The diamond industry and the governments that are members of the Kimberley Process are justifiably proud of the progress it has made in preventing diamond-fueled conflicts through the Kimberley Process. Most wars are over and the conflict in the Côte d’Ivoire is nearing the end, we hope. Because the Kimberley Process was designed to help prevent conflicts, the need for it continues.
But the Kimberley Process wasn’t designed to work to improve the root causes of instability in the chaotic artisanal diamond mining sector, a sector that is vulnerable to economic predators, prone to violence, and difficult to regulate.
To address this underlying challenge, the jewelry industry, governments, and developmental organizations have joined together to create the Diamond Development Initiative.
The Diamond Development Initiative focuses on artisanal diamond miners and their communities, seeking to improve understanding, promote policies, and find possible solutions to the challenges and issues they face every day.
DDI complements the Kimberley Process, by concentrating on issues outside its limited mandate, such as social and economic factors in artisanal mining, environmental concerns, labor issues, improving livelihoods, working conditions and human rights, and community beneficiation. DDI is also working with governments to assist in the formalization of artisanal mining for better natural resource governance.
WHY DDI MATTERS
The artisanal diamond miners of Africa and South America produce about 15 percent of the world’s gem diamonds a year. About 1.5 million people are involved in this work, making them—by population—one of the largest parts of our industry, supporting an estimated 15 million family and community members. Helping this sector will also have a tremendous impact on improving overall conditions in these mining countries.
Artisanal diamonds are as much a part of the diamond value chain as any other diamond. While the Kimberley Process helped douse the worst of the fires kindled by the conflict diamond issue, it hasn’t completely removed the public’s unease. Poverty, environmental degradation, and sub-standard and completely unsafe working conditions, including human rights abuses, are not what a consumer wants along with that something special that diamonds symbolize.