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Best Practice Principles – 10 years on

The Best Practice Principles, a set of ethical standards developed by De Beers to promote the highest business conduct in the diamond pipeline, have reached a 10-year milestone.

Sorting rough diamonds at the DTC Botswana diamond facility

The aim of the BPPs is to ensure that consumers buying diamond jewellery can rely on the professional, ethical and technical standards of the gem diamond industry. They help to prevent unacceptable business, environmental and social practices.

Around 370,000 people in the diamond industry, from Sightholders and Accredited Buyers to contractors engaged in diamond-related activities such as cutting, polishing and jewellery manufacture, are now covered by the Principles – including about 20,000 De Beers employees.

The BPPs were conceived in 2003, and a presentation was made to Sightholders in January 2004, followed by training sessions in India and London. Then came the official unveiling in 2005.

Feriel Zerouki, Head of Government and Industry Relations at De Beers, said: “The BPP initiative was the first of its kind in the diamond industry and represented a big change. They have been well received by people throughout the diamond pipeline because they can see the value and relevance to their businesses.”

She said the BPPs were part of De Beers’ commitment to protecting the reputation and integrity of diamonds, and followed the establishment of the Kimberley Process, which was the industry’s response to ‘conflict diamonds’.

The BPPs require compliance with law in all areas, as well as further requirements on anti-corruption and anti-money laundering, health and safety, labour standards and the environment. Compliance is checked each year by a reputable third party verifier, Société Générale de Surveillance.

 “It is almost unthinkable for anyone in the diamond chain not to abide by the BPPs,” Feriel added. “De Beers has set the standards and we help everyone keep to them – and we are ever vigilant about keeping to them ourselves. They are still as important as they ever were, and they have become even stricter.”

In 2014, the BPPs built in additional requirements to continue raising industry standards and reinforce the commitment to responsible business practices.

Health and safety, environmental and disclosure provisions were enhanced, and a new section on sourcing from artisanal and small-scale mining was introduced.

The main focus of the evolution was, however, in the social sphere, reinforcing De Beers’ commitment to supporting human rights and observing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

All who have signed up to the BPPs must also assess the risk of human trafficking within companies as well as from direct suppliers and through recruitment agencies.

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