DDI Chair calls for broader definition of conflict diamonds at special UN General Assembly meeting
The chair of Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) and founding member of the Kimberley Process Ian Smillie spoke at a special meeting on conflict diamonds held in New York on February 28, 2019, as part of the United Nations General Assembly’s 73rd Session. Mr. Smillie used the occasion to call on Kimberley Process members to adopt an expanded definition of conflict diamonds, in order to include reference to violence perpetrated by public and private security forces, extortion, bribery and dispossession, forced labour, child labour, and violations of international humanitarian law.
Mr. Smillie spoke as well about artisanally mined diamonds, produced in 18 countries of Africa and South America. These diamonds are important export earners and are a major sources of livelihoods for more than 1.5 million miners and the families they support. Typically, artisanal miners earn less than $2 a day and work under deplorable conditions, often illegally. Mr. Smillie said that these problems need to be fixed because they are real and they are serious. They also frustrate the Kimberley Process requirement for diamond traceability and they have become an advertising target for the producers of synthetic diamonds. The time has come, Mr. Smillie said, for the Kimberley Process as a whole, but especially for governments of artisanal diamond producing countries to take action on widening the scope of the Kimberley Process and to bring artisanal miners into the formal economy. The Maendeleo Diamond Standards, developed by DDI, offer one possibility in this direction.