Civics Groups Slam ‘Rigid’ Kimberley Process as Russia Emerges Unscathed

Activists in Botswana have slammed the Kimberley Process, which is intended to prevent diamonds from financing wars, after meetings this week failed to censure Russia. 

The European Union (EU) and allies sought to expand the definition of conflict diamonds to include top supplier Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

A push to get Russian diamonds censured during a week-long meeting in the resort town of Kasane came up empty.

The EU, Ukraine and the United States had wanted the Kimberley Process inter-sessional meeting to broaden the definition of conflict diamonds in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Russian is the world’s largest producer of diamonds.

Speaking at the closing meeting Friday, Kimberley Process Chairperson Jacob Thamage said the efforts of the EU and its allies failed to go through due to lack of consensus. 

“You will recall that when we started on Monday afternoon, it took quite an ordinate amount of time to reach consensus on the agenda as initially we had the EU proposing an inclusion of an agenda item around which there was no consensus,” Thamage said. “Ideas and proposals were tabled for inclusion on the agenda. For instance, those who supported the EU’s initial proposal, with a modified proposal that spoke to preventing diamonds from fueling conflict.”  

World Diamond Council Chairperson Edward Asscher says there is a need for reforms, particularly with the definition of conflict diamonds. 

“This year, throughout our engagement with many government participants here in Kasane, there seems to be strong support for further reforms, including that of the conflict diamond definition,” Asscher said. “We joined an inter-session hosted by the civil society coalition and we were pleased to have been able to conduct an open and honest dialogue about the reform of the KP. We would like to see this dialogue continued within the KP.”     

Asscher says he still has confidence and belief in the Kimberley Process despite recent criticism the diamond trade body is losing relevance.

However, Hans Merket, a member of the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition, was disappointed with the outcome of the Botswana meeting.     

“The consensus system makes it too easy for a small minority to hold everyone hostage,” Merket said. “The consensus model is being used to veto any progress. The world is bypassing the Kimberley Process.”   

Merket adds it is disappointing that discussions on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were blocked. 

“We had somewhat expected a discussion on whether Russian diamonds must be seen as conflict diamonds with the invasion of Ukraine,” Merket said. “That discussion was blocked. We were prepared that veto power will be used to avoid KP to address that. What is worse is that we could not have a discussion on what the KP’s general weakness are and how the KP falls short in breaking the link between diamonds and violent conflict.”   

The world’s leading diamond producers, drawn from 85 countries, will return to Botswana in November for plenary discussions. 

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