Kimberley Process Agrees to Peer Review

The one contentious issue left in the Kimberley Process—how it will be monitored—was somewhat settled at the recent plenary meeting in South Africa.

The diamond industry, nongovernmental organizations, and participating countries have agreed to a “voluntary peer review” process that would ensure Kimberley compliance. The thinking is that any country under suspicion would want to clear its name and would therefore apply for the review.

Prior to the meeting, nongovernmental organizations warned that the lack of a mandatory monitoring mechanism would undercut the process. Following the meeting, Alex Yearsley of Global Witness told Reuters, “It’s not everything we wanted, but it is a step in the right direction.”

The World Diamond Council hailed the agreement as a “breakthrough.”

The Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo Brazzaville volunteered to be the first countries to be inspected. In an article published prior to the meeting, the Financial Times estimated that half of the DRC’s diamond production evades export controls, with many stones said to be funneled through Congo Brazzaville.

Canada will provide the next chairman for the Kimberley Process, replacing South Africa’s well-regarded Abbey Chikane, who was considered instrumental in moving the process forward. The vice chairman will be from Russia.