'Blood diamond' monitoring to remain focus on conflict-torn regions

'Blood diamond' monitoring to remain focus on conflict-thorn regions

The newly elected president of the World Diamond Council, Edward Asscher, put a chill Tuesday on the movement to expand the scope of the Kimberley Process and so cover general human rights abuses, stating the trade body should focus exclusively  on diamonds proceeding from conflict zones.

Speaking at the Intercessional Meeting of the Kimberley Process In Shanghai, Asscher said he supported increasing the scope of a global monitoring of the trade in rough diamonds to counter all forms of organized violence, not only those associated with civil wars. However, he drew a line at "other social and humanitarian challenges", saying this task should be left to other industry actors.

Currently the KP only addresses diamonds produced in areas controlled by rebel militias. It doesn’t take into consideration violence committed by governments.

“The implementation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in 2003 saved many lives,” he said in his speech. “Its effectiveness inspired further confidence in our product, the diamond.”

'Blood diamond' monitoring to remain focus on conflict-thorn regions

Poster for campaign in France, highlighting the costs of conflict diamonds. Courtesy of Amnesty International.

The KP is an international certification scheme for controlling rough diamond production and trade created by the United Nations in 2003, following an international outcry over the role of diamonds in fuelling conflicts.

For almost two years the group has been debating an expansion of the official definition of conflict diamond, as outlined by the KP, with no results.

“Blood” or “conflict diamonds” are mined in a conflict zone and sold to finance rebellions, and abuses of warlords or invading armies. The international certification scheme, which requires exporting governments to certify that their diamonds are “conflict-free,” is run by a coalition of major diamond trading and producing countries, as well as mining companies and NGOs.