All last year, the entire diamond industry was riveted to the scandal in the Kimberley Process (KP) – someone feeling indignation, some being puzzled, and some openly sympathizing. It was the first time in the history of the KP that it was declared a boycott by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) within the Civil Society Coalition (CSC). Disagreed with the chairmanship of Dubai in the KP, they put forward demands and did not stint on accusations. Against this background, various reflections on the activities and future of the Kimberley Process, which usually do not interest the average man in the street, once again hit the pages of international press.
I hope no one of the industry stakeholders will get hurt if I will voice the well-known truth: When the chairmanship of Dubai in the KP ceased and moved to Australia, the majority in the industry was relieved. It is not because the activities of the United Arab Emirates as Chairman of the KP was not appreciated (on the contrary, many considered this period of the KP existence to be one of the most effective), but simply because any conflict situation is exhausting and hampers constructive work in one way or another.
However, these hopes for a peaceful life were premature. At the end of last week, the CSC met for a regular closed meeting to discuss the KP’s complete inefficiency and raise the question of delivering new ultimatums or completely withdrawing from this organization.
We do not yet know what was the outcome of this meeting. But the fact is that this story seems less and less like an attempt to improve the activities of the KP or the situation in the diamond trade in the UAE, while it looks more and more like a banal massive PR-campaign organized to achieve quite other goals.
The Coalition announced its intention to boycott the KP as early as 2015. The CSC expressed its disagreement with the chairmanship of the United Arab Emirates, accusing Dubai of transfer pricing encouraging the penetration of conflict diamonds into the market. Then the Coalition put forward a number of demands, agreeing to return to dialogue after they would have been satisfied and citing among them the establishment of a system of internal controls to prevent undervaluation of diamonds; enforcement cooperation with trading partners; greater vigilance to prevent illicit diamonds from entering the supply chain; and engagement with watchdog groups.
Alan Martin, the head of the CSC interviewed by mass media has repeatedly said that none of the Coalition’s requirements have ever been met. He says in the invitation to the above NGO meeting that “the disrespect shown by the UAE KP Chair to the KP coalition in 2016, and our unprecedented boycott of their Chairmanship, underlined how far respectful relations and standards have deteriorated within the KP.” It looks a bit strange, taking into consideration that in 2016 the KP was busily dealing with diamond evaluation issues and started to organize forums of observers and even proposed to establish an independent fund, which could finance the participation of NGOs in the KP activities, including an opportunity to fully participate in review missions. Actually, the fact that the requirements had been met was recognized even by the members of the Coalition – for example, by the representative of CENADEP, who was immediately suspended from work for 15 days after this statement by Alan Martin.