Diamonds are a commodity, and a potentially valuable one at that. As such, they can be bought, sold, and traded as any other commodity. Those countries that have significant diamond deposits have the potential to use the revenue that such deposits bring to enhance the lives of their people in any number of beneficial ways. Unfortunately, diamonds can also be stolen or smuggled, with the funds arising used, not for the common good, but for the maintenance of criminal activity, such as money laundering or the purchase of arms. Thus the funds which could represent a potential windfall for diamond-rich countries have in the past all too often contributed to instability. This instability can have not only an internal impact, but can also affect regional stability and security, with knock-on effects for the international community.
The international community's response to the challenge of 'conflict diamonds' is known as the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) and has developed over the last six years. It formally came into force in January 2003, and now covers 99% of rough diamond producers and traders worldwide.
The KPCS incorporates two main principles. First, each participant agrees that no export from or import into its territory is allowed unless a Kimberley Process certificate issued by the exporting government, and attesting that the goods had been handled in accordance with the KPCS, accompanies the consignment of rough diamonds. Second, each participant agrees that it will not trade in rough diamonds with non-participants.
The Government Diamond Office (GDO) which is apart of Foreign and Commonwealth Office, is responsible for implementing the KP in the United Kingdom. To this end, we work closely with HM Revenue & Customs, the diamond industry, and civil society groups to ensure that the requirements of the KP are met.