Conflict diamonds. The reform challenges of the Kimberley Process, a lecture by Philippe Beke

In cooperation with Amsterdam Centre for European Studies

03dec2018 20:00 - 21:30


Eighty-five percent of diamond rock is industrially mined with very limited risk on abuse. The other fifteen percent however has major risks on unclear business. These diamonds are almost entirely located in Western and Central Africa. Measures against illegal mining have been taken on several levels, including the European, by most notably the Kimberley Process, uniting different groups in decreasing the flow of so-called conflict diamonds. Philippe Beke, senior policy advisor for the Kimberley Process at the European Commission, lays out the challenges the process has faced.

The Kimberley Process unites administrations, civil societies, and industry in reducing the flow of conflict diamonds – rough diamonds used to finance wars against governments around the world.

During the Kimberley Process, a new certification system was launched in 2003. This is also referred to as KPCS, the Kimberley Process Certification System. The set-up of a certification system was a direct consequence of alarming reports in 1998 and 2000 on Angola and Sierra Leone. The certification system successfully dealt with the trade in conflict diamonds, which saw a worldwide decline from up to 15% in the 1990s to less than 1% in 2018.

Systemic violence in informal diamond mining in Zimbabwe (particularly in the infamous Marange diamond fields) brought the credibility of the Kimberley Process in 2008 under pressure. Introducing human rights in the chain of custody of diamonds could not find consensus in the years following the Marange debacle. The Kimberley Process was divided as a consequence. In 2018 – 2019, a second reform cycle is making a new attempt to introduce sustainable development, responsibly sourced diamonds and basic human rights in the scope of the Kimberley Process. The KPCS is a governmental driven regulatory mechanism, but should business be more responsible? Under EU chairmanship, the Brussels Plenary meeting of the Kimberley Process on November 2018 takes stock of the state of play in this reform cycle.

About the speakers

Philippe Beke is Senior Policy Advisor for the Kimberley Process at the European Commission’s Service for Foreign Policy Instruments, the EU being the KP Chair in 2018. Before taking up this position in 2017, he was amongst others Belgian Ambassador to Finland and Romania.

Philip Schleifer (discussant) is Assistant Professor in Transnational Governance at the Political Science Department of the University of Amsterdam (UvA). His research interests lie in the areas of global environmental governance and international political economy. In particular, his research focuses on the institutional design and effectiveness of transnational private governance in the developing world.


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