Property Rights Shift Conflict Diamonds to Kimberley Process Certification

Côte d’Ivoire emerged from a decade-long civil war in early 2011, but its diamonds—which played a role in sustaining the conflict—have remained on the world’s black lists. In November 2013, however, the Kimberley Process (KP) Plenary in Johannesburg recognized that Cote d’Ivoire had met minimum requirements of the KP Certification Scheme, the international mechanism to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the world’s markets. The KP’s decision was the culmination of several years’ efforts to restore good governance in the Ivorian diamond sector, and paves the way for the lifting of the U.N. embargo in place since 2005.

USAID has played a catalyzing role in Côte d’Ivoire’s road to compliance. In late 2012, when the United States was the KP Chair, the Ivoirian government requested technical assistance. As part of the Property Rights and Artisanal Diamond Development (PRADD) project, USAID deployed a technical adviser in March 2013 who worked with the Ivorians to conceive and launch their mine-to-export system of internal controls. In a period of six months, procedures were developed, dozens of new customs and mining regulations enacted, and thousands of miners registered. A review mission sent by the KP in September assessed this system, and based on their final report, the KP made its decision.

In his remarks at the KP Plenary, Ivoirian Mining Minister Jean-Claude Brou expressed thanks to those countries, including the United States, who assisted Côte d’Ivoire in becoming compliant. He noted that compliance was not an end in itself, but a key step in the long-term goal of ensuring that mineral resources benefit the country and the mining communities. The KP Permanent Secretary Fatimata Thes echoed these sentiments, calling the technical assistance invaluable.

“A year ago, Côte d’Ivoire was still a diamond trouble spot,” said Terah U. DeJong, the technical adviser, who is now Country Director of the Property Rights and Artisanal Diamond Development (PRADD II) project that recently launched in Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea. “Today countries in the region are looking at Côte d’Ivoire’s system as a model, and this is due in part to how the government was able to integrate best practices and lessons learned from PRADD’s earlier work. The challenge now is to build on that foundation and make it last.”

USAID’s PRADD II, which is co-funded by the European Union in Côte d’Ivoire, will combine property rights strengthening with other activities aimed at boosting the legal value chain and bringing benefits to mining communities.