Do we need a Kimberley Process for the Illicit Antiquities Trade?

Mackenzie, S. (2015), ‘Do we need a Kimberley Process for the Illicit Antiquities Trade? Some lessons to learn from a comparative review of transnational crimeinal markets and their regulation’, in F. Desmarais ed. Countering Illicit Traffic in Cultural Goods: The Global Challenge of Protecting the World’s Heritage (Paris: ICOM).

Markets in illicit drugs, diamonds and wildlife have established and well-researched international systems of control. International systems of control are thought to be required where national regulation is insufficient. In relation to transnational criminal markets, this is a function of the international nature of supply-demand forces (Efrat 2009). is means that some level of jurisdictional coordination is needed to exert coherent control upon the trading system without either letting unrestrained demand continue to drive a market in which supply has been legally restricted (the classic alcohol ‘Prohibition era’ problem), or alternatively trying to manage consumer demand for illicit products which are relatively freely available due to a failure to adequately control their supply (which is one of the issues faced in international drug market control, as well as international trades in counterfeit and pirated goods).

On the national level, both of these problems of supply-only or demand-only controls can be aggravated by law enforcement resource constraints, political economy in the form of the general global movement in the direction of trade liberalization and the more specific differentiation in costs and benefits of illicit trade across producer, transit and consumer countries. In short, regulating transnational criminal markets solely on a national basis is very unlikely to be significantly effective. is explains the proliferation of international regulatory regimes which all, to a greater or lesser extent, attempt to bind countries together to fight these various forms of crime together. Some of these international regulatory regimes link import and export certification and require the licensing of dealers, for example the system of categorization for protected animal and plant species in the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the 2003 Kimberley Process Certifcation Scheme (KPCS) for diamonds. Some have tried innovative extra-judicial diversionary schemes, like income replacement initiatives for source producers of illicit commodities. Some exert what amounts to blanket prohibition of transactions involving the commodity.

In the following sections, we will engage in a necessarily restricted overview of some of the headline features of a number of transnational criminal markets in the context of both principle and practice, or to put it another way the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of the variety of international regulatory regimes to be addressed.