The World Diamond Council (WDC) called to start an open discussion of a possible Kimberley Process (KP) reform at the KP Plenary meeting to be held in Brisbane, Australia on December 9-14, 2017, according to a press note released by the WDC on Wednesday. The WDC believes there are three areas in need of reform, including a broader scope of the KP within the debate on the expansion of the definition of conflict diamonds, the establishment of a permanent secretariat and a review of the current Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) core documents.
Stephane Fischler, Acting President of the WDC speaking at a press conference call on Wednesday in the runup to the KP Plenary reaffirmed the importance of the KP and the WDC System of Warranties (SoW) as a critical tool in the fight against conflict diamonds. He said, “With the KP, we have much to be proud of having virtually eliminated conflict diamonds from the legitimate supply chain. But our job is not over, and we have more to do together to evolve the efficiency of decision making within the KP in order to maintain credibility and effect meaningful change in our shared goal of conflict resolution. I would call on all KP participants to treat this matter with a sense of urgency and ensure that our time together at the KP Plenary results in the positive outcomes that I know are possible if we all work together toward this common goal.”
The WDC believes there are three areas in need of reform to ensure continued success of the KP and SoW, which include:
1. Broadening the scope of the KP within the debate on the expansion of the definition of conflict diamonds. WDC promotes the idea of making changes in a tangible way with the aim of strengthening the KPCS. The WDC is ready to participate in any expansion of the scope, based on suggestions from KP Participants. This step will increase the likelihood of safe and secure working conditions, fair labor practices and sustainable development in diamond communities.
2. Establish a permanent secretariat based in a neutral country. This will ensure preservation of institutional memory, dedicated staffing, technical and administrative support of the daily work of the KP and its bodies, creation of a dedicated experts team to manage and effectively implement KP decisions and restrictions, restoration of KPCS implementation in sanctioned counties, securing the integrity and relevance of the KPCS as the only universal mechanism to ensure sustainable sourcing and enhancing the efficiency of the Peer review system, support for development projects in Participant countries, providing meaningful capacity building on the ground. All of these aspects are crucial to the implementation of the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). The WDC recommends this secretariat be ready to act 24/7 on all KP matters and that the position be funded by KP Participants together with the Observers on voluntary basis.
3. Review the current KPCS core document and standards, with the goal of strengthening the KPCS minimum standards by making the peer review mechanism stronger.
Stressing the importance of keeping conflict diamonds out of the global supply chain, Stephane Fischler said that this is a responsibility that is shared by all parties, not just governments. “That is why in addition to the KP’s scope, further implementation of the diamond industry’s system of self-regulation, the WDC SoW, is an important objective for us as it regulates diamonds from rough to polished and across the diamond pipeline,” he added.
Speaking of a possible change in the definition of conflict diamonds, Stephane Fischler said the WDC took a very well-known position in 2012 supporting an expansion of this definition and would like to talk more about the scope of the definition at first, pressing upon the participants the importance of expanding the scope of the KP and making sure there is a broad agreement around that before starting to talk about changing the wording of the definition. Also, in his opinion it would be appropriate to have a blessing of the United Nations on this, as the current definition of conflict diamonds was once approved by the UN.
Touching upon the situation in the Central African Republic, the acting president of the WDC noted that to broaden the KP-compliant ‘green zones’ in this country its government needs to start policing non-compliant areas, which is not an easy thing to do. So far, there are still five ‘green zones’ there and the KP requirements have not expanded beyond them.
In Stephane Fischler’s opinion it is also important that all participants of the diamond pipeline are really taking ownership of the Kimberley Process. “It might have not been in the past like this, but I welcome the representatives of African producers to take responsibility by stating that it’s really important for African countries to take ownership of the Process and I can only salute it,” he said commenting on the recent interview of M’Zee Fula Ngenge, the chairperson of the African Diamond Council and African Diamond Producers Association to Rough&Polished. However, Stephane Fischler said that he tends to disagree with the opinion expressed in the interview regarding the chairmanship of the Kimberley Process. “I think there are exporting countries and there are importing countries, and all of them have their role to play to ensure an ethical pipeline,” he said adding that it is very critical that all interested parties jointly manage the Kimberley Process.
According to the press note, diamond industry members of the WDC are close to finalizing the Guidelines which will serve to update the SoW. These Guidelines will be distributed for public review to Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and other interested parties in the spring of 2018.
The WDC also launched this week a new version of diamondfacts.org to share new and updated facts and information about the benefits that diamonds bring to local communities around the world.