The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme Compliance…A Milestone, But...

By Gbe Sneh


The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

October 26, 2004

Just because it has been announced that Liberia is now KPCS compliant does not mean that a diamond rush is to be ushered in. The KPCS is deeper than a superficial paper, a cloak to conduct an unregulated diamond industry. There are provisions in the KPCS Preamble for participants' self-regulatory mechanisms to ensure among others, accountability and transparency. We need to move forward to set these up before we can truly jubilate. Presented below is the portion of the protocol that deals with the System of Internal Control:

Internal Controls
Undertakings by Participants
Each Participant should:
(a) establish a system of internal controls designed to eliminate the presence of conflict diamonds from shipments of rough diamonds imported into and exported from its territory;
(b) designate an Importing and an Exporting Authority(ies);
(c) ensure that rough diamonds are imported and exported in tamper resistant containers;
(d) as required, amend or enact appropriate laws or regulations to implement and enforce the Certification Scheme and to maintain dissuasive and proportional penalties for transgressions;
(e) collect and maintain relevant official production, import and export data, and collate and exchange such data in accordance with the provisions of Section V.
(f) when establishing a system of internal controls, take into account, where appropriate, the further options and recommendations for internal controls as elaborated in Annex II.

While the world body, through this protocol, intends the recommendation of these controls to foil trade in "conflict diamonds", it is in our best interest to adopt and apply same diligently to serve our purposes of achieving accountability and transparency in the industry. Topping a control scheme is the method of awarding concessions. In other words, a review of this process is in order, and any streamlining applied. We need not try to re-invent the wheel here. We can simply "cut and paste" into the control section of a National Mining Code the following from the KPCS Preamble, (the text in its entirety referenced at the bottom):

Recommendations for Control over Diamond Mines
9. Participants are encouraged to ensure that all diamond mines are licensed and to allow only those mines so licensed to mine diamonds.
10. Participants are encouraged to ensure that prospecting and mining companies maintain effective security standards to ensure that conflict diamonds do not contaminate legitimate production.

Recommendations for Participants with Small-scale Diamond Mining
11. All artisinal and informal diamond miners should be licensed and only those persons so licensed should be allowed to mine diamonds.
12. Licensing records should contain the following minimum information: name, address, nationality and/or residence status and the area of authorised diamond mining activity.
Recommendations for Rough Diamond Buyers, Sellers and Exporters
13. All diamond buyers, sellers, exporters, agents and courier companies involved in carrying rough diamonds should be registered and licensed by each Participant's relevant authorities.
14. Licensing records should contain the following minimum information: name, address and nationality and/or residence status.
15. All rough diamond buyers, sellers and exporters should be required by law to keep for a period of five years daily buying, selling or exporting records listing the names of buying or selling clients, their license number and the amount and value of diamonds sold, exported or purchased.
16. The information in paragraph 14 above should be entered into a computerised database, to facilitate the presentation of detailed information relating to the activities of individual rough diamond buyers and sellers.
Recommendations for Export Processes
17. A exporter should submit a rough diamond shipment to the relevant Exporting Authority.
18. The Exporting Authority is encouraged, prior to validating a Certificate, to require an exporter to provide a declaration that the rough diamonds being exported are not conflict diamonds.
19. Rough diamonds should be sealed in a tamper proof container together with the Certificate or a duly authenticated copy. The Exporting Authority should then transmit a detailed e-mail message to the relevant Importing Authority containing information on the carat weight, value, country of origin or provenance, importer and the serial number of the Certificate.
20. The Exporting Authority should record all details of rough diamond shipments on a computerised database.

The Ministry of Lands and Mines has just concluded a "five-day workshop", and at the heels of that, a proclamation poised to declare the mines open. The enthusiasm to do just that is oozing from these declarations–

(1)" However, the five daub workshop was said to have achieved it objectives, with several speakers applauding the Ministry of Lands Mines and energy of successfully organizing the program that to the overall benefit of the nation and its people."(See Analyst article referenced below)

"Achieved objectives"? What are they? In addition, have they been approved and signed into law?

(2) "Minister Willie, in the mean time, appealed to miners to transparently take responsibility in the alluvial mining sector. He assure miners of the will of the government not to interfere with the mining industry". (See Analyst article referenced

Where is the code that would read to these miners their rights and obligations under such document?
Moreover, here we have not even gone through the all too important step of revisiting the existing mining code in order to streamline the industry wherever possible, by getting input from the General Accounting Office and various NGO's that expressed concerns regarding this step. We have not yet put forth a revised code for the approval of the legislature, let alone a review and signing into law by the Chairman. Do not tell us that Rome was built in "five days". The process is a serious task that any rush would squash.

Let us not fall prone to "doing business as usual". Let us not keep deferring our chances to get things done the right way. Let us not get "antsy", or shall we say, "aabu", to plunge the industry back into the chaos that it has embodied at the hands of a corrupt few, to the detriment of the masses!

"The NTGL is funds-strapped". That is a chanting hymn of the administration. Now that we have a chance to alleviate this problem, through the efficient management of the diamond mining industry, which by several accounts is a top national revenue and employment source, let us not blow it. Let us do it right.

The Analyst article referenced below indicates that the Chairman and his Vice were not in attendance at the unveiling ceremonies of the KPCS compliance, and that implies lack of support for the milestone. The reason (s) for their absence will not be guessed here, but we do hope that they are withholding their jubilation in anticipation of a full implementation of the recommendations proposed by the protocol - the setup of an internal control mechanism.

What the adoption of these recommendations will do for us is the establishing of an audit trail, the reliance on which proper accounting for government revenues generated from the industry can be ascertained. What we do not want is a chaotic industry, where all one needs is a shovel and a pan to become a diamond miner, all leading to no accountable revenues for the government. Activities at the Sarpo National Park is a case in point, and who knows how many little creeks throughout the country are infested with illicit diamond miners. "Free for all" past mining practices are not what we want.

Regarding the lifting of UN sanctions on the Liberian diamonds industry, it is safe to say now that we have taken a giant step towards presenting our case. The NTGL, through its Ministry of Lands and Mines, and other agencies that may have been involved, has our commendations for reaching this milestone. Let us move forward now by formulating and adopting a National Mining Code to solidify our case This part of the entire certification process is of concern, not only to the UN and NGO's, but the people of Liberia as well. This concern addressed, the UN should have no justifiable reason not to grant our request to have the sanctions on diamonds lifted.

Bryant, Johnson Shy from Kimberley Process