Russia has thwarted a Western effort to have its crude diamonds labeled as “conflict diamonds”—thwarted it so effectively that the Russia-Ukraine war won’t even be discussed at a crucial meeting of diamond producers this week.
The phrase “conflict diamonds” refers to those that finance “violence by rebel movements and their allies seeking to undermine legitimate governments,” a definition outlined in its charter by the Kimberley Process, a global watchdog forum set up in 2003 to block the sales of conflict diamonds. The Kimberley Process includes 85 countries, as well as industry and civil-society bodies, and the specificity of its definition has felt problematic and arbitrary in the past. Diamonds mined by insurgent groups in Angola? Conflict diamonds. Diamonds mined by Zimbabwe, after the army seized a mine and killed 200 miners? Not conflict diamonds.
Ahead of the Process’ meeting in Botswana this week, several member countries—Ukraine, the EU, the US, the UK, Australia and Canada—suggested expanding the ambit of “conflict diamonds” to include violent state actors as well.