While the Kimberley Process chair is focused on advancing forums on rough valuation, questions linger about the UAE’s own diamond trade.
From the get go, the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) chairmanship of the Kimberley Process (KP) had a fair share of controversies as civil society, and a number of member states, expressed their concern with seating the 2016 chair in Dubai.
Ultimately, the Civil Society Coalition – the non-government pillar of the KP – boycotted the KP this year, saying the UAE failed to address four issues prior to its appointment. These include: over-valuation of rough re-exports, absence of enforcement cooperation with key trading partners, lack of vigilance on diamonds imported into Dubai from problematic areas, and effective engagement with civil society.
Eight months into the chairmanship and Ahmed Bin Sulayem, the UAE-appointed 2016 KP chair, dismisses the concerns, claiming they deflect from the KP’s achievements this year. His focus for the remaining few months of his tenure is two-fold, he explained in an interview with Rapaport News: Advancing the rough valuation initiative introduced in May, and strengthening the KP’s ties with African states.
Time for Africa
His recent tour of select African nations bore some significance as it included the Central African Republic (CAR), shortly after the country resumed its rough exports, effectively ending a three-year suspension imposed by the KP. Bin Sulayem was the first KP chair to visit CAR and instrumental in lifting the ban, which he said will have a notable impact on the country, considered among the poorest in the world.
“The embargo meant workers weren’t getting their salaries and so they naturally looked for other ways to feed their families,” he said. “Sometimes, preventing a livelihood becomes a reason for the conflict, which is a scenario I don’t want.”