How Will The US Handle The Kimberley Process?

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When the decision to allow Zimbabwe to resume diamond exports from Marange was announced, there was a very small silver lining attached. After months of political wrangling, the USA was finally appointed as the new Chair of the Kimberley Process. The decision to allow the US to lead the Kimberley Process over 2012 was seen as a hopeful indication that the KP mandate could be examined and expanded over the next year.

Unfortunately, the hopes that the KP mandate would be expanded were dashed when, on February 3rd 2012, Ambassador Gillian Milovanovic – the newly appointed KP Chair – announced that there were no plans to expand the KP to include control over polished diamonds.

Refusing to expand the KP to include polished diamonds ignores the very real problems involved in the polishing section of the diamond supply chain. There are widespread reports of child labour, poor working conditions and exploitative wages in polishing workshops. Without expanding its mandate to include this part of the industry, the KP remains complicit in perpetuating a fraud that KP diamonds are in fact, ‘ethical’ diamonds.

Ambassador Gillian Milovanovic has hinted at looking into whether the current definition of a conflict diamond is adequate and there is some hope that this may lead to an expansion of the KP mandate. However, it is important that jewellers and consumers continue to question where their diamonds not only came from, but also the conditions under which they were polished.

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