, Volume 91, Number 5

Lauren Bruffaerts
Diamonds are forever. But what of the definition of conflict diamonds used by the Kimberley Process (KP)? Despite the fact that civil society has raised attention to the cloudy issue of state-perpetrated diamond-related human rights abuses throughout the past decade, the continued longevity of the central definition around which the Kimberley Process revolves still appears to be a crystal-clear fact. As it turns out, calls to broaden the scope of the conflict diamond definition have not been successful because several discourse manipulations within the KP have had formative effects on other actors’ identities and interests. Discourse spacing—the strategic allocation of ‘appropriate’ spaces for certain discourses within a particular institutionalized setting—has been strategically employed in an attempt to place boundaries on the redefinition discourse. By claiming that addressing human rights abuses lies beyond the mandate of the KP, several KP participant states have sought to convince others that discussing redefinition has no place on the KP reform agenda. Discourse timing has also been key, where numerous African states’ perceptions of redefinition were influenced by accusations of neo-colonial intent on the part of western KP participant states that stemmed from a sanctions debate that was taking place parallel to the redefinition debate. The article finds that these two occurrences, alongside the KP’s consensus based decision-making structure and several KP participant states’ fears about setting a human rights precedent, have obstructed the road to the redefinition of conflict diamonds.

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