Broader Definition of ‘Conflict Diamonds’
- 24 Apr 2019
- 4 min read
India is concerned over widening of definition of ‘conflict diamonds’ under the Kimberley Process, as suggested by developed countries such as the US and Canada.
- The proposal is to include human right abuses and child labour issues. This may end up as a non-tariff barrier for developing countries.
- A nontariff barrier is a trade restriction, such as a quota, embargo or sanction, that countries use to further their political and economic goals.
- Countries commonly use nontariff barriers in international trade.
- Nontariff barriers often release countries from paying added tax on imported goods and create other barriers that have a meaningful yet different monetary impact.
- Countries can use nontariff barriers in place of, or in conjunction with, standard tariff barriers.
- While the concerns are largely based on reports of human rights abuses in the diamond fields of Zimbabwe and Angola which includes killing of villagers.
- India is afraid that once the exercise of broadening the definition of conflict diamond begins, many other issues could get incorporated and a lot of subjectivity may flow in.
- This becomes more important since India is the world’s largest centre for cut and polished diamonds and accounts for 75% of the world’s polished diamonds exports.
- The sector is labour-intensive and employs over 4.64 million workers, which is expected to go up to 8.23 million by 2022.
- India is against human rights abuse and labour law violations, but there are other agencies including the UN Human Rights Commission and the International Labour Organization (ILO) to address them.
- The Kimberly Process was never meant to address such issues. While countries like Zimbabwe and Angola need to be checked, India and some other developing countries engaged in peaceful trade should not be at the receiving end.
- Over the last couple of years, a number of members including Canada, the EU and the US have been complaining that the Kimberley process addresses a very narrow band of issues and ignores the rest.
- Thereby, Canada, in last year’s plenary meeting in Brussels, put forward a proposal to expand the definition of conflict diamonds to include rough diamonds used by public security forces or private (including criminal or mercenary) armed groups to acquire wealth through the illegal control, bribery, taxation, extortion or dispossession of people.
- India is the chair of the Kimberley System Certification Scheme (KPCS) for the year 2019, and will have to mobilise other developing countries such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Brazil and Vietnam to oppose unintended barriers to trade.