I recently read an article about the KP potentially dropping the ban on diamonds from the Central African Republic (or, at least the western portion of the country controlled by the government).

Seeing as the most non-industry news outlets don’t tend to do a very good job preserving important nuance or incorporating all the necessary complexities and caveats when trying to summarize such things — example here, where it was written: “The Kimberley Process system for certifying the origin of diamonds is meant to inform customers about where the stones originated” (it does no such thing) — I reached out to a friend of mine that has worked with the KP on such issues. My subject was this:

Do diamond bans work?

Depends. Do they keep conflict diamonds out of the supply chain? Do they make the diamond trade less appealing as a revenue source to rebel groups? Rough Diamond Gemologist does a proper dressing-down of the KP here. Unsurprisingly, “the ban was only enabling the bad guys” was a commonly touted reason for dropping the ban in Côte d’Ivoire in spring of 2014.

As expected, my friend’s response was awesome. What I learned:

  • Regardless of the ability/inability to keep conflict diamonds out of the supply chain, it would be bad policy to succumb to an apathetic “don’t bother” approach.
  • Yes they do work, as there are considerations and reputational risks all the way down to the retail level.
  • CAR diamonds, when banned in 2013, did not fit the KP’s own definition of “conflict diamonds”, as the suspension was not strictly matching the KP’s definition or scope, but as a result of a lack of guarantee of safety to the review team, as well as lack of monitoring and internal controls, due to the lack of governance.
  • There was no assistance offered to bring CAR back in to compliance, and thus, they are in a similar limbo-esque position as is Venezuela as it regards to the KP
  • This is therefore case-in-point, of how the definition of “conflict diamonds” needs to be broadened at the KP.
    • On an off-tangent note, is it possible for a journalist to title any diamond-related article without a variation of “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”?