The participants of the recent Kimberley Process Plenary Meeting hosted by the European Union in Brussels carried their work to completion on November 16, 2018 but were left with a home work on their hands to be done before the next convention under the chairmanship of India. The World Diamond Council, the voice of the diamond industry in the Kimberley Process tripartite expressed concern that more progress was not made in reforming its scope at this Plenary by expanding the definition of “conflict diamonds“, which had been proposed by WDC and its fellow KP observer, the Civil Society Coalition (CSC).
Interviewed by Rough&Polished, Stephane Fischler, President of the World Diamond Council provides his opinion on the necessity for action to solve the problems of artisanal and small-scale miners particularly vulnerable from both the social and economic perspective, thus enhancing the role of the Kimberley Process in protecting their interests.
The Kimberley Process Plenary Meeting this last November did not succeed to change the definition of “conflict diamonds.” What is the major stumbling block to expand this definition?
There was no expectation for an agreement to a new definition at the November Plenary.
A formal proposal from Canada, jointly supported by the World Diamond Council (WDC) and the Civil Society Coalition (CSC) was formally registered during the plenary. It will now form the basis, unless other proposal and send in of course, for the discussions during the Indian Chairmanship.
Prior to the KP Plenary in Brussels, Joanne Lebert, Executive Director of IMPACT said that the diamond industry “continues to be tainted by association with human rights abuses like child labour and forced labour, as well as conflict, environmental damage, and corruption.” Your comments.
The CSC, now exclusively comprised of African NGO’s and supported by the Belgian based IPIS (International Peace Information Service) has made it clear during our multiple exchanges that their main area of focus are the communities active in and around the diamond mining areas.
The main concerns are, both linked to rough diamonds sourcing:
1. Grave and systematic violence and
2. Abuses by public and private security forces.
The environment is also an area of concern especially when it impacts the basic livelihoods of these communities.
These exchanges have led to our joint proposal for a new definition.
Some of the African countries were reported to be against expanding the definition of “conflict diamonds” fearing this may affect diamonds from the continent given that some governments have tainted human rights records in the mining sector. Do you think such fears are groundless?
The main argument that we have been party to, is that any expanded definition will have to contain clear assurances of impartiality. Meaning that any action undertaken by the KP as a result of a breach to the definition, will have to be done in a neutral and objective manner. A guaranteed level playing field for all. Both the WDC and the CSC have no issue with this and understand the expressed concerns. These will have to be part and parcel of the discussions leading to the new definition.