The film “Blood diamond” has brought problems around gross human rights violations related to the diamond trade to the attention of a worldwide public. The Kimberly process is a procedure invented to prevent these atrocities. It is based on the principle of a “tripartite” governance system, whereby corporate, government and civil actors collaborate in the certification of diamonds before export to ensure that they are “conflict-free”. One of the weaknesses of this system is that it depends on the voluntary agreement of the diamond exporting government. This poses a problem in the case of authoritarian regimes such as Zimbabwe, which is the focus of this article. The Kimberly Process is limited by its mandate which defines conflict diamonds as those “rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance conflict (..)”. Moreover in the diamond world, emerging powers are challenging the rules and becoming more influential.
While the KP relies in the cooperation between three types of actors, this case-study describes the dynamics at play in the relation between the actors in Zimbabwe : the government (divergent positions and power-play between the two ruling parties in the current transitional government, the Zanu-PF and the MDC ; Corporations (ACR, Mbada, Canadile and Unki) and Civil society (Centre for Research and Development, ZLHR, HRW Zimbbabwe, etc)
Each of these actors has their own narrative that justifies their position and actions. This section seeks to describe what this narrative exist of. Zanu-PF presents a neo-colonial narrative where it is the victim of imperialist forces that want to “protect their own kin” and “assume the reigns of power”. Civil society uses a Human rights discourse insisting on the universality of rights Corporations insist on laws and property rights, on written rules. The Kimberly process does not present one clear narrative. As a membership organisation, it has to deal with contradictions among above mentioned approaches within its organisation.
This case-study combines the observations from an outsider, sociologist interested in the the political responsibility of corporations in the context of authoritarian regimes and the impact of natural resources on State-society relations and the observations from a Zimbabwean political activist with better access to the field.