The Gleason Report: Prevention Workers-Blood Diamonds

Josh Kapelman Madeline Luce Elizabeth Landers


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Interview Participants
I’m Josh Kapelman.
I’m Elizabeth Landers.
And I’m Madeline Luce.
And this is the Gleason Report.
Since Leo DiCaprio stole our hearts in the 2006 blockbuster hit Blood Diamond, the issue of conflict diamonds in Sierra Leone has come to the global conscience. But how does the conflict look now? On September 14th the UN announced that it would extend for another year its peace building office on the ground in Sierra Leone.
Peace-building and conflict prevention began in 2000 when a group of 75 nations came together to create an international statute called the Kimberley Process. This laid the groundwork that would certify if a diamond was conflict-free and thus suitable to be sold on the world market. But just how much can the UN do to enforce this loosely grounded agreement?
One of the propositions we will suggest to prevention workers in the next several minutes is to change the institutional structure of the Kimberley Process in order to establish the certification scheme. Now to Madeline.
I’m here with Nelson, a prevention worker on the ground in Sierra Leone. What is your daily life like as a prevention worker and what kind of work are you doing in Sierra Leone?
My organization works trying to creating alternative jobs and bringing awareness to the human rights violations and the failures of the Kimberley Process.
How do you feel that the Kimberley Process is serving the people of Sierra Leone and how has it affected you personally?
The Kimberley Process is supposed to protect the interests of the citizens on the ground, but it has not stopped all of the problems associated with conflict diamond. Our organization works to empower the young citizen of Sierra and give them the necessary skills to get a good job
and to be integrated into the society so that they do not turn to opportunities created by conflict diamond as source of income and livelihood.
Thanks Madeline. Now to Josh at the United Nations.
I’m here right now with Christine Clement from Global Witness. someone who is working to reform the Kimberley process. Christine, thank you so much for meeting with us. I know your time is busy and I know you’re out there in Sierra Leone working on the ground and working hard. A lot of people say the Kimberley Process simply isn’t working.
Well Josh, there are three main areas that the Kimberley Process needs to work on: human rights, independent technical capacity, and decision making. Breaking the links between diamonds and human rights abuses was one of the founding principles of the Kimberley process. However, many prevention workers argue that human rights falls outside the KP’s purview.
Secondly Josh, despite the fact that the Kimberley Process has 75 country members, there is no permanent structure, funding, or central repository of knowledge. There is a lack of continuity between its rotating chairmanships, which rotates every single year which has led to insufficient monitoring and slow response to crisis situations.
The process doesn’t have the capacity to consistently and effectively follow up on issues. It needs a professional independent body to support administrative matters, monitoring, and statistical and legal analysis. I personally am committed to doing what needs to be done to ensure the prevention workers on the ground have the ability to actually end the trade of conflict diamonds.
We really appreciate you’re doing that. Thank you so much for appearing here on the Gleason Report.
There is definitely a lot that needs to change in order for prevention workers to do a better job.
In my opinion, I think it’s crucial that the Kimberley process has more discipline and a permanent headquarters, and authoritative structure. That’s the only way prevention workers will be able to do a better a job because they can’t be expected to do their jobs properly without those things.
The fact of the matter is that the Kimberley Process failed to prevent in the trade of conflict diamonds in the Côte d’Ivoire while KP chairman Mathieu Yamba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo urged countries simply to exercise strong vigilance against Côte d’Ivoire diamonds. I think it’s just too little, too late.
Yeah I agree. Unless something changes, another diamond-driven civil war is just around the corner. The Kimberley Process isn’t working, and it’s time that it’s changed.
Well, it’s an interesting point of course because diamonds alone don’t cause conflict, but the presence of a loot-able resource can certainly fuel the conflict. On our next segment we’ll be talking to Bono. Stay tuned.
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