Diamond Mining?
The Congo has been plagued by natural resource exploitation for as long as industry has existed- “as long as there has been a diamond industry, diamond mining has been beset by violence, smuggling, worker exploitation and environmental degradation.”8 Horrible abuses have taken place for a long time in the diamond mining sector, in mines run by large companies as well as small artisanal miners who are trying to feed their families and lift themselves out of poverty. In the 1990s the diamond mining industry confronted a consumer backlash as the world came to realize that the wars in Africa were being funded and fueled by diamonds. Blood stained diamonds were sold on the international markets, so virtually the whole world was inadvertently funding the insurgent groups and the wars. The term ‘conflict diamonds’ is a broad one, in terms of the KPCS it means that blood has been shed for the sale of the diamond in that the diamonds directly finance conflict but human rights organizations also include child labor, the lack of regulation and health hazards associated with the industry in the definition. Diamonds originating from countries in Africa have been fueling and directly funding wars that have destroyed and displaced millions and at the same time wrecking the economy. The diamond industry is large and worldwide, many countries around the world have interests at stake in the countries that produce and export diamonds. Despite this, diamonds have failed to contribute to positive development in most African countries and the benefits of the industry are not allocated appropriately. The laborers who work tirelessly in the mines live on less than 1-2 US dollars per day and the communities live in dire poverty.
How Diamonds are Linked to War?
Many countries in Africa are rich in mineral wealth, specifically diamonds. Despite that fact, the wealth is not allocated proportionally. Much of the population residing in these countries live in extreme poverty and are plagued by constant conflict. These countries are recognized by international communities as “failed states” and reside at the bottom of the human development indices. Examples of countries that have been plagued by a civil conflict fueled by diamonds are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola and Sierra Leone. All of these countries rank very poorly on international development lists. For example, The Human Development Index “measures the average achievement in a country in three basic dimensions of human development; life expectancy at birth, Adult literacy and standard of living.” The Corruption Perception Index ranks more than 150 countries by their perceived levels of corruption. A high number represents the worse perception of corruption. The Failed State Index assesses violent internal conflicts and measures the impact of mitigating strategies.9 The Democratic Republic of the Congo ranks the worst overall on all of those lists and is the 2nd most failed state in the world in 2006. These three indexes depict a dire situation in the DRC, Sierra Leone and Angola also share similar patterns in development according to these evaluations. These countries are very far behind in development, and that is very clear, each of them has suffered from internal rifts like civil war and a history of unstable governance. The indexes are a testament to the difficulties that lie in each country, this makes implementing the Kimberley Process even more difficult. These sources are a reliable way of depicting the development situation in each country, often attention is diverted to certain areas that are experiencing dramatic success but this does not mean that the entire country is relishing in the same success. These rankings teach us not to forget about the big picture and that despite small success stories, the majority of the population in these African countries is behind in development. Despite the rankings in each index these countries have seen some improvements from the relationship with the KPCS, for example unemployment and GDP imports.
The Cold War was not only a difficult time for America and Russia but for Africa too. Many countries were caught in the middle and as a result the dynamics of these countries was altered. The Democratic Republic of the Congo was a vital smuggling route for the rebel group National Union for the Total Independence in Angola (UNITA) during the Cold War. Not only was the DRC a critical stop in the smuggling route but it was a source of conflict diamonds as well. Rebel groups along with their Rwandan and Ugandan allies held one of the most important diamond producing regions in the DRC, the high value stones originating from this province went directly into the hands of the rebel groups. This is how advancements and small wins were made during war, by conquering or controlling a diamond mine, the group gains funds and power. Before the year 2000, over 75% of all diamonds produced in the DRC were smuggled out of the country, particularly to Angola.10 This number is very high, but normal for war time in Africa. Most of the diamond exports at the time were directly sold to finance rebel movements and thus were conflict diamonds. The diamonds emanating from the DRC were fueling and financing UNITA which resulted in the Angolan Civil War.
The Congo is still recovering from the widespread devastation that their Civil Wars left behind, conflict still exists in the east and the country also continues to be plagued by political instability. The First Civil war began in 1996 and bled into the Second which ended in 2003. The wars were a clash of rebel resistance and attempts to overthrow the Belgian installed Congolese government which was corrupt and circumventing all of the diamond profits. Rebel groups were comprised of groups from all parts of the Congo as well as neighboring countries. The outside rebel groups that were supported by neighboring countries competed for resource rich diamond areas in the north-east”11 region of the Congo. In the Congolese wars specific diamond mines were seized and controlled by rebel groups, in doing this the group gained a leg up on the enemy. Power, labor and money were gained by controlling a diamond mine. All of the profits that were being sold on a market went directly into the hands of that rebel group.
Decades of corruption and impunity in the mining sector has left the population of the Congo very poor. Trade has done little to solve this issue as diggers sell their diamonds for less than a quarter of its worth. These diggers are systematically cheated and often they are cheated even further by middle men or exporters. The center of diamond mining in the DRC is located in the town of Mbuji Mayi. This town has sent out billions of dollars’ worth of diamonds that have travelled all across the globe. Despite the towns vast mineral wealth it remains very poor, there are only a few paved roads and the town lacks adequate water supply or electricity. Over a million men, women and children work in the mines in the DRC and many earn less than 1 US dollar a day. The DRC ranks 167th on the Human Development Index and ranks equally as high on the Corruption Perception Index. There has always been a struggle for nationalism in the DRC and the government or authority has yet to prove helpful to its people. Human rights abuses are still rampant in the DRC, associated with the Corruption Perception Index it is reported that there are “widespread killings by security forces; torture and abuse, including rape, of persons by security forces; armed groups operating outside of government control.”12 The DRC also ranks high on the Failed States Index, which takes into account the political situation as well as human rights abuses.
The DRC was tightly involved and invested in the Angolan Civil War. The Civil War began in 1956 with a struggle between the Portuguese colonists and the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (NFLA). A third group joined in the UNITA and entered into conflict with the three original groups. The armed struggle adapted ethnic and regional characteristics as well as an ideological split.13 In 1975, the Portuguese decolonized and left the MPLA in charge and Angola’s newly found independence was immediately followed by civil war. The Cold War was another factor that altered the dynamics between the two warring groups. The Soviet Union backed the Angolan government which influenced the United States along with South Africa to attempt to destabilize Angola and over throw its Soviet ties. The United States took the side of UNITA which financed its war efforts to overthrow the MPLA by illicit diamond trading and money laundering. In the “1990’s diamond revenues had allowed UNITA to purchase Bulgarian and Ukrainian made heavy weaponry, which enabled them to move away from guerrilla tactics and to fight conventional war against government forces in and around Angolan cities.”14 Pressure was added once the Cold War ended on Angola to end the civil war, in 1994 a peace agreement was reached but only lasted four years, because it did not address the issue of diamond financing. The United Nations Security Council came down on UNITA when peace was disrupted in 1998 by imposing an embargo on diamond trade. UNITA had been involved in illicit trade in diamonds for the past four decades when the embargo was imposed. Between “1992 and 2001 UNITA headed the largest and most organized illegal diamond trafficking operation in world history. By 1997 it earned 3.7$ billion”15 and used that money to finance the war against MPLA. At the end of the civil war over 500,000 lives were lost, thousands suffered maiming by landmines and over 70% of the diamond production was run by UNITA16. It was at this time that several NGOS exposed the role of diamonds in funding civil wars and threatened the industry which has been shrouded in secrecy until then. Though these wars were gruesome and devastating, the international community may not have realized the existence of conflict diamonds and criminal connections without them.
Like the DRC, Angola also remains one of the poorest countries and ranks high on the Human Development Index. Most Angolan citizens live on less than 2$ a day and half of the nation’s children are malnourished. Governance is poor and corrupt which has difficulty providing basic services to the population and human rights abuses are also rampant by formal and informal security forces. Also ranking high on the Corruption Perception Index, “unlawful killings, disappearances, torture and beatings” at the hand of some authority figure are common in Angola. The diamond sector has evolved in Angola, as well as the level of corruption within it. Though still more prevalent than in other countries, corruption within the diamond sector has been lessened in Angola with the help of the incentive based KPCS.
The civil war in Sierra Leone is also another example of how conflict diamond trade is linked to war. Professors J.Anyu Ndumbe and Babalola Cole authors of the article The Illicit Diamond Trade, Civil Conflicts and Terrorism write that “the recent history of Sierra Leone can be examined through the prism of a diamond.” In this country, diamond trade began in the 1930s and can be linked to nearly all the development the country has had since then. Diamond production started at 1 million carats in 1937 and increased to 55 million carats in 1998, in Sierra Leone diamonds have been closely linked to politics and this link resulted in the decade long civil war beginning in 1991. In the 1970s, Siaka Stevens became prime minister of Sierra Leone and turned diamonds into a political problem or rather a political agenda, which encouraged illegal mining. He nationalized De Beer’s operation by creating the National Diamond Mining Company which also nationalized the Sierra Leone Selection Trust, both of which were run by the prime minister and a trusted friend who was in the diamond business, Jamil Mohammed. The successive prime minister continued to intertwine politics with the diamond mining industry, and entrusted greater control of the governance to the same self-interested diamond business man, Mohammed. This climate encouraged illicit trade and management that led to an enormous drop in production level. In 1970, legal exports dropped from 2 million carats to about 595,000 in 1980 and 48,000 in 1988.17 During this period of decline and the apparent merger of politics and personal interests, the resources were divided among party loyalists rather than allocated proportionally to the nation as a whole. The period from 1970-1990 was characterized by economic decay and inefficiency which resulted in several coups d’état and finally a bloody civil war lasting for over a decade.
The war lasted from 1991 to 2002, during this time over 500,000 lives were lost. Civilians suffered widespread killings and abuses including mutilation, torture, rape and abduction. The rebel group Revolutionary United Front was mining up to 125$ million in diamonds annually to fund their retaliation efforts. The RUF was aided by Liberia and its president, Charles Taylor who desired to “pillage diamonds from Sierra Leone in order to fund his grand scheme of consolidating his power in the West African region.”18 Liberia played a large role in the removal of Sierra Leone’s president and the civil war, the country exchanged its support to topple the government of Sierra Leone for diamonds. The RUF was trained and mentored by Liberia. At the height of the war, the RUF was provided with an outlet to sell illicit diamonds in exchange for illegal arms. In 2000, the United Nations Security council imposed diamond sanctions which were lifted three years later with help from the KPCS.
The civil war formally ended in 2002 with the removal of the president, since then attempts have been made to improve management and to address widespread corruption within the diamond industry. Sierra Leone has made a lot of progress since the war ended, official “diamond exports have increased to over US $140 million in 2005 and attempts are being made to return a percentage of export tax to diamond mining communities.”19 Despite this progress, Sierra Leone started off pretty far behind in terms of development and still remains very low in the UN Human Development Index. Sierra Leone ranks 176 out of 177 on the Human Development Index, this means that it is the second least developed country in the entire world. The country also ranks high on the Corruption Perceptions Index, 142 out of 163 despite the attempts to address widespread corruption the decades of politically concentrated accumulation of wealth have yet to be washed away and the reach of corrupt officials is still strong. Sierra Leone also ranks high on the Failed States Index, 17th out of 146. Reports on the human rights situation include “abuses by security forces, including rape and use of excessive force with detainees including juveniles.”20
Like the DRC and Angola, artisanal mining is the form of mining that takes place in Sierra Leone. Where the “diggers here sell their diamonds for as little as 1/5th of the worth of the diamond when it finally leaves the country.”21 The diggers are cheated out of their profits by middlemen, traders and exporters who regularly cheat these diggers in a market that is rigged so it is neither free nor fair. The diamond mining industry has yet to allocate wealth to the hardest workers in the industry, the miners. In the “Kono district diamonds have been mined there for over 70 years, there is no electricity, the roads are in despair and homes that were destroyed by the fighting” from the previous decade have yet to be repaired. Over 100,000 men and children work as diamond miners in Sierra Leone.22
Before the year 2000, both the DRC and Angola had record high unemployment rates. According to (a reliable trade economics website with its information supplied by the World Bank) Trading Economics, the DRC reached a record high of 67% unemployment in 2000. The KPCS has seemed to have an effect on this statistic because in 2006 the rate bounced down to a low of 45% and now remains around 50% in the DRC. In Angola, unemployment reached 68% in 2000 and now remains at a steady 47%. The levels of employment in Sierra Leone have not been reported in the last decade, but would likely show similar improvement. The lack of civil war in both Angola and Sierra Leone, though the reason not explicitly clear, can be attributed to the success of the Kimberley Process as well as the decline in unemployment across nearly all countries partaking in the diamond mining business in Africa.
Events leading up to the creation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme
The events leading up to the creation of the Kimberley Process were the two civil wars in Sierra Leone and Angola and the reaction of the British NGO the Global Witness. The Global Witness, along with several other NGOs, published several reports on conflict diamonds and their relationship to these two civil wars. It was this act that rallied other NGOs, international governing bodies and countries to join together and form the KPCS as a solution. The Global Witness organization is a London based NGO that was part of the inspiration for the movie “Blood Diamond,” the goal of the movie was to spread international awareness of the issue which mirrors the goal of Global Witness.
The KPCS arose as a result of many red flags that were raised by human rights organizations, NGOS, the UN and others to the events leading up to and during the civil wars in both Angola and Sierra Leone. Global Witness was the leading NGO that exposed the problem in 1998, the organization was a founding father in establishing the Kimberley Process. In October 1999, four European human rights groups, including Global Witness, launched a campaign called the “Fatal Transactions Campaign.” The goal of the campaign was to raise consumer awareness about how revenue from diamond sales has been fueling wars that have been ravaging parts of Africa for example in Sierra Leone, Angola and Liberia among others.23 This is how the rest of the world came to realize what was going on with diamonds in Africa.
As the entire world came to realize that by purchasing diamonds originally mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as most other parts of Africa, that they were inadvertently funding the civil wars, insurgency, terrorism and certain warlords. The terms “blood diamonds" and "conflict gems" both refer to the minerals that were providing the financial support for Africa's "civil wars" and "ethnic conflicts". These minerals were flooding the market and, with the consciousness-raising of various human-rights organizations, diamond sales became scrutinized even by the fiancées and their suitors who contemplated consummating their union with the proverbial diamond engagement ring.”24
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was introduced as a solution and a method of conflict prevention to this globalized phenomenon. Kimberley is a small city located in South Africa, it was the initial meeting place for the Kimberley Process, and this is where the name originates.
The goal of Global Witness is to expose discreet linkages between the demand for natural resource and corruption, militarized conflict and environmental degradation. For the past three decades the organization has been campaigning for full transparency in the mining, logging, oil and gas sectors. The Global Witness wants the citizens who actually own and live on the land where these resources are extracted to benefit fairly. The group believes that the only way to protect the people’s rights to land, work and their fair share of national wealth is to achieve total transparency in the resources sector and stopping resource related corruption.25 The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution in 2000 which supported the creation of the process, every year since then the General Assembly has renewed their support for the KPCS. The United Nations published several reports in 2000, one in particular on Angola observed that diamonds were providing the costs of Africa’s civil wars specifically the civil war in Angola26 thus further illuminating the link between diamonds and war.
Specifics of the Kimberley Process:
Kimberley Process is a global voluntary regulatory system that offers membership to countries that agree to participate. The process is designed to track the life of rough diamonds and prevent the gems originating from conflicted zones to enter into legitimate world markets. It is an industry based certification scheme that is wrapped in an export/import regime which is implemented through domestic legislation in member states.27 The process proposes extensive requirements on its members. It expects them to certify shipments of rough diamonds as ‘conflict free’ and to prevent conflict diamonds from entering trade routes. Participants can only legally trade with other participants who have also met the minimum requirements. These requirements are nonnegotiable and the member states must commit to transparency with all statistical information. Each international shipment of rough diamonds must be accompanied by a KP certificate certifying that they are indeed conflict free.28
According to the KPCS, before rough diamonds are shipped they must be packaged together with a forgery-resistant certificate documenting that the origin of the parcel is not a conflicted zone. Then the members devise a system of warranties which tracks the diamonds packages and who handles them. Each state is required to ensure that incoming and outgoing diamonds are secured in sealed containers and accompanied by a proper certificate. The packages cannot originate from states that are not members of the process or from a rebel group or entity that seeks to overthrow any United Nations recognized government. In addition, it is expected that member states criminalize conflict diamond trading and implement it into national legislation.29 Member states are also required to create a control system to attempt to eliminate conflict diamonds from being sold internally. Every year, each country is required to report data on production levels, trade and problems with implementation that are posted on the KPCS website for the entire world to see. Initially over 75 countries are members and involved in all aspects of global diamond production, these countries are involved in producing, manufacturing or trading of diamonds. Now, including the DRC, Sierra Leona and Angola, the number of countries has grown to 81.
Criticisms of the KPCS:
Though the life span of the Kimberley Process has been quite short, the Process has had many successes since its inception. Its impact can be seen through the level of trade in legitimate diamonds as well as on conflict, which have both slowly started to acclimate to the goal of the process. There has been an overwhelming increase in the level of legitimate diamonds that are traded in international markets, the KPCS is credited for this increase. The KPCS website cites that 99% of the diamonds traded today around the world are conflict free.30 It is a difficult task to pin point these numbers but before the KPCS it is estimated that about 15% of total world trade was made up of illegal conflict diamonds. The 1% difference means that the process has not completely eliminated conflict diamond sale. It can be accounted for in countries like the Ivory Coast or Cote d’Ivoire in which all legal diamond sales have been curtailed due to a state of conflict because rebel groups have found a way to smuggle the minerals out of the country. Other countries have been kicked out of the KPCS or temporarily cut off due to being caught smuggling or exploiting loopholes in the system. Even the DRC was stripped of its membership title for a few years due to its failure to abide by all the guidelines and regulations of the KP. Smuggling is reported to still occur in eastern DRC where fighting still lingers. In the article entitled “A Diamond Scheme is Forever Lost” the author Andrew Winetroub writes that one of the KP’s great successes is the extending of membership to countries encompassing 99.8 percent of the global production of rough diamonds. This means that of all the diamonds sold on the market worldwide, only 0.2% is sold no non KPCS members and the rest are sold legally. Again, that 0.2% means that the process is not perfect but working to lessen that percentage year by year.
Virginia Haufler, professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland and author of the article “The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme: An innovation in Global Governance and Conflict Prevention” writes about both the positive and negatives of the KPCS. She writes that the KPCS could have (and will eventually) an impact on the illegal trade because the process was so broad and it included all actors in the process, including importing and exporting states and major industry players. By combining these two facets, the legitimate diamond market is strengthened because it provides incentives for the major players to abide by the rules of the process. These players in turn want to participate in the process and become invested in it, so they want to ensure that it functions well. Haufler cites the main weaknesses of the KPCS are the presence of spoilers, which are weak governments that cannot or will not enforce the process and that smugglers are able to exploit loopholes in the system. Overall conflict in Africa has declined whether it is a result of the KPCS or a wave of democracy, it is hard to determine but many sources credit the KP with this improvement. Many states still suffer from weak governance and continue to resist outside forces making the system of tracking diamonds difficult if not impossible. Despite the great lengths that the KPCS has gone to in attempt to make their certificates unable to be replicated, cheating and falsifying these certificates is widespread among industry and government officials. Some of these countries are not as invested in the process as others, and can be easily persuaded to violate it. Among states with a weak regime it is common that they lack the willingness to provide effective oversight within their own countries as well as high levels of corruption and an erratic commitment to the KPCS. The term ‘weak regime’ is comprised of an instable or corrupt government. State officials are bribed into falsifying KPCS certificates or into turning a blind eye on the minerals laundered through their districts and thus their interests are strayed from the overall wellbeing of the diamond trade. Several countries have voiced their unwillingness or demonstrated their inability to control the trade within their borders, examples of these countries are the DRC, Angola and Cote d’Ivoire. Smugglers and corrupt officials within a KPCS member state can free ride and benefit immensely from the process at the cost of many. The KPCS is an innovative attempt to end conflict and its funding. It speaks to humanitarian norms which appeal to a collaborative global outcry but at the same time the process expects that corporations should behave responsibly.31 The KPCS becomes “reliant on the good faith of participating countries without clear and strict standards and the process is only as strong as the will of the participants to execute it.”32 Haulfer asserts that if there were stricter and more specific rules about diamond sale then it would be harder for these crooked leaders to escape accountability.
An infamous remark from the chairman of the African Diamond Council brought attention and further criticism worldwide in regards to the KPCS. In April 2010, Chairman Andre Action Diakite Jackson made a statement from the African Diamond Council Headquarters in Luanda, Angola. Jackson says that “the system has failed to thwart trading of diamonds mined as a result of human suffering and although Zimbabwe’s current dealings and previous defiance may frustrate many of their global critics, the country has led the attack in exposing the vulnerability of the KP.”33 His point is similar to that of the Global Witness, which also brings the events in Zimbabwe into the argument. Global Witness was the first organization to withdraw from the Kimberley Process in 2011, citing three reasons for their resignation. The reasons are: that the definition of “conflict diamonds” is too narrow, that the KPCS has refused to broaden the definition and that the process only applies to rough diamonds.
The Global Witness notes that despite significant progress, the problem has still not gone away. The Global Witness uses the term ‘limitations of the KPCS’ when elaborating on the reasons for resignation. The Kimberley Process’ definition of conflict diamonds states that they are ‘rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments’. Global Witness argues that this definition is too broad and it fails to address a wider range of human rights abuses which are also prevalent in the mining sector. Global Witness fails to explicitly identify the human rights concerns that are not being addressed by the Kimberley Process, but Brilliant Earth, a source much like the Global Witness that reports on natural resource management in developing countries, elaborates on these concerns and writes that “what this means is that the Kimberley Process grants conflict free certification to large numbers of diamonds tainted by bloodshed, child labor, sexual violence, and other injustices—all problems that remain very much a part of diamond mining today.”34 Furthermore, Global Witness argues that the KPCS is not motivated to address these risks such as those documented in Zimbabwe. Global Witness accuses the Kimberley Process of persistently refusing to broaden its definition of conflict diamonds and notes that the KPCS has been pressured by a variety of civil organizations to do so. Global Witness also identifies enforcement as a persisting issue in the short life time of the KPCS, an example to back up this point is the situation in the Central African Republic. In the 2013 CAR, diamonds sourced from areas under control of armed groups were able to reach international markets despite the fact that was already an embargo on diamonds originating from there. The last part of the reasons culminating in the resignation of Global Witness from the KPCS is that the process only applies to rough diamonds. This excludes diamonds that are cut and polished, once the diamonds enter a manufacturer they are out of the reach of the KPCS. The Global Witness organization feels that the KPCS has yet to deliver its original commitment of delivering a meaningful and independently verifiable system of warranties that is free of loopholes.35 In short, according to the Kimberley Process if the diamond does not fund a rebel group then it is not considered a conflict diamond.
Success of KPCS:
In the past decade, conflict diamond sales have dropped significantly. There are two possible reasons, one being the effect of the KPCS and the other simply being the existence of peace. It is clear that a spike in conflict diamond sale happens during or leading up to a war which is fueled, funded and prolonged by diamonds. The Kimberley Process was devised as a reaction to this phenomenon and might not have happened without the attention from the international community that fell on the diamond fueled African civil wars. Though the KPCS was determined to end conflict diamond sale, post conflict objectives and peacebuilding were not in the original plan36. Despite this, countries like Angola and Sierra Leona have remained free of civil war since the inception of the KPCS. Now estimates of conflict diamond sale on the global market vary somewhere between 1 and 15% according to different sources,37 this is an enormous decline from the 75% high that was seen emanating from the DRC during the Angolan and Congolese Civil Wars. Also in all of these countries, there was a noticeable increase in exports with the initial implementation of the KPCS and in the years since then, the increase was roughly over 1 million carats each year. This is because the KPCS makes it more difficult and costly to trade conflict diamonds, there are also repercussions associated with being caught violating it. For example, parcels that lack a KP certificate may be seized and exporters or importers may be subject to fines and/or criminal charges. These circumstances are very likely, it is hard to find non KPCS buyers because over 99% of all producing or trading countries are members of the KPCS.
Many countries have benefitted from the technical aspects that the Kimberley Process provides, two examples would be Angola and Sierra Leone. These two countries have been members for a long time and even established their own certificates of origin three years before the KPCS began operating. Once the wars ended in both countries, they excluded former combatants from participating in the entrustment of natural resources. Members of the process have provided logistical assistance and technical knowledge to both the countries, this not only strengthened their capacity to increase production revenue but also enabled the countries to implement safeguards designed to curb the conflict diamond threat. In Sierra Leone, the country’s governance has improved since it became associated with the KP. At the request of the KP, civil servants in the Ministry of Mineral Resources have received specialized training in areas like diamond valuation, governance logistics and the development and use of certain databases. Sierra Leone has been one of the more active members in the KP out of the production countries and as a result of the lack of resistance; the country has seen improvements in transparency as well as logistical and technical improvements.
The presence of spoilers amongst members does clearly hold the entire process back. To counter Virginia Haufler’s argument, many countries that were once spoilers have become more faithful to the process, for example Angola. In its infant years, Angola was more of an observer than an active participant in the KPCS and responded to criticism of its weaknesses with much resistance. Recently, Angola has been working on its membership by participating in various groups and committees. The Angolan delegation originally had a different attitude towards improvements than others; the country thinks thought that they knew best. Despite this, in recent years Angola’s membership with the KP has led to improvements in governance but continues to lag behind on improvement on transparency in the diamond sector like many other countries. The Angolan government has even voiced their desire to chair the process and continue to become a more active member in the future of the process,38 this is a big change from the beginning of the relationship between the KPCS and Angola.
The narrow definition that the Global Witness so vehemently opposes is one of the reasons why the KPCS has been so successful. If the process were to broaden the definition of conflict diamonds, then the goal of eliminating diamond fueled war and conflict would be widened and flooded with human rights abuses making the list of objectives too insurmountable to soothe in one clean sweep. The KPCS set out its original list of goals that were narrow but have proven effective. I would prescribe that an entirely different process be created to address outlying issues that the Global Witness remains insistent upon, the sole focus of this process would be human rights. I would also prescribe that the KPCS keep its narrow definition, but make the process stricter. By punishing countries that violate the process and providing incentives to abide by it, the process encourages countries to invest in fair business to avoid finding ways to exploit it. The life span of the KPCS has not yet reached two decades, so in time its reach will spread to human rights and appropriate allocation of diamond revenue. Until then, the process should continue to target the 1% of conflict diamonds that are still sold as well as the 0.2% of buyers that are non-members. Also, the artisanal mining sector should be shifted to a more industrial sector and take after the success of a country like Botswana.
Among the countries where diamond mining has not benefitted the population, Botswana is an exception. The country relies heavily on diamond revenue, though there are still developmental challenges and much of the population are also impoverished, the diamond mining sector here is different and more beneficial than in other countries. Andrew J. Grant, author of the article entitled The Kimberley Process Reflections at Ten writes that
“When diamonds were discovered in 1967, there were less than 5 kilometres of tarred roads and only three secondary schools in Botswana. Since then the economy has grown at more than 7% a year, allowing the country to move from its ranking as one of the poorest in the world to a position as a middle-income country, and making it the best global economic performer over that period.”39
In Botswana, the mining sector only accounts for about 4% of total employment and much of the population is unemployed. Botswana benefits more from diamond mining than any other African country and the reason for this is that Botswana’s diamond mining sector is industrial as opposed to artisanal. The diamonds in Botswana are concentrated in a single location and are somewhat easy to secure, so these diamonds are mined on an industrial scale which is an anomaly for mining countries in Africa. An industrial form of mining means that the works get paid decently and the diamonds are sold by the industry at a higher or fairer cost, it is harder to manipulate this diamond producing industry than it is for middlemen to cheat the diggers themselves. The miners benefit from the industry more so in Botswana than in any other diamond mining country in Africa. But due to the fact that the sector only accounts for a small percentage of the country’s total employment, the burden of widespread poverty is not alleviated. Compared to other African countries, Botswana has been considered a success story and improvements in literacy and secondary school enrollment support that claim. Therefore, the diamond mining sector in Botswana should be an example or model for the rest of the diamond mining countries to abide by.
The KPCS has been fighting an uphill battle against conflict diamond mining, it is a hard sector to clean up and many of the members have proved difficult to cooperate with. It is a challenge but the process has had a great impact and continues to improve. Its goal is to eliminate conflict diamonds and by the KPCS definition of the term, it has been very effective. The next step would be to eliminate all human rights abuses in all of Africa but this is a task for another initiative that the KPCS does not entail. The Kimberley Process set down a series of goals. Though these goals may be narrow and fail to address human rights abuses, the process has done well in achieving them. So much progress has been made in many countries as a result of the KPCS. Countries like Sierra Leone and Angola have stayed out of civil war since the implementation of the KPCS. Unemployment across nearly all diamond mining countries has improved drastically and countries like Botswana provide an example to the rest of Africa’s diamond mining countries on the benefits of industrial mining. The Global Witness as well as other critics condemns the Kimberley Process for its lack of concern in addressing human rights issues associated with diamond mining across Africa. This is an extraneous argument. Human rights are outside the realm and scope of the process. The Kimberley Process was installed to solve the issue of conflict diamonds, not to end every single human rights abuse issue on the entire continent. The process can only do so much, and so far, it has accomplished what is set out to do. With more time and cooperation, the reach of the KPCS will eventually seep down into addressing human rights concerns. It is difficult for the process to work in countries that resist outside help or change. The issues that the Global Witness brings up could result in another process that strives to eliminate all human rights abuses and is separate from the KPCS. The diamond mining industry as a whole has not helped African countries develop, in fact it seems to have had the opposite effect. These countries are stuck in a cycle of natural resource exploitation that is difficult to escape. The Congo and the Congolese people have been torn apart and pitted against each other over resource wars. From the slave trade to rubber to conflict diamonds, the DRC has been pushed so far back in development that the progress since the implementation of the KPCS has been extraordinary. While the DRC, as well as many other countries in Africa have struggled desperately, these countries have ultimately endured and with the help of the KPCS those countries can expect to develop upward from here.
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1 Robert Simon, “Diamonds: A War’s Best Friend”
2 Dark Side of Globalization, Page 6
3 Dark Side of Globalization, Page 6
4 Meredith, Martin, The Fate of Africa
5 "DR Congo's $24 trillion fortune.." The Free Library. 2009 IC Publications Ltd. 24 Mar. 2015
6 Blood diamonds: Miners risk lives for chance at riches, Jeff Koinange,
7 Global Witness, The Truth About Diamonds: Conflict and Development
9 Global Witness, The Truth About Diamonds: Conflict and Development
10 Ndumbe and Cole, Illicit Diamond Trade, Civil Conflicts, and Terrorism in Africa
11 Global Witness, The Truth About Diamonds: Conflict and Development
13 Ndumbe and Cole, Illicit Diamond Trade, Civil Conflicts, and Terrorism in Africa
14 Grant, Andrew J., The Kimberley Process Reflections at Ten
15 Ndumbe and Cole, Illicit Diamond Trade, Civil Conflicts, and Terrorism in Africa
16 Global Witness, The Truth About Diamonds: Conflict and Development
17 Ndumbe and Cole, Illicit Diamond Trade, Civil Conflicts, and Terrorism in Africa
19 Global Witness, The Truth About Diamonds: Conflict and Development
23 Tamm, Ingrid J. Dangerous Appetites: Human Rights Activism and Conflict Commodities
24 Barbara Harlow, The "Kimberley Process": Literary Gems, Civil Wars, and Historical Resources
25 Global Witness, About US, Globalwitness.com
26 Barbara Harlow, The "Kimberley Process": Literary Gems, Civil Wars, and Historical Resources
27 Virginia Hauffer, The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme: An innovation in Global Governance and Conflict Prevention
28 The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme website, How the KPCS works
29 Virginia Hauffer, The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme: An innovation in Global Governance and Conflict Prevention http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/40605378?acceptTC=true
30 Virginia Haufler, The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme: An innovation in Global Governance and Conflict Prevention
31 Virginia Haufler, The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme: An innovation in Global Governance and Conflict Prevention
32 Joseph Hummel, Diamonds are a Smugglers Best Friend: Regulation, Economics and Enforcement in the Global Effort to Curb the Trade in Conflict Diamonds
33 The Zimbabwean, “Diamond Boss Blasts KP”
34 Brilliant Earth, Blood Diamond Expose
35 Global Witness website, Globalwitness.com
36 Grant, Andrew J., The Kimberley Process Reflections at Ten
37 Global Witness, The Truth About Diamonds: Conflict and Development
38 Grant, Andrew J., The Kimberley Process Reflections at ten
39 Clover, Jennifer, Botswana: Future Prospects and the Need for Broad Based Development
- Quote paper
- Maria Voorhees Maydan (Author), 2015, Diamond Mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/452243