Natural resources belong to local communities not to militias. Since 2003, the EU and international partners representing 99% of the world’s diamond trade have joined forces to make sure that the production and trade of rough diamonds contributes to peace and sustainable economic and human development. The Kimberley Process is a unique tool for conflict prevention and promotes sustainable development. Holding the rotating Chairmanship in 2018, the EU seeks to ensure that the Process remains fit for purpose in a changing context.
Through the Chairmanship this year and a number of projects on the ground the EU is working to prevent the trade in conflict diamonds and improve mining communities’ livelihoods. In 2018, the European Union holds the Chairmanship of the Kimberley Process, a global partnership bringing together governments, industry and civil society, the so-called tripartite structure, with the aim to eliminate the trade in conflict diamonds worldwide.
The EU has emphasised strengthening the tripartite structure, to reinforce the implementation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme internal controls, to place artisanal mining communities at the core of its work and to engage constructively with all Participants and Observers to move forward on the reform and review agenda.
This year’s plenary meeting of the Kimberley Process takes place in Brussels, Belgium from 12 – 16 November. At the plenary, participants will notably discuss the review and reform agenda as well as environmental challenges to artisanal and industrial mining.
Artisanal mining and environmental challenges at the core of the EU Chairmanship
Artisanal and small-scale diamond mining, often subsistence mining, constitutes 15% of the total world diamond production. At the same time, artisanal mining provides income for some 10 million workers and facilities in mining communities. When conducted in an informed and responsible way, artisanal and small-scale production has the potential of lifting miners out of poverty. The EU has placed artisanal mining communities at the core of its Chairmanship, including through capacity building, the promotion of the rule of law and valuation training.
In September 2018, a first Artisanal Diamond Mining Forum was jointly organised by the EU, and the Chair of the Kimberley Process Working Group on Artisanal and Alluvial Production, the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Livingstone, Zambia. Participants, including 30 artisanal miners and civil society, together with representatives from the tripartite structure underlined the potential of artisanal mining for poverty reduction and development. They also stressed the challenges of small-scale mining, including how to make sure that human rights are being ensured and the environment is being protected.
Environmental challenges related to diamond mining will be on the agenda at this year’s plenary of the Kimberley Process. On 13 November, during a special forum participants will discuss the environmental impact of on-shore and off-shore diamond mining in both the industrial and artisanal sectors as well as best practices seen from an industrial as well as from a public governance point of view.
The EU funds several projects under the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace with a focus on artisanal mining and supports regional cooperation in areas where artisanal diamond mining is common. In addition, the EU empowers key stakeholders from civil society globally to address their common concern of responsible sourcing through policy advice, capacity building and research support.
Promoting property rights and artisanal diamond development in Côte d’Ivoire
We are stronger when we work together. Hence EU’s unswerving support to the regional cooperation between the Mano River Union countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone) that face similar challenges to fully implement the Kimberley Process. The diamond trade in this region is alluvial and artisanal and is particularly prone to smuggling, given many mine sites are located in border areas.
In the town of Tortiya, Côte d’Ivoire diamond miners are turning to agriculture, as diamond deposits have been exhausted. Women, however, often lack access to fertile agricultural lands. To address the crucial obstacle to economic development and women’s empowerment, the Property Rights and Artisanal Diamond Development (PRADD) project in Côte d'Ivoire, co-funded by the EU and USAID, helps improve the livelihoods of small-scale mining communities and make diamonds effective tools for development.
Mrs. Silué Tiewa, President of the local Fotemowoban Women’s Group, said: “The land chief in Songholokaha [a neighboring village] gave us this big portion of land as our own to start whatever farming activities we wanted on it. He didn’t think that this land would be very useful since it is full of holes from mining activities, but it is perfect for rice and vegetable farming since we have year-round access to water”
Under the project, women have rehabilitated almost 8 hectares of old diamond mining land in 2015. In addition, 30 cooperatives received training on improved mining techniques for more precise diamond extraction. These mining techniques have also contributed to mitigate environmental and safety risks for miners and their communities.
Regional approach in West Africa addresses common challenges in alluvial and artisanal mining
The implementation of the Kimberley Process on the ground is more effective when countries facing similar challenges work together regionally. This is why the EU continues to support regional cooperation between the Mano River Union countries Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The trade in diamonds in this region is mostly alluvial and artisanal and is particularly prone to smuggling, given that many mine sites are located in border areas.
Under the Mano River Union Regional Approach project, several workshops took place to enhance regional collaboration, support stronger implementation of the Kimberley Process on the ground and address the issue of smuggling. The project has brought together national multi-stakeholder groups, such as governments, civil society and industries to find solutions to local problems arising in diamond mining areas. The four countries also receive targeted assistance, such as training on the mining cadastre system in Sierra Leone.
In October 2018, a regional workshop on “Implementing the Kimberley Process and Counter Diamond Smuggling in the Mano River Union” took place in Conakry, Guinea. The event brought together 54 participants from all four Mano River Union countries to exchange on the work of law enforcement agencies, including customs, anti-fraud brigades and border security authorities. Notably, the workshop provided training on investigation procedures within the area of diamond smuggling, and equipped law enforcement agencies with tools and methodologies to conduct effective checks on Kimberley Process certificates. Likewise, participants decided to strengthen the exchange of information among the four countries to counter cross-border smuggling.