The Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition (CSC) recently said that it is planning to approach the United Nations (UN) over the impasse on the redefinition of conflict diamonds and the principles of responsible sourcing.
The CSC representative Shamiso Mtisi said it is time the UN directly intervenes in this important matter and prescribes to the KP what to do.
He said in approaching the UN, they will draw its attention to hotspot areas where diamond mining companies, state actors and private security and trading states are allegedly violating human rights for profit.
Mtisi claimed that despite efforts by Russia (together with Botswana on the principles) to put the redefinition of conflict diamonds and the principles of responsible sourcing on the agenda of their recent meeting, there was resistance with participants invoking procedural concerns to block the discussions.
He alleged that this was making the KP guilty by inaction, since without an update to the definition, and promoting responsible sourcing standards, the KP continues to falsely certify diamonds affected by widespread or systematic violence as conflict-free.
Rough & Polished’s Mathew Nyaungwa contacted some players in the diamond industry to get their comments on this gridlock. Below is his question and the responses he received from Botswana Diamonds’ managing director James Campbell, De Beers’ spokesperson David Johnson; and independent industry analyst Paul Zimnisky:
The Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition recently indicated that is planning to approach the United Nations over an impasse on the redefinition of conflict diamonds and the principles of responsible sourcing. What is your opinion on these two sticking issues?
Botswana Diamonds managing director James Campbell
I have always been a little cynical about the KP due to its lack of ‘teeth‘ and ‘woolly’ definition of what is a conflict diamond and what is not so I support any move to tighten these two aspects. Not only is this the correct moral and ethical route, but also something which the consumer would want particularly with the more socially-minded generation.
This view is also in alignment with the increasing and important focus on ESG matters in mining which can be encapsulated in the term ‘social license’ to operate.
So where we have clear guidelines on ESG in the Equator Principles and other similar tools, we need the KP to step up and do the same for diamonds, which after all represent our deepest and most pure emotions.
De Beers spokesperson David Johnson
While the KP has been successful at achieving the specific aims it set out to do about addressing the risk of conflict diamonds entering the value chain, we are fully supportive of the desire to expand the KP definition to include reference to human rights and responsible sourcing practices more broadly.
The diamond industry has already established a variety of programmes that are open to all businesses in the diamond sector (such as the RJC’s Code of Practice and WDC System of Warranties), as well as those created by individual businesses (such as our BPPs).