The Kimberley Process attempts to curtail the sale of conflict diamonds on the international marketplace.  However, corrupt officials undermine the process, because they may be bribed to certify a smuggled diamond as “conflict free.”  Hence, the trade in “conflict free” certified diamonds may, in fact, still have financed violence.




“Blood Diamonds” or conflict diamonds are diamonds mined in areas controlled by groups opposed to legitimate government and sold for a profit that is used to finance violence against the government.  The subject of a popular 2006 movie, the problem of blood diamonds gained attention in the U.S. in the late 1990’s, and the Kimberley Process was introduced in 2000 to attempt to make international trading in blood diamonds more difficult, thereby curtailing the profits that warlords—and even terrorist groups like Al Qaida—can gain through diamond mining and trading.


The process has met mixed success.  It works by requiring member countries to certify the origin of diamonds mined within their borders, which leaves open the possibility that certifying officials can be bribed.  In 2003 U.N. published a list of countries that comply with its certification requirements.  By maintaining their presence on this list by meeting the Kimberley Process standards for certifying diamonds’ origins, countries are able to trade diamonds on the international market.



While the Kimberley Process has met some modest successes, and powerful nations certainly have the right to refuse to buy a product that they believe harmful, the certification does not truly guarantee that the diamonds purchased in the West are “conflict free.”  However, they are presented in this way, and consumers don’t truly understand that they may be financially supporting (through a long chain of transactions) conflict when they purchase ANY diamond that is not lab-created.


Since I did not complete a reading list over break, I have compiled links to the articles that I used below:







16 Comments so far

  1.    Haywood on March 13, 2012 4:56 pm      Reply

    The Kimberley Process, I believe, arose out of the violence of Sierra Leone and Angola, both of which were resolved by the time the Process was put in place. I see from your last (and most recent) citation that Global Witness and other NGOs have left it, wanting it to have a broader focus that includes human rights as well as conflict. The Process requires a government to certify the bona fides of diamonds, but such a certification requires the existence of a government that is organized and effective (not the case in many places in Africa). As for human rights, governments are often the main perpetrators of violations. In any case, diamonds are tiny and valuable and therefore hard to monitor. On the other hand, Botswana shows that diamonds can be a country’s salvation.

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