The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme

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Big Hole-Kimberley, SA

I am aware that this is old news, but the other day I watched “Blood Diamond” (not the movie, but a documentary) on the History Channel, which brought up many old emotions.  Originally, I wanted to come at this piece from the “Blood Diamond” angle.  But then, I learned of the “Kimberley Process.”   Also known as KP, this is “an international governmental certification scheme that was set up to prevent the trade in diamonds that fund conflict. Launched in January 2003, the scheme requires governments to certify that shipments of rough diamonds are conflict-free.” Yes, to provide a Certificate with your purchase, insuring proof you had not purchased a conflict diamond.  How many of you reading this remembers the eleven year Civil War in Sierra Leone that took place from 1991 to 2002?  I do realize some of you were probably still in grade school, but this brutal civil war arose, because of a precious stone – the diamond.  And, I bet no one has seen this in any text-book since that time. However, that’s a totally different blog post.

To explain the whys and wherefores of this war, and the atrocities it caused would of course take a Historian. Not to mention, it is to complex, and layered simply to deep to cover it in the usual four paragraphs I use to make up my blog, which is evidenced by the longer post today.  Yet, I found it compelling enough to discuss, and refresh everyone’s memory as far as that jewel on your finger or the one laying in the concave of your throat.  Of course, as a married person I have a few in my engagement ring.  Also, over the years Hubby has showered me in gifts with even more – that’s what we do in this country, and others as well.  America does not house the only consumers, if you will.  But, would you give up that particular gemstone if you knew it would save a life, or give back to a person disabled because of its worth?

When I tried to look at the movie Blood Diamond with Matt Damon, I had to turn away; I couldn’t stand watching those atrocities.  Even though you may think the renditions came straight out of Hollywood, eerily they were not off the mark.  The Revolutionary United Front (R.U.F.) surely run by an enemy Charles Taylor, left natives without limbs, as well as hands and feet.  In addition, they recruited young girls from the age of twelve and fourteen as cooks and sex slaves for their movement.  They were known to ask each victim, “Do you want short sleeves or long sleeves.” What did that mean? They were asking if the one to receive the crime wanted his/her arms removed at the elbow, or just the hands from the wrists.  This is where we go a little deeper in one of those layers, because all of this mayhem took place for the sake of that same war and politics; to keep the residents from the polls – which in turn leads back to the stones.  In 1999 the United Nations sent in peace keeping forces, I have to say, eight years to late.  From May 1999 to July 1999 the R.U.F and the Sierra Leone Government met to negotiate a peace agreement, which did not help because the war thundered on for another three years.

In 1993 three friends established Global Witness, which is a Civil Rights Group with offices based in London, and Washington, D.C.  In their origination, one of their primary concerns involved bringing blood diamonds to the attention of the public, as well as policy makers.  Their campaign led to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.  In fact, Global Witness contributed to the making of the movie.  But, the organization, in December of 2011 announced that it had left the Kimberley Process because their refusal to address clear links between this gem, and violence had rendered the certification program outdated.  They also stated, “Nearly nine years after the Kimberley Process was launched, the sad truth is that most consumers still cannot be sure where their diamonds come from…”  It is thought that if the inspectors are not at the dig when these gems are pulled from the earth, their points of origin cannot be verified.

In 2004 many stores here in the U.S. could not say where their products came from, but, of course, they sold them anyway without certificates, which again is why Kimberley came into existence.  As of 2006 Ivory Coast diamonds were mined by rebels; not everyone realized this fact.  We can however rest assured that Charles Taylor did receive indictment for his war crimes in May 2012.

But, how much does the fact he is jailed, help all the innocent people who were harmed and/or maimed by his regime?  Although some of the victims have forgiven these crimes, they are the ones who have to wake up every day minus a limb, a foot, a hand, or even an ear.  It is doubly outrageous, and insulting that one of these rocks sold out of Sierra Leone for $20.00 can receive a 750% mark-up by the time is reaches Antwerp, being sold for $15,000.00.  The route could also be from Angola to Sierra Leone to Antwerp, and when you mention Angola those stones definitely have the color of red running over them.

In my research, I found the Grafton War Wounded Camp, through a CARE program, which houses the amputees from this civil war, and Global Witness, the civil rights group – both doing work for the cause.  There is another organization as well called: Partnership Africa-Canada. But, I will not endorse them, since they are continuing to promote Kimberley.  Now, granted, we know returning a ring, a necklace, or a bracelet will not solve any problems.  I also don’t believe a world campaign will keep anyone from a jewelry counter.  As usual, I want to get you thinking.  But, I would hate to believe we have this attitude of, well now, that’s there problem isn’t it?  It’s also quite incredible when you think about how this commodity is bled from the earth, erupting from inside a volcano, which then, explodes again once it reaches the atmosphere – only this time in the form of human blood.  How can this issue continue to go unresolved?

Image courtesy of 123rf.com

Information courtesy of Wikipedia – Global Witness – ABC News

CARE & Grafton War Wounded Camp

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