India vows to shun ‘blood diamonds’

Mumbai,  India on Monday assured the global community that it would reject ‘blood diamonds’ stained by even a single conflict, and would actively help in the evolution and transformation of the Kimberley Process (KP), transiting from ‘conflict diamonds’ to ‘peace diamonds’.

“Even a single conflict diamond is one too many,” India’s Director-General of Foreign Trade Alok Vardhan Chaturvedi said at the inaugural of the prestigious Kimberley Process Intersessional Meeting-2019 here on Monday.

He said that the 4Cs (Cut, Clarity, Colour and Carat) of diamonds may soon be expanded to 5Cs, the fifth being “Conflict-Free”. Similarly, in the 5Ps of diamond marketing (Precious, Popular, Prestige, Priceless), the fifth would represent “Peace Diamonds”, he added.

The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) meet is an annual mid-year event which unites administrations, civil societies and the diamond industry in efforts to reduce the flow of ‘conflict diamonds’ used to fund wars against governments globally.

India is the KP chair this year and hosted the five-day KPCS meet in which around 82 countries are participating, including the World Diamond Council President Stephane Fischler and Coordinator of the KP Civil Society Coalition Shamiso Mtisi.

Chaturvedi said that the so-called ‘blood’ or ‘conflict diamonds’ have been almost completely eradicated from global trade as each rough product (diamond) carries a certificate confirming its ‘non-conflict’ origin, besides rigorous export-import procedures in most countries.

In this context, he referred to the global diamond industry welcoming the adoption of the United Nations General Assembly resolution of March 1, 2019, calling for strengthening the KP to more effectively sever the link between illicit transactions of diamonds and conflicts.

“As KP Chair, India would work with governments, international diamond industry and civil society to building consensus and strengthening KP, help create a clear and concise Core Document, enhance KP standards and modalities with peer review mechanism, raise level of representation and participation, improve the gathering and flow of essential data, among other key goals,” Chaturvedi said.

The murky world of conflict diamonds was vividly tackled in the Hollywood political thriller “Blood Diamond” (2006), directed by Edward Zwick, and featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou and Jennifer Connelly.

Fischler said that 82 per cent of diamonds by volume and 95 per cent by value are extracted by industrial means and the rest by artisanal means, and called for ensuring that all diamond workers get a fair deal.

Urging expansion of the definition of goods which finance rebellion, he asked the conference whether the member-countries were doing all they could to prevent the drivers of future conflict and rebellion.

Seeking expanded scope for KP, Mtisi pointed out that diamonds have the potential be a “positive driver” of development, but that can be achieved only under the right conditions.

While innovative tools can be adopted by the KP to deal with violent situations, he said that the KP is the “last chance” to set things right awhere diamonds involve violence and affect sustainability.

Chaturvedi said that the KP has improved lives of most people dependent on the industry.

“The importance of KPCS is immense to India with over one million people directly employed by the industry and with diamond exports amounting to over $24 billion”, he said.

“India is committed to make it stronger in terms of inclusiveness, strengthened administration and implementation, efficiency in delivery, transparent and empathetic approach towards lives of the people” engaged in production, trade and manufacture of diamonds,” added.

As the largest manufacture centre and major importer of rough diamonds, India is placed uniquely between producers of rough diamonds and consumers of cut and polished diamonds.

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