News Bureau

 
November 08, 2019

A watershed moment in the KP

By:  Stephane Fischler, WDC President

These are whirlwind days for those involved in the build-up to the Kimberley Process (KP) Plenary Meeting in New Delhi, India, which will open on November 18 and conclude November 22. With a range of critical issues as yet unsettled, participants are sharing and promoting last-minute positions, during bilateral meetings in different parts of the world and at a number of strategically scheduled conferences, attended by many of the key players. Those included the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi, Russia, toward the end of October, and the Diamond Conference in Gaborone, Botswana, where I currently am located.

The final minutes are on the clock for the KP’s three-year review and reform cycle, which began in 2016 and will end at the Plenary Meeting under the chairmanship of India. Some tough discussions will still be had, as difficult decisions need to be made – none more so than whether the scope of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme will be strengthened.

At the heart of the debate is the definition of what constitutes a conflict diamond. Currently, it is unchanged from that which existed when the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) was launched at the start of 2003.

This means that only diamonds whose proceeds are fueling the civil war against legitimate governments are targeted. Recognizing the outdated definition, the World Diamond Council (WDC), along with civil society and a number of government representatives, are insisting that it be amended to include instances of unacceptable violence in the supply chain during peacetime as well.

A number of proposals are on the table, among them one that was formulated by the WDC together with the Civil Society Coalition and tabled by the Government of Canada. Others have been proposed by Botswana and the Russian Federation. As I write, it is not yet clear which, if any of them, will be approved in New Delhi.

The tripartite coalition of the KP has been a remarkably successful scheme, bringing under its umbrella industry, human rights activists and governments, from both the developing and developed world. It has succeeded in enforcing tough policies largely because each and every one of them required buy-in from all voting members after every party was permitted to state its case. But will it be able to rise to the occasion once again, or will it be hamstrung by the KP members’ short-term political self-interest?

To paraphrase George Orwell, while all KP participants are equal, some are more equal than others. The WDC, as the industry representative, like civil society, is an observer in the process. While we are active on all committees and sub-committees, when the time comes to vote, only government members have the right to do so.

They alone will bear responsibility for what happens in New Delhi.

But that does not mean that we are passive players. For, while we do not have a final say on the future scope of KP certification, we most definitely are able to set responsible industry standards for the goods reaching the market.

The new WDC System of Warranties (SoW), which applies to all rough and polished diamonds handled by the trade, requires a commitment by companies to adhere to WDC Guidelines. These go beyond the KP’s currently limited conflict diamonds definition, expressly referencing international conventions relating to human and labour rights, anti-corruption and anti-money laundering (AML).

The question is whether, after New Delhi, will all participants in the tripartite coalition be travelling together, and at the same speed? One way or another, the 2019 KP Plenary will represent a watershed moment for the industry. That’s why they work of the WDC is so important and deserving of your support.

You can count on us to continue to provide you with updates over the coming weeks.