IPIS Briefing November 2019 – Focus on Kimberley Process after failed reform cycle

The IPIS briefing offers a selection of articles, news and updates on natural resources, armed conflict, Business & Human Rights and arms trade.  Every month, an editorial and related publications shed a light on a specific topic in IPIS’ areas of research.

In focus: Kimberley Process after failed reform cycle.

In the news: United Nations takes step in developing a Treaty on Business and Human Rights; why cutting off artisanal miners is not responsible sourcing; how jihadists struck gold in Africa’s Sahel.

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This briefing is produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of IPIS and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union


Last November, 55 participants, representing 82 countries, as well as industry and civil society observers, convened in New Delhi for the 2019 Plenary of the Kimberley Process (KP). This was the last meeting of a three-year reform cycle aimed at making the KP’s conflict diamond certification scheme fit for purpose. IPIS, in its capacity of providing technical support and capacity enhancement to the KP’s civil society coalition (KP CSC), witnessed how participating states, yet again, failed to reach consensus on meaningful changes. This raises important questions about the further relevance of this mechanism and the role of civil society engagement.

The Kimberley Process is an intergovernmental cooperation mechanism that implements a rough diamond import/export certification scheme. It was established in 2003 to address concerns that diamonds were fueling brutal civil wars across Africa. In 2017, the KP initiated a new reform cycle in reaction to ever-louder concerns over its efficacy, credibility and integrity. This opposition relates to both the substandard governance and narrow scope of the certification scheme, which allows too many loopholes and spoilers to continue undermining responsible sourcing.

The KP defines conflict diamonds as “rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments”. This not only overlooks many kinds of violence and conflict, such as sexual violence, torture or inhumane treatment, that does not finance wars against governments. It also neglects abuses committed by actors other than rebels, not the least public and private security forces. Various reports show that such deficiencies are not just theoretical, but in fact lead to diamonds tainted by all kinds of violence and human rights abuse, to continue being sold on international markets with KP certificates.

Even though these shortcomings are long-known, and despite warnings from both civil society and industry that the scheme is at risk of losing all credibility, the Plenary again failed to make meaningful changes to the scheme’s scope and governance. How can that be explained?

A key explanatory factor is the KP’s consensus-based decision-making, in combination with competing economic and geopolitical interests. The situation is further compounded by the absence of long-term thinking, particularly regarding the severe reputational risks to the global diamond sector, as well as little media attention and public scrutiny. For example, countries with artisanal diamond mining fear stigmatization and embargoes due to the specific challenges of regulating this sector. Trading and processing countries often prioritize commercial interests over ethics, while some of the great powers rank geostrategic interests above diamond governance. Further, countries with significant synthetic diamond production may be less concerned with the image of natural diamonds. Only large consumer markets start to feel the pressure of a new generation of consumers with a strong desire for ethically sourced stones.

Reconciling such diverging positions requires trust, commitment and vision, whilst the refusal by just one participant to engage in discussions suffices to obstruct change. The KP has moreover become entangled in a Kafkaesque, insular logic, marked by proceduralism and legalism, that alienates outsiders, and thus further undermines public scrutiny, interest and pressure. Countries that support reform are therefore not inclined to throw in their full political weight, whilst those opposing change are not held publicly accountable for derailing discussions.

As a result of this state of affairs, the Kimberley Process is unlikely to move beyond its niche focus on rebels fighting governments any time soon. Despite the many ongoing abuses in the sector, the only country where conflict diamonds currently fall under the KP’s definition is the Central African Republic. CAR is subject to a KP embargo and can only export from a number of compliant zones under KP monitoring. The KP CSC will continue to scrutinize such measures, and hold the spotlight on this murky certification scheme that tends to overlook community rights and is presented to consumers as something much broader and more effective than it actually is. It will do this in the capacity of a watchdog observer to the process. Yet, while the KP is still often presented as a genuine tripartite process, it should be stressed that it is in reality “a government-dominated body serving to protect national diamond-sector interests”, as put by the coordinator of the CSC in his closing address to the KP Plenary in Delhi.

The KP’s long-standing resistance to change has led various civil society actors to quit the process, and those who have stayed increasingly look outside this scheme to push for improved diamond governance, better community rights and consumer ethics. These efforts will be scaled up after the Delhi fiasco. IPIS, as an independent research institute and through its technical and capacity support to the KP CSC, will therefore deepen and expand its research related to diamond governance and cross-learning between various mineral governance initiatives. Watch this space for updates in 2020 and beyond.

Hans Merket


Didier Reynders pleads for a continued commitment of the Kimberley Process to strengthen the fight against conflict diamonds | 23 November 2019 | Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders calls for a continued commitment to strengthen the Kimberley Process (KP) and to extend the definition of conflict diamonds. “Belgium is satisfied with the progress made by the Kimberley Process during its plenary meeting in New Delhi last week. Our country will keep working to extend the definition of conflict diamonds. This is indeed crucial to keep leading a credible and efficient fight against conflict diamonds.”

Conclusion of the 2019 Kimberley Process Plenary | 22 November 2019 | U.S. Department of State

The United States participated in the annual Kimberley Process (KP) Plenary in New Delhi, India, from November 18–22.  Representatives from most of the 82 KP countries also participated in the Plenary, which was chaired this year by India.

“Conflict diamond certification scheme unable and unwilling to reform” | 22 November 2019 | KPCSC

Today, another three-year reform cycle of the Kimberley Process came to an end without meaningful change. Participating states could only find consensus on insignificant changes to the scope and governance of the scheme. They once again failed to effectively protect communities in diamond mining areas from ongoing abuses. In this manner, KP certificates still provide no guarantees that diamond purchases are not tainted with blood.

WDC to continue advocating for the strengthening of the scope of Kimberley Process | 22 November 2019 | Diamond World

Despite progress made with capacity-building programs for the artisanal mining sector and KP’s approach to Central African Republic exports, the WDC will continue to advocate for the strengthening of the scope of the Kimberley Process, following the inability to achieve consensus at the KP Plenary

Kimberley Process Certification Scheme’s Plenary meeting hosted from Nov 18 | 18 November 2019 | Devdiscourse

Commerce Secretary informed that India is sensitive to the issues and challenges of artisanal and small scale mining and acknowledges the contribution made by the KP members, observers and agencies for their upliftment.

The Kimberley Process Is Going Nowhere. Should We Care? | 15 November 2019 | JCK Online

Earlier this month, World Diamond Council president Stephane Fischler wrote that the upcoming Kimberley Process (KP) Plenary in New Dehli, India, could represent a “watershed moment” for the certification scheme, as it will get one more chance to revise its definition of conflict diamonds to include human rights violations.

KP Plenary a “Make or Break” Moment, Says Observers | 14 November 2019 | The Diamond Loupe

With the Kimberley Process (KP) Plenary starting next week in New Dehli, KP Observers are saying the certification scheme has reached the moment of truth as to whether it will expand its definition of ‘conflict diamonds’, a move many see as critical to the KP’s continued relevance.

“Make-or-break moment for Kimberley Process to restore faith and stop flow of blood diamonds” | 13 November 2019 | KPCSC

For over a decade, civil society and increasingly industry observers to the Kimberley Process have been decrying how the scheme is failing to stop diamonds affected by various forms of conflict from flowing onto international markets. Now, at the end of a three-year reform cycle, it is up to the 82 participating states meeting in New Delhi from 18 to 22 November, to take their responsibility in finally addressing the most significant flaws in the scheme’s scope and efficacy.

Centrafrique : Moscou souhaite la levée totale de l’embargo sur les diamants | 13 November 2019 | Jeune Afrique

Russia wants end to embargo on Central Africa diamonds | 13 November 2019 | RFI

La Russie, qui présidera en 2020 l’initiative internationale luttant contre les “diamants de guerre”, veut lever l’embargo partiel pesant sur le diamant de Centrafrique, pays dont Moscou a fait le pivot de ses ambitions africaines.

Rapport diagnostic sur la contrebande des diamants en République Centrafricaine | 29 October 2019 | Landlinks

Les exportations légales des diamants bruts en provenance de la République centrafricaine ont connu une baisse considérable depuis le début de la crise militaro-politique de 2013. Si une certaine proportion a toujours quitté le pays sans suivre la chaîne de traçabilité légale du PK, celle-ci ne représentait pas une partie majeure de la production.

Increased transparency in diamond transactions needed, says WFDB | 30 September 2019 | Mining Weekly

The World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) presidents’ meeting, after a special session on blockchain technology and supply source traceability, has decided to take steps to further improve transparency in diamond transactions.

Real Care is Rare: An on-the-ground perspective on blood diamonds and the fifth ‘C’ | 26 September 2019 | KPCSC

A new report, Real Care is Rare. An On-The-Ground Perspective on Blood Diamonds and the Fifth ‘C’, highlights the existence of modern day blood diamonds due to ongoing ties between diamonds and brutal human rights abuse (amongst other ethics issues) in certain diamond mining locales on the African continent and beyond.

How blockchain can track conflict minerals | 25 September 2019 |

Blockchain, a form of immutable distributed ledger technology that uses consensus protocols to validate online transactions, is most often associated with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Kimberley Process a problem | 12 September 2019 | John Mills | BusinessDay

Illegal diamond mining in the Northern Cape exposes the major flaw in, and the superficial narrowness of, the Kimberley Process for the international diamond trade. Initiated from Kimberley in the early 2000s, the process is still, disappointingly, a work-in-progress that has failed to evolve over the past 17 years.

How many miners would you kill to slip that diamond ring onto a finger? | 12 July 2019 | Business Day

Producers of the precious stone should heed the expanded definition of blood diamonds if they want to protect sales.



Canada’s mining industry in Africa and social responsibility | 20 November 2019 |  Policy Options

With its booming mining sector, Canada could help sub-Saharan Africa transform its mineral-resource wealth into a social and competitive advantage.

Commission launches new online portal to support responsible sourcing in businesses | 20 November 2019 | European Commission

Today, the European Commission is launching Due Diligence Ready!, an online portal that provides businesses with guidance on how to check the sources of the metals and minerals entering their supply chains – the so-called “due diligence” process. It will help them ensure that their use of raw materials respects human rights while improving transparency and accountability across their value chains.

Why we are calling on the EU to make tackling abuses in supply chains mandatory | 14 November 2019 | Anti-Slavery International | Thomson Reuters Foundation

Voluntary corporate social responsibility initiatives have failed to protect people from modern slavery. It’s time to change it. When we buy and use every-day products, food, clothes or electronics, we should not worry that they could be implicated in modern slavery. However, currently there is no way of knowing whether they are, or, rather more shockingly, it is quite likely that they can be.

The uncertain fate of business and human rights | 12 November 2019 | OpenDemocracy

When the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) were unanimously endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011, they gave birth to a new field of endeavour that aims to confront, diminish, and eliminate business-related conduct that violates or otherwise harms human rights. Eight years on, the Intergovernmental Working Group has published a revised draft of an international treaty on business and human rights. The advancing discussions on a binding international treaty reflect how far this field has come in such a short time. More than 50 countries now have emerging or established national action plans on business and human rights. Dozens of organisations and initiatives have been established to monitor, advise, or promote respect for human rights in business, and an expanding pool of companies now publicly disclose how they manage their human rights impact. Yet, with all of the momentum and apparent buy-in, the fate of business and human rights remains decidedly uncertain.

United Nations Takes Another Step in Developing a Treaty on Business and Human Rights | 5 November 2019 | Littler Mendelson

Since it was established in 2014, a United Nations Inter-Governmental Working Group (“IGWG”) has met annually to develop a multilateral treaty to attempt to hold businesses legally accountable for harms that may be related to their global operations (the “Proposed Treaty”). Littler Mendelson attorneys have provided testimony at all of these sessions.1 The IGWG held its most recent session from October 14-18, 2019, during which certain member States of the United Nations (“States”) and other stakeholders discussed a “Revised Draft” of the Proposed Treaty.2 This Revised Draft is the second full draft of the Proposed Treaty that the IGWG has produced.

A UN treaty on business and human rights is vital for economic and social justice | 5 November 2019 | Equal Times

The global economic model has failed working people. The power and greed of huge corporations have captured governments, which are acting against the rights and interests of their own workers.

Ethique, environnement, traçabilité : un casse-tête pour les groupes miniers | 4 November 2019 | Les Echos

La pression de l’opinion publique et des investisseurs poussent les acteurs à respecter des normes éthiques. Une société allemande développe depuis quatre ans un outil de certification. En 2023, la Bourse des métaux de Londres imposera pour la première fois à ses utilisateurs des critères d’approvisionnement responsables.


India Turning a Blind Eye to Smuggled Gold | 27 November 2019 | IMPACT

IMPACT’s new report reveals India to be one of the largest gold smuggling hubs in the world. As a result, gold that is tied to conflict, human rights abuses, and corruption in Africa and South America is entering legal international markets through India.

South Sudan Rebels, Government Trade in Illegal Timber Sales | 26 November 2019 |  Voice of America

A United Nations report accuses South Sudanese rebel and government military commanders of illegally logging and selling teak and mahogany trees in the former Central Equatoria and Eastern Equatoria States. A rebel spokesman denies the allegation, while a spokesperson for the South Sudan Peoples Defense Forces declined to comment.

Why cutting off artisanal miners is not responsible sourcing | 26 November 2019 | Global Witness (Blog)

Artisanal mining gets a lot of bad press. It is often demonised as a sector rife with human rights abuses, child labour and environmental destruction. Companies have sometimes disengaged with artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) suppliers as a kneejerk reaction to calls for more responsible sourcing practices. However, those thinking that this is a solution are labouring under a misapprehension.

Sudan militia leader grew rich by selling gold | 26 November 2019 |  Reuters

Late last year, as President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s hold on power weakened, one of Sudan’s most feared militia leaders lashed out against the government of his long-time ally and benefactor. Now a Reuters investigation has found that even as Hemedti was accusing Bashir’s people of enriching themselves at the public’s expense, a company that Hemedti’s family owns was flying gold bars worth millions of dollars to Dubai.

Interconnected supply chains: a comprehensive look at due diligence challenges and opportunities sourcing cobalt and copper from the Democratic Republic of the Congo | 15 November 2019 | OECD

This OECD report examines risks prevalent in cobalt and copper sourcing from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as strategies for building more responsible mineral supply chains. The report highlights often-overlooked links in the supply chain, challenging assumptions that industrial and artisanal mining and refining are entirely distinct.

To save wildlife, African governments turn to private management | 12 November 2019 | National Geographic

The headquarters at Zakouma National Park, in southeastern Chad, is a sand-colored structure with a crenellated parapet that gives it the look of an old desert fortress. Outside the door to the central control room on the second floor hangs an image of a Kalashnikov rifle, circled in red, with a slash: No weapons allowed inside. Kalashnikovs are ubiquitous in Zakouma. All the rangers carry them. So do the intruders who come to kill wildlife.

In Kimberley, the world’s diamond capital, illicit mining fight flounders | 11 November 2019 | Reuters

The first South African project to bring illegal miners into the formal fold has been plagued by violence in diamond capital Kimberley, dealing a major blow to national efforts to stem a booming illicit trade.

Malawi losing millions of dollars from illegal mining | 8 November 2019 |  The Southern Times

Malawi is losing millions of dollars from revenue it could have generated from its diverse mineral resource base through illegal mining by foreigners who have taken advantage of the absence of a legal framework to manage a modern mining industry.

Conflict Minerals in the Supply Chain | 5 November 2019 | Source Today

New report from the GAO reveals stagnant progress on the part of companies when it comes to identifying the presence of conflict minerals in their supply chains.

Governance of Africa’s mineral resources | 29 October 2019 | Herbert Smith Freehills LL

The African continent is endowed with abundant natural resources, including about thirty per cent of the world’s mineral reserves. Historically, however, most resource-rich African countries have been categorized as low income countries. In fact, analysts have observed a negative impact of resource abundance—particularly mineral resources—on long-term economic growth.

Diamonds hold promise for a better future for Africa, WDC President tells Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi | 25 October 2019 | Diamond World

Diamond-producing countries on the African continent received about $8.1 billion, or 9.5 percent of the $85.9 billion worth of revenues generated by diamond jewelry in 2018, and some still may consider that an insufficient share, said World Diamond Council (WDC) President Stephane Fischler

Industrial-scale bloodshed: from diamonds to oil | 18 October 2019 | Asia Times

For a very long time the diamond business was considered one of the bloodiest industries in the world. It caused various civil wars in Africa, murdered thousands if not millions of people, and left the Central African Republic in ruins. In order to stop the massacre or at least try to reduce it, the United Nations started the Kimberley Process (KP) that imposes extensive requirements on its members to enable them to certify shipments of rough diamonds as “conflict-free” and prevent conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate trade.

Congo mine deploys digital weapons in fight against conflict minerals | 1 October 2019 | Reuters | Mining Weekly

In a small shack overlooking muddy pits hewn out of eastern Congo’s rolling green hills, a government official puts a barcoded tag on a sack of ore rich in tantalum, a rare metal widely used in smartphones.

US-funded clean minerals project raises concerns in Congo | 27 September 2019 | Reuters | Mining Weekly

Democratic Republic of Congo plans to look into potential conflicts of interest in a US-funded project to certify mines that produce minerals such as gold and tin responsibly, a Congolese official told Reuters.

DRC mining sector’s disclosures becoming more transparent | 6 September 2019 | Mining Review Africa

The Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) has made headway in ensuring improved transparency in the DRC since the country first joined the EITI over a decade ago in 2007. Chantelle Kotze spoke to EITI Africa director Bady Baldé and DRC country manager Indra Thévoz about the country’s progress towards improved transparency.

Responsible sourcing of gemstones to receive more attention | 20 June 2019 | Mining Weekly

Responsible sourcing of coloured gemstones will receive ever-increasing attention and become progressively more important to consumers, predicts Gemfields and Kagem Mining CEO Sean Gilbertson.


Burundi receives new armoured vehicles for Amisom operations | 7 November 2019 | DefenceWeb

Burundi’s contingent serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) has taken delivery of a fleet of new armoured personnel carriers (APCs) for operations in Somalia. These include Springbuck HD and Fahd APCs.

14 hommes armés tués et 11 fusils d’assaut saisis à Musigati | 23 October 2019 | iwacu

Selon la police burundaise, les affrontements survenus à l’aube de ce mardi 22 octobre 2019 à Muyange en commune Musigati de la province Bubanza (nord-ouest du Burundi) entre les Forces de l’ordre et un groupe d’hommes armés s’est soldé par le démantèlement de ce dernier.


Russian mercenaries fight shadowy battle in gas-rich Mozambique | 29 November 2019 |  CNN

A deployment of Russian guns-for-hire, with links to the Kremlin, has sustained casualties in its fight against Islamist militants in Mozambique, multiple sources have told CNN. In another example of Russia’s growing reach into Africa, dozens of private military contractors are aiding the Mozambique army which is battling an insurgency in its northernmost province.

Appeals judges uphold sentence for Congolese ex-vice president Bemba | 27 November 2019 |  Reuters

Appeals judges at the International Criminal Court on Wednesday upheld a 12-month sentence and a fine of 300,000 euros ($330,000) for Jean-Pierre Bemba, former vice-president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, for witness tampering.

Murder by translation | 26 November 2019 |  Tortoise Media

Two UN investigators were killed in cold blood in 2017, their deaths filmed and shared online. Nearly three years later, their killers remain at large.

How jihadists struck gold in Africa’s Sahel | 22 November 2019 |  Reuters

As al Qaeda and Islamic State expand in Africa, hundreds of gold mines are bringing a billion-dollar trade within their reach.

Joseph Kony : un documentaire révèle les intérêts cachés des États-Unis derrière la vidéo ultra-virale de 2012 | 19 November 2019 | Jeune Afrique

En 2012, une vidéo virale de l’ONG Invisible Children – plus de 100 millions de vues en six jours – appelait à l’arrestation du chef de guerre ougandais Joseph Kony. Sept ans après, un documentaire revient sur cette campagne controversée qui masquait en fait une “croisade américaine” en Afrique centrale.

Action plan signed to end sexual violence in DR Congo | 11 November 2019 |  Devdiscourse

United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Interior, Security and Congolese Customary Affairs signed recently an action plan of the Congolese National Police (PNC) to fight against sexual violence.

The threats to Africa’s stability and security | 11 November 2019 |   CIO East Africa

Africa is hurtling towards an uncertain future that is being shaped by the forces of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Although its too early to tell how exactly the confluence of rapid change and exponential technological advances will play out, this much is clear: change will be constant and widespread.

Congo army kills leader of splinter Hutu militia group | 10 November 2019 | Thomson Reuters Foundation

Congolese forces have killed the leader of an offshoot of a Hutu militia in the restive east of the country, the army said on Sunday, two months after killing the leader of the main faction.

Why Tanzania’s Trajectory On Civil Liberties Is a Talking Point | 10 November 2019 | The Citizen |

The fact that two international organisations had to launch their reports about Tanzania’s human rights situation from a neighbouring country speaks volumes of the seesaw relations between authorities and the civil society. A suspicious reltionship, analysts think may complicate efforts to transform Tanzania for the better – politically, socially and also economically.

Bosco Ntaganda sentenced to 30 years for crimes in DR Congo | 7 November 2019 | BBC News

DRC warlord Bosco Ntaganda gets 30 years for war crimes | 7 November 2019 | The Guardian

A former Congolese rebel leader has been sentenced to 30 years for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Bosco Ntaganda, nicknamed “Terminator”, was convicted on 18 counts including murder, rape, sexual slavery and using child soldiers.

Step up action to protect the planet during wartime: UN environment chief | 6 November 2019 | UN News

Greater action is needed to protect the environment during wartime if the world is to realize the goal of a more sustainable future for all people and the planet, the head of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) warned on Wednesday.

RDC : un rapport de l’ONU propose un retrait des Casques bleus sur trois ans | 6 November 2019 | Jeune Afrique

Alors que l’ONU est présente militairement en République démocratique du Congo (RDC) depuis une vingtaine d’années, les Casques bleus pourraient être retirés progressivement sur trois ans, sous condition pour les autorités de respecter plusieurs paramètres, propose un rapport onusien remis récemment au Conseil de sécurité.

Leaked report shows UN botched sexual abuse investigation after years of allegations | 2 November 2019 | Business Insider

The United Nations botched its investigation into accusations of sexual abuse in Central African Republic, letting down victims, according to a draft report.

Despite other rich resources, South Sudan’s oil may fuel war | 1 November 2019 |

South Sudan oil has been fueling conflict in the country as oil revenues have been used to fund war, according to one of the country’s top political analysts. “The government use oil money to buy arms,” James Okuk of Juba University told Anadolu Agency in the country’s capital, Juba.