On this Valentine’s Day, one of the world’s favorite gifts is a diamond. The popularity of this gem is as strong as ever but for some potential buyers, there’s always the fear of purchasing a “blood” diamond. But soon, this definition could change after almost 10 years.
In 2003, the United Nations launched the Kimberley Process, a watchdog group that required the 76 participating countries comprised of the major diamond traders to put together a system to rid conflict diamonds from entering or leaving their territories. The Kimberley Process members only trade diamonds with each other and the certification enables legitimate diamond sales, according to Bloomberg.
This keeps conflict or blood diamonds from landing on engagement rings sold in the world’s finest jewelry stores.
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The United Nations has defined these conflict diamonds as “…diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council.”
The areas usually in question and of concern has encompassed central and western Africa but currently Kimberly certificates have denied diamonds from the Ivory Coast.
But now as the group nears its 10th anniversary, it is poised for reform and a definition change of conflict diamonds. At the forefront of violations and the conversation is Marange, Zimbabwe.
After singling out the area for abuses in the 2000s, notably in 2008 upon the discovery of new diamond mines and continued abuses, the Kimberley Process changed their tune in 2010 and gave Zimbabwe the right to sell the diamonds. This was led by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who said their rules didn’t encompass human rights violations as a reason to make the diamonds exempt from sales.
Today, human abuses in Marange continues and at issue is whether the Kimberley Process, who has the goal to see that “ordinary” people are not hurt by the diamond trade, should also prohibit diamonds from hitting the market under these suffering conditions.
This year, U.S. diplomat Gillian Milovanovic has taken over the reins at the Kimberley Process and has expressed a desire to expand the conflict diamond definition.
In a recent interview with CNN, Milovanovic said, “One of the things which will certainly be looked at and which we certainly support looking at and believe should get a close look is whether that definition is still sufficiently encompassing or appropriate given today’s challenges.”
Milaovanovic has been short on specifics for reforms but she will need to move quickly as the clock is ticking. In January (11 months from now), South Africa will then take over the Process. They have said they are committed to reforms with the U.S over the next two years but who’s to say other challenges won’t come up demanding their attention.