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When governments, the international diamond industry and NGOs came together to stem the flow of ‘blood diamonds’ – rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars – the result was a unique agreement known as the Kimberley Process, to find a practical way of preventing illicit diamonds from entering the legitimate diamond trade.
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) launched in 2003, regulates the international trade in rough diamonds, imposing minimum requirements on participating states to enable shipments to be certified as 'conflict-free'. Since the KPCS was put in place, the identified trade of conflict diamonds dramatically decreased from 15% to less than 1%.
Today the KP has 54 participants, representing 81 member countries (the EU participates on behalf of all the EU member states). Gabon received a favourable appreciation to become the 55th member. The KP stands for more than 99% of global rough diamond production and trade. In 2016, diamonds valued $97 billion were traded under the framework of the KPCS.
Trade in rough diamonds falls within the scope of the common commercial policy (Article 207 TFEU), hence the EU is a single KP 'Participant'. The EU is represented by the Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI) on behalf of the Commission.
At the level of the EU, the KPCS is implemented through Council Regulation (EC) No. 2368/2002 of 20 December 2002 implementing the Kimberley Process certification scheme for the international trade in rough diamonds.
The EU is the world’s largest trading centre for rough diamonds. Cities such as Amsterdam, Antwerp and London attract buyers and sellers from across the globe. Almost 90% of all rough diamonds pass through the EU, which issues more than 30 000 KP Certificates on an annual basis.
In support to its work on the KP, the EU (FPI) funds several projects under the Instrument Contributing to Security and Peace which are aimed at ensuring better governance in the diamond sector, the development of alternative livelihoods and addressing unemployment and poverty. As an example, the EU-US funded Property Rights and Artisanal Diamond Development Program (PRADD II project) in Cote d'Ivoire, supported women associations to rehabilitate exhausted mine sites and enable them to be used for agriculture.
In 2018 (1 January – 31 December), the European Union holds the Chairmanship of the Kimberley Process, which rotates on an annual basis.
The function of KP Chair involves overseeing the work of the KP Working Bodies, implementation of the KP Certification Scheme and steering the ongoing debate on KP reform.
The two main meetings of the year are the Intersessional (18-22 June, Antwerp) and the Plenary (12-16 November, Brussels).