Washington — The United States will host an international conference on the mining and trade of diamonds from conflict zones in southern Africa.
The annual Kimberley Process conference will be held June 4–7 at the State Department and will be chaired by U.S. Ambassador Gillian Milovanovic. The Kimberley Process represents 76 countries and operates by consensus. This is the first time the United States has held the chairmanship.
The process is named for a 2000 meeting in Kimberley, South Africa, of representatives of southern African diamond-producing countries. Soon after that meeting, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution supporting the creation of an independent certification process for the production and trade of rough diamonds to determine whether they are conflict-free. The certification process evolved into a mechanism to stem the trade of diamonds obtained from areas experiencing conflict. The process requires participating governments to certify the origin of rough diamonds and put in place effective controls to prevent conflict stones from entering the supply chain.
In 2003, it was launched to stem the flow of diamonds being sold to fund rebel groups. Conflict diamonds are also known as blood diamonds.
Milovanovic will be joined at the conference by Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Jose Fernandez, South African Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu and Eli Izhakoff, president of the World Diamond Association.
Before the Kimberley Process implemented its certification regime, conflict diamonds were estimated to account for as much as 15 percent of the world’s gemstone trade. It is now less than 1 percent.
The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have joined with private-sector partners and civil society to help diamond-producing countries in southern Africa break the link between criminally traded minerals and violence and human rights abuses.