44 Trading Diamonds ResponsiblyInstitutional Explanations for Corporate Social Responsibility

Franziska Bieri and John Boli


Conflict or blood diamonds are “rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance armed conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments” (Kimberley Process Secretariat). Conflict diamonds have fueled calamitous civil wars in Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Côte D'Ivoire. For most of the 1990s, the conflict diamonds issue went unnoticed. In 1998–1999, however, parallel efforts by a few NGOs and the United Nations catapulted the issue onto the global stage. The result was the Kimberley Process, a series of negotiations involving states, NGOs, and industry but not the United Nations itself. With surprising speed, the KP generated the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) to regulate the diamond trade by certifying that diamonds are conflict-free. “Two and a half years is lightning speed by international negotiating standards” (Smillie). Although the road to success was by no means straight, the conflict diamonds campaign moved unusually quickly from raising concern about the problem to establishing a global mechanism to solve it.

At the heart of the campaign were accusations that De Beers and the Antwerp trading center bore culpability for the brutal civil wars fueled by the diamond trade. NGOs made these powerful actors aware of a new global social problem and redefined long-standing ...

Get The Globalization Reader, 5th Edition now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.