Edward Asscher, the fifth-generation diamantaire who heads the Royal Asscher Co. in the Netherlands, was elected president of the World Diamond Council last month. He is the first president to be voted in in the group’s history. In a candid interview, Asscher — who has served as past president of the Liberal Party in the Netherlands, and represented the party for four years in the Netherlands senate—speaks about how he wants to change the Kimberley Process and whether it’s possible to bring together a divided industry.
JCK: You laid out some frameworks to your approach in your speech to the KP. Can you elaborate on them?
[two_third]Edward Asscher: We have a different approach than before. The KP is a mature organization. It has done some great work and saved a lot of lives. The biggest challenge is a level playing field. If not all the same centers use the same technological know-how, you will have false competition, and diamonds will go to the weakest point.
There are diamond offices without experts on valuation. Another center is said to have issued a Kimberley certificate with a suspected parcel from the Central African Republic. [Editor’s note: Those diamonds are banned by the KP.] If that is true, that is more than a weakness in the center.
Banks have been questioning whether the diamond industry is still bankable. What does that have to do with the WDC? If the diamond industry cannot finance its purchases of rough, the price of rough goes down, and that is detrimental to the African producing countries. The banks are demanding not only strict procedures in the KP but transparency, compliance, and auditing.[/two_third][one_third_last]
“The biggest challenge is a level playing field. If not all the same centers use the same technological know-how, you will have false competition, and diamonds will go to the weakest point.”
I have reached out to the NGOs and everyone who is critical of KP. In the past, some problems have been avoided in discussions. I can’t guarantee we will agree with everything, but we won’t duck any issues.
JCK: Will expanding the KP definition of conflict diamond to include diamonds produced under violent circumstances happen in the near future?
Asscher: The WDC has said that we favor expanding the definition. So far, three countries have blocked it. I’ll work for it, but this year it will be difficult. Next year, maybe.
JCK: You said in your speech that the KP should only focus on conflict diamonds. Can you elaborate on that?
Asscher: What I meant is, I don’t want to include colored stones. That is being handled by the Precious Stones Multi-Stakeholder Working Group [PSMSWG], which encompasses gold and precious stones. That is useful, but I think that group has the wrong approach.
JCK: Can you elaborate on why you think that group has the wrong approach?
Asscher: We have to build from the bottom up. The [PSMSWG] is very much dictated by governments and bigger companies.