The Canadian-based non-profit organisation IMPACT, has announced its exist from the conflict diamond certification scheme known as the Kimberley Process (KP).

The announcement came at the end of the Kimberley Process Plenary held in Brisbane from 9-14 December 2017, during which members discussed and adopted industry reforms. The scheme goes through a reform cycle every five years.

“The Kimberley Process and its Certificate has lost its legitimacy,” Joanne Lebert, Executive Director, IMPACT, told gathered KP members.

“Consumers are being sold something that is not real, since the internal controls that governments conform to do not provide the evidence of traceability and due diligence needed to ensure a clean, conflict-free, and legal diamond supply chain.

“Consumers have been given a false confidence about where their diamonds come from. This stops now,” said Lebert.

Longstanding dissatisfaction 

IMPACT had called for major reforms to bring legitimacy back to the scheme after civil society boycotted the 2016 Kimberley Process Chair, the United Arab Emirates, due to lax trading practices that have allowed conflict diamonds to enter the legitimate supply chain.

Along with members of the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition, IMPACT called for an expanded conflict diamond definition, as the definition currently in use limits “conflict diamonds” to only those used by rebel groups to finance their activities to overthrow governments, and excludes abuses perpetrated by governments or private security firms.

Civil society also called for reforms to reinforce internal controls at national and regional levels to strengthen traceability and minimise illicit trade.

According to Lebert, after they conducted extensive evaluation, the KP did not make enough progress on any of the reforms. It found many cases, including its 2016 research how despite an embargo, Central African Republic’s diamonds were entering the legitimate supply chain through Cameroon.

“We have come to the conclusion that the Kimberley Process has lost its will to be an effective mechanism for responsible diamond governance,” said Lebert.

The executive noted that IMPACT would continue to work with the KP members who genuinely sought to end the trade of conflict and illicit diamonds, through traceability and due diligence, whether through the KP or other initiatives.

“The organisation will collaborate with civil society members in diamond producing countries. We will work in continued solidarity with KP Civil Society Coalition members on the effective implementation of internal controls for diamonds and other conflict-prone minerals, as well as support countries to implement measures to end illicit trade,” concluded Lebert