Time for diamond companies to stop hiding behind Kimberley Process

Diamond companies must stop using the Kimberley Process to claim that their diamonds are free from human rights abuses and conflict, Amnesty International said as the certification scheme holds its annual plenary in Luanda, Angola.

The Kimberley Process was created with good intentions in 2003 to stop so-called “blood diamonds” that fund rebel groups from entering global markets. But a September 2015 Amnesty International report exposed systemic weaknesses in the scheme. Armed groups in the Central African Republic (CAR), for example, are profiting from the country’s internal diamond trade, with diamonds from CAR finding their way into global markets despite a Kimberley Process export ban.

Diamond companies continue to hide behind the veneer of respectability offered by the Kimberley Process rather than taking responsibility for what happens along their supply chains.
Lucy Graham, Business & Human Rights Researcher


“The Kimberley Process was created to stop the international trade in blood diamonds, but it has not even achieved that limited goal. Meanwhile, the ethical problems facing the diamond sector have grown: our report exposed child labour, smuggling, exploitative working conditions and tax-evasion issues,” said Lucy Graham, Researcher in Amnesty International’s Business and Human Rights team.

“Despite evidence exposing the clear need for change, the diamond industry reacted defensively to our report and ignored the issues we raised. They continue to hide behind the veneer of respectability offered by the Kimberley Process rather than taking responsibility for what happens along their supply chains.”

The United Arab Emirates, one of the world’s biggest diamond trading centres, is expected to take over the rotating chair of the Kimberley Process on 1 January 2016. Amnesty International’s report exposed loopholes in the UAE’s system for preventing the trade in blood diamonds while finding that Dubai's Tax Free Zone encourages diamond traders to make massive profits at the expense of developing countries.

“Governments like the UAE need to show leadership. This means new laws that ensure companies take responsibility for illegal acts and serious human rights abuses in their diamond supply chains,” said Lucy Graham.

Chains of Abuse

How Amnesty International exposed Kimberley Process weaknesses