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Blom Urges KP to Define Systemic Violence

Lack of agreement is stalling war on conflict diamonds, WFDB argues.
Jul 29, 2019 9:28 AM   By Leah Meirovich
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RAPAPORT... The war on conflict diamonds will remain at a standstill until the industry can agree on what constitutes systemic violence, according to World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) president Ernie Blom.

The lack of agreement on the matter is preventing African producing nations from accepting a broadened definition of conflict stones, as they fear it might fuel unfair treatment against them, Blom told Rapaport News.

Many retailers decide whether to stock goods from particular countries based on media reports, without checking the facts for themselves, Blom noted. That sometimes results in companies wrongly boycotting nations, he argued. Those countries are concerned such a boycott will get worse if the Kimberley Process (KP) approves the wider definition of conflict diamonds for which the World Diamond Council (WDC) has been lobbying, Blom continued. The solution is for the KP to introduce a procedure for determining whether systemic violence has occurred, he explained.

The WDC, which represents the industry at the KP, wants to define conflict diamonds as stones “acquired through systemic and widespread violence, forced labor, the worst forms of child labor, or through violations of international humanitarian law.” That definition would build on the current wording, which only refers to rough diamonds used by armed groups to acquire wealth through illegal actions, and fails to address violence by governments or other entities.

The group proposed the new definition during the KP’s two-year review period, which will come to an end at the KP annual plenary meeting in New Delhi, India, in November. 

However, adopting the new definition requires a unanimous decision by all KP member states, and some are hesitant to do so, Blom stressed.

The “elephant in the room” is that there are currently no rules determining what violence qualifies as “systemic” or assessing objectively whether such incidents have taken place, he added.

“The reason [it has taken so long and there is still no final decision] is obviously related to a fear within several African diamond-producing countries that a new rule may affect them,” he explained. “These countries today already are confronted with decisions of large corporations like Tiffany and Blue Nile…that they will not purchase any diamonds anymore from certain countries, and this whilst there is actually no rule which prohibits this.”

Instead, the KP must have parameters that help distinguish between unconfirmed media reports and verified facts, thereby encouraging progress in the effort to update the conflict-diamond definition, Blom stressed.

“If such can be done, I am personally convinced that that will be the way out for several African diamond-producing countries to agree with the broadening of the definition,” he concluded.

Image: Ernie Blom. (Laurent Boeki)
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Tags: Blom, Blue Nile, Conflict-Diamond, Ernie Blom, Kimberley Process, KP, Leah Meirovich, Rapaport News, Tiffany, WDC, WFDB, World Diamond Council, World Federation of Diamond Bourses
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