As the Kimberley Process (KP) concluded its annual Plenary on 22 November, the World Diamond Council issued a statement critical of the scope of the project.
Established in 2000, the KP is a trade body that aims to remove ‘conflict’ diamonds from the global supply chain through its Certification Scheme. Held in New Delhi, India, this year’s Plenary was attended by 55 delegates representing the KP’s 82 member countries.
At present, the KP claims to “actively prevent 99.8 per cent of the worldwide trade” in conflict diamonds through its Certification Scheme (KPCS).
Under the terms of the scheme, participant countries must: establish legislation, institutions and import/export controls on diamonds, commit to transparent practices and the exchange of data, trade only with fellow members who also satisfy the KP’s terms, and certify shipments of diamonds as conflict-free with supporting certification.
Currently, the Central African Republic is considered the only source of conflict diamonds under the KP’s definition. However, diamond exports are still permitted if they originate from ‘green zones’ within the country.
The 2019 Plenary agenda included a proposal to broaden the definition of ‘conflict’ diamond beyond the current interpretation, which is “[stones] directly linked to the fuelling of armed conflict, the activities of rebel movements aimed at undermining or overthrowing legitimate governments, and the illicit traffic in, and proliferation of, armaments, especially small arms and light weapons”.
The Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition – a group of non-government organisations, which is an official ‘Observer’ of the KP – recommended member countries recognise other forms of ‘conflict’, including sexual violence, torture, inhumane treatment and environmental crimes, and violence by people other than ‘rebels’.
Earlier this year, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution calling on the KP to widen its definition, however; delegates at the Plenary could not reach a consensus and the current definition was retained.
Stéphane Fischler, president of the World Diamond Council (WDC), called the lack of a decision a “missed opportunity”.
“While the KPCS continues to fulfil an important function, the failure of the political process to achieve consensus was a missed opportunity to enhance the effectiveness of this foundation stone of integrity in the diamond business,” he said, adding, “The KPCS has been an absolutely critical element in maintaining peace in producing countries through increased traceability of rough diamond trade, and we must redouble our efforts to strengthen its impact.”
Fischler also noted that the mining companies responsible for more than 90 per cent of the world’s natural diamond supply had already adopted compliance systems beyond the scope of the KPCS.
Despite the lack of consensus on the expanded definition, the Plenary’s Ad Hoc Committee on Review and Reform did discuss potential changes given the “evolving nature of conflict”.
The WDC also acknowledged progress made at the Plenary in regulating the artisanal and alluvial mining sector and the Central African Republic’s diamond exports.
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