Changing the definition of conflict diamonds to include gems produced in violent conditions (which is another way of saying diamonds related to human rights abuses) is perhaps the most important—and politically charged—reform that could be made to the Kimberley Process. And at today’s World Diamond Council meeting in Vicenza, Italy, two important entities endorsed that initiative.
The first was Kimberley Process chair Gillian Milovanovic. This wasn’t exactly a surprise—it’s widely assumed the State Dept. favored such a change—but Milovanovic has danced around an outright endorsement of a definition change in the past. So her coming right out and saying the wording should change is indeed a bit of news.
The proposed change would cover “diamond-related violence in diamond producing and trading areas.” That definition is specifically worded to cover conflicts over gems, rather than every dispute that is taking place in a country. (Note the word “diamond” appears twice.) Milovanovic also endorsed a “transition period” towards a new definition, so that countries currently having problems have time to get their houses in order.
Following this, the World Diamond Council passed a resolution that expressed “support for discussions pertaining to widening the conflict diamonds definition.” Now, the WDC’s resolution does contain a weasel word or two—officially, it just expresses “support for discussions”—but there is little doubt as to its wider meaning, and NGO Partnership Africa Canada praised the organization for its action.
All this is a long way from having the Kimberley Process actually change the definition, which is what counts in the end. That remains anything but a sure bet. But momentum is building. And for people who favor reform of the Kimberley Process, and the diamond industry in general, today was a pretty good day.