Over the past few months, shocking events have occurred that demonstrate the flaws in the international system to keep conflict diamonds off the market. We are writing to share some news you may not have heard, and to ask that you take a moment to help put a stop to outrageous human rights abuses that have taken place in Zimbabwe.
The Kimberley Process is the international certification scheme intended to combat the problem of conflict diamonds. Established in 2003, the Kimberley Process is supposed to ensure that diamond mining does not contribute to war, oppression, and suffering. Certification by the Kimberly Process adds the international community's "stamp of approval" to a diamond's origins and opens the door to the global marketplace.
The Kimberley Process is currently certifying Zimbabwean diamonds as "conflict-free" despite clear evidence that mining for the gemstones has led to serious human rights abuses. As we shared on our blog, the Zimbabwean military under President Robert Mugabe has seized control of the country's diamond mines and has used forced labor, murder, and torture to keep production going. The profits from these diamonds are helping Mugabe's authoritarian regime continue, and rough gems are being exchanged directly for arms that go to supply Mugabe's military.
The Kimberley Process has shown that it is unwilling to take action and continues to certify Zimbabwean diamonds. Meanwhile, the diamond industry continues to back the Kimberley Process. Recently, industry veteran Martin Rapaport resigned from the World Diamond Council, a diamond industry trade group, in protest over how the industry has turned a blind eye to human rights abuses in Zimbabwe's diamond fields. Even though Rapaport helped create the Kimberley Process, he lamented that it "has become a process for the systematic legalization and legitimization of blood diamonds."
When oversight systems break down, it is up to retailers and consumers to make their voices heard. Both should demand to know with certainty the origin of every diamond in the global supply chain and the conditions under which each and every diamond has been mined. At Brilliant Earth, we have been working since 2005 to build a more eco- and people-friendly model for the production of fine jewelry. Today, we ask that you join in our efforts.
Please sign our petition demanding complete reform of the Kimberly Process. The Kimberley Process must broaden its mandate to sufficiently address human rights abuses in the diamond trade. Most importantly, it should incorporate worker exploitation, violence, child labor, and environmental destruction.
Please take a second to forward this petition to friends, family, and anyone considering the purchase of a diamond.
Co-founder of Brilliant Earth