Effectiveness Of The Kimberley Diamond Process Politics Essay

The Sierra Leone brutal conflicts in the 1990s brought global attention to conflict diamonds. The trade in conflict diamond has contributed to the death of thousands of people in conflict ridden diamond producing countries such as Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone. Diamonds and the illicit trade in gems have long served to provide a ready source of finance for conflict protagonists in these countries (Grant and Taylor 2004, p. 387). Conflict diamonds or blood diamonds as they have become known were traded for arms. In 1999, a United Nation mission help brokered a peace deal in Sierra Leone, which culminated in a fragile stability. With so many lives lost during these conflicts and the need to protect the fragile stabilities in these countries, the international community responded further to the issue by establishing the Kimberley process.

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The Kimberley process is a multilateral trade agreement specifically to prevent conflicts. It is a system of regulation and safeguards devise with active involvements of NGOs, Government and industry that would prevent trade in conflict diamonds. According to the Global Witness (2000) “the conflict diamonds campaign may be summarised as the coordinated efforts that aim to end the sale of diamonds that originate from areas under the control of forces that are in opposition to elected and internationally recognized governments, or are in any way connected to those groups (Grant and Taylor 2004, p. 388). Prior to the Kimberley process, anti-conflict diamonds campaign sought to deploy multi-track diplomacy to influence states and corporations through supplying information and material to both the public and governments as a means of putting pressure on the actors concerned (Ibid, p. 387). The Kimberley process ensured operational standards through the voluntary acceptance of the mission by participating countries. The monitoring of the process is based on consensus through a peer monitoring mechanism among participating countries.

The Kimberley process has come to represent a sort of solution to a seemingly common global issue. The establishment of the Kimberley process begs the question; will diamond ever again be used to fund war? The “blood diamond” trade is a global issue that has taken global dimensions and implication. It has become a trans-boarder and inter-continental problem in scope and form. The Kimberley process represent a rule set up to guide the behavior of state in the trade of conflict diamond and hence a global policy. Therefore, being a process meant to enforce change in the process of diamond trade, it has to be enforced. Like any other global policy, the nation states (that are signatory to the process) are only compel as a moral obligation in the international system to follow the process. A nation state concern cannot handle this issue alone and therefore the need for global collaboration. This raises the question of the capacity of nation states to collaborate together to meet this common challenges.

The capacity of the nation states in the global arena to collaborate effectively on issues is questionable considering the great deal of indeterminacy in politics among states and the fact that international actors can learn new patterns of reasoning and may consequently begin to pursue new interests (Hass 1992, p. 2). This uncertainty is reflected in the global financial architecture crisis (credit crunch), the stalled Doha Rounds (WTO trade negotiation) and the failure of Copenhagen summits on environments. In the light of this, the effective involvements of governments, NGOs and industry in the Kimberley process will be undermine by uncertainty among the actors. Uncertainty in the sense is that each of these actors will be driven by its interests and as such because the process is a trans-boundary issues it will escapes the existing mechanism for accountability and control.

This paper argues that the problem of policy coordination among states, coupled with the interest driven international system environment will greatly undermine the effectiveness and efficiency of the Kimberley process in tackling the global issue of blood diamond. The most of the arguments for this position is drawn from the case study of Sierra Leone as part of the member nation and a country which have undergone civil war mostly funded by blood diamond. This paper is structured into four sections. The first part, which is this section, is the introductions. The second section traces the genesis of the Kimberly process and locates it in the context of contemporary multilateral trade agreement. The third section is a critical examination of the extent to which the Kimberley process serves to address a global policy issue. In this section most of the analyses were drawn from the case study of Sierra Leone. The last part is the conclusion. While it applaud the emergence of the Kimberley process which is aim to prevent the trade in conflict diamond, it draws attention to the weak nature of mechanisms to monitor the process particularly from the standpoint a state that has just emerged from civil war.

2.0 The Emergence of the Kimberley Process

Specifically, the Kimberley process was established to put an end to the trade in diamond that originates from a conflicts region. It is a joint venture involving governments, NGOs and the international diamond industry. The campaign by NGOs particularly the London-based Global Witness into a lack of corporate accountability in the global trade in diamonds triggered global awareness on the flow of conflict diamonds. The progress to achieve this shared objective began in May 2000 and by December 2000, all 191 members of the United Nations General Assembly voted unanimously to support the process (DiamondFact). It marked the first time that a global industry had cooperated with the United Nations, governments and civil society to address an important humanitarian issue (Ibid).

By revealing the deepest and darkest secret of the century-old diamond industry, Global Witness has led a campaign on the need to prohibit the trade in blood diamond. Therefore, on 24 June 1998 the United Nations activated Security Council Resolution 1173, which sought to prohibit the direct or indirect export of unofficial (i.e. UNITA) diamonds from Angola (Grant and Taylor 2004, p. 388). The embargo were meant to simultaneously curb the trade of diamonds in war tone countries, especially in Africa and also to address the issues of human rights abuses in these countries and other countries that are not in conflict situation but exports diamond. In this regard, the emergence of the Kimberley process is a result of human rights campaigns by international organisation and the participation of the member countries has more to do with human rights concerns and the likely backlash from global consumers of diamond.

The international embargo on all exports of rough diamonds not certified by Angolan officials (S/RES/1173) in 1998 is the first step towards curbing the trade in conflict diamonds (Kantz 2007, p.2). However, the combination of this embargo and the one later imposed on diamonds originating from Sierra Leone in 2000 (S/RES/1306) were not sufficient and proved ineffective in keeping illicitly-mined diamonds out of the global trading system (Ibid, p.2). With increase NGO campaign against diamond originating from conflict areas, and the fear of consumer backlash, the major actors in the diamond trade which are the producing state, the diamond industry and the NGOs that led the campaigns again blood diamond converged on Kimberley to discuss the issue of blood diamond. It is from this meeting that the Kimberley process developed (Ibid).

The international certification scheme for rough diamond has therefore become an example of the functionality of global governance and policy control. At present, there are forty-nine member representing seventy-five countries with the European Community and its Member States counting as an individual participant [1] . The Kimberly process portrays a system of governance of globalization, although its emergence is uniquely different from other international regulatory bodies. It started in May 2000 when Southern African diamond-producing states met in Kimberley to discuss ways to stop the trade in ‘conflict diamonds’ and ensure that diamond purchases were not funding violence as a result of pressures from international human rights organization. The meeting itself was a consequent of human rights campaigns on blood diamond and the fear of likely consumer backlash on the diamond consumption which will have negative implication for diamond-producing nations and the industry as a whole.

3.0 How effective is the Kimberley Process: a case study of Sierra Leone.

There is no gainsaying the trade in diamond funded the bloody ambitious civil war that lead to the deaths of tens of thousands of people in Sierra Leone and consequently left the country on its knees. The Kimberley Process came into being so as to prevent this kind of situation from happening again anywhere in the world. Hence, countries signed-up to the Kimberley Process designed to stop blood diamond entering the diamond vendor stores across the globe. The primary aim of the process therefore is to end the trade in conflict diamond. Is this now the case? Has the member states been able to handle this problem effectively though collaboration? In actual fact, the Kimberley process is not working properly.

Before proceeding to further details and analysis, two instances for the improper coordination of the Kimberley process are given. This is to serve as an eye opener for the rest of the paper. The fist has to do with institutional weakness of country just emerging from civil war. The capacity of institution and the mechanism for regulation and control in the participating countries varies in degree. A country such as Sierra Leone is bedevilled with corruption and accountability at the state level and her effectiveness in implementing the process is highly questionable. Secondly, the thriving of illegal miner in most of these countries meant that there are many diamonds in those countries that never pass through the normal process of Kimberley agreement. Therefore, the end of the conflict almost a decade ago does not implies the end in trade of illicit diamond. In addition, not until recently was agreement reached over the diamonds from the Marange region in Zimbabwe. Prior to July 17, 2010 when the agreement was eventually reached, the government of Zimbabwe has insisted on continue export of diamond from a region were it was allege that there is a great violation of human rights. Although, since last September Zimbabwe has began to carry supervised exports of rough diamond from the Marange production, the initial loggerheads indicates a stake reality of difficulty of collaboration among states.

In Kono districts (a diamond mining area) in Sierra Leone- a district in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone which was devastated during the war, illicit diamond mining still thrives. During the war the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) used Kono as their base because of the large deposit of diamond in the area. The RUF control the mines and traded diamonds for guns and ammunitions thus their operations was fully funded by illicit diamond. These diamonds were easily smuggled out of Sierra Leone through Guinea corridors and was even alleged that the former Liberian Leader Charles Taylor also easily helped in smuggling these diamond out of Sierra Leone. After the war is over, several hundreds of people in this area are still involve in illegal diamond mining. They work all day searching for diamond with the hope of finding a diamond which process will break them loose from the shackles of poverty.

Although since the implementation of the Kimberley processes have begun and the war is over, the official diamond export has triple in Sierra Leone. It must be noted that significant amount of diamond produce by informal miners in Sierra Leone are not accounted for. These informal diamond miners prefer to sell their stones on the black market where it will fetch more money compare to taking it to a dealer. As a result of the tense situation and growing insecurity in Sierra Leone, these miners resort to smuggling the diamond across boarder into Guinea where they will sell it at a better price. These informal miners do not care who or where the diamond ends up. There only concern is the money they will make from diamond sales. This means there are still a lot of diamonds that do no pass through the Kimberley process. It is these informal miners who are forced to work at gun point by the RUF rebels during the war. As a result of the risks involve in informal mining and smuggling, diamond sales still remains the means to get weapons by illegal miners first to protect themselves, and second to compel others to work for them. Therefore, people still kill for the sake of diamond in these places.

In the light of this, to what extent has the Kimberley process able to curb smuggled diamond? Certainly, the process monitoring mechanism lacked the capacity to curb illegal smuggled diamond. This is because the participation states are obligated to abide by the process and ensure all diamond originating from their country is Kimberley process certified. However, the institutional weakness of the countries just coming out make this difficult to achieve in these countries. Kantz (2007, p.1) acknowledge this by stating that “regulating MNC operations in the global South is a challenging task. Due to their technological expertise and financial ability on the one hand, and the weak regulatory capacity of Southern host countries on the other, companies possess a large amount of structural power”. Not only that informal miners can easily smuggle diamond out of Sierra Leone to sell in the neighbouring Guinea, corruption has eaten deep into the fabric of the society that state officials can be bribed by dealers and/or multinational companies and get their diamond certified without having to prove the source of the diamond.

In brief, in order to eliminate the existence of conflict diamond there must not be smuggling but to become a legitimate miners in a country bedevilled with corruption is likely impossible. However, it cannot be said that the Kimberley process has failed to address a global public policy issue. The process has, in its most important aspect, set the standard for trading diamond from conflict areas which will ensure global coordination in regards to global issue. In particular, the Kimberley Process reflects the fundamental reconstitution of the global public domain (Ruggie, 2004). The collaborative constitution of the process which involve the diamond industry, the states and the monitoring NGOs explains the fact that the global public domain has transformed from that which the sates are dominants. As Ruggie (2004, p. 2) submits, the public in international politics cannot only be equated with the states as transnational corporation and NGOs have become embedded in the international system.

The Kimberley Process in its entirety does not provide any mechanisms for controlling or regulating the unorthodox aspects of diamond trade like any global policy. Diamond mining provides jobs for tens of thousands of Africans, yet the legal miners do not have the capacity to engage this teeming people in their fold. Or, some of those engaged by legal mining industry also participate in illegal mining with the hope of striking a fortune from diamond. So, the question is that were does the diamond of unregulated informal miners are sold. Certainly, they are sold on the black market. This illegal diamond find their ways into international market and most dealers on their parts do not bothers where it come from since they are interested in buying cheap diamond in other to make bigger profits. Therefore, as interest underpinned the action of states on the international arena, so also it underpins Trans-national Corporation who are only bent on making profits.

4.0 Conclusion

In conclusion, blood diamond has contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousand of people. The implication of the trade is not only limited to Africa, as the most pressing example of diamonds being used to propagate destruction and violence is that of terrorist organizations Grant and Taylor 2004, p. 388). In the light of blood diamond even been used to propagate war against western countries, there is urgent need to work towards strengthening the mechanisms of monitoring in the diamond producing conflict ridden states in Africa. The strengthening should have no be limited to conflicts ravaged diamond producing country, it should be extended to all participating countries in the Kimberley Process.

The emergence of the Kimberley process should be applauded since actors can now be held responsible for any digression from the process. As this represents a global system to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate diamond supply chain and thus helping to fund conflict, it is an indication of workable global policy in the international arena. The process therefore is an exemplification of the ways business is done in contemporary world, in which the 1945 multilateral system is not capable of resolving. The intensive and extensive global issues of our time are well tackled through fundamental reconstitution of the global public domain. Although, the “systemic conditions and domestic pressures impose constraints on state behaviors but there is still a wide degree of latitude for state action” (Haas 1992, p. 2).