Australia’s term as Chair of the Kimberley Process kicked off today at the KP Intersessional Meeting in Perth, which runs from May 1 – 4. The focus of this year’s meeting is the start of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) review cycle in order to strengthen the Kimberley Process. According to a World Diamond Council (WDC) press release, the WDC held an Observers Forum alongside the KP meeting, where WDC members, African Diamond Producers Association and civil society partners (CSC, DDI) met to discuss their common goals and joint efforts to promote further evolution of the KPCS and improve its efficiency.
Andrey Polyakov, president of the WDC and vice president of ALROSA, spoke at the opening session: “The WDC continues its efforts to improve the System of Warranties, designed to extend the confirmation of non-conflict origin down through the diamond pipeline,” said Polyakov. “We understand that the existing System of Warranties is far from being perfect, but we hope that by the end of this year we shall be able to present an updated System of Warranty. The creation of an effective system will be a significant industry contribution to strengthen consumer’s confidence and grow the excellent reputation of our product."
"The main challenge of this work is the regulation and accounting of small-scale artisanal mining. The DDI and development agencies have so far initiated remarkable progress but we will request the support of other major organizations as well, in particular African Institutional Stakeholders, to jointly study and address this issue. African countries need to get maximum benefit from artisanal mining to develop the economies and improve the living conditions of their people. But they will not be able to achieve this without complying with all business and social responsibility standards.”
On the hot issues of provenance and traceability, he added, "As we discuss KP development, we must look beyond narrow administrative arrangements. All components related to origin of consumer products are rightfully questioned today. Science is constantly progressing in such a way that new technologies able to determine the mine origin of each diamond with a very high probability, could well become reality quite soon. These new technological methods would then improve the control over the origin and trafficking of rough diamonds and may be the basis for the future development of the KP. The multi-donor source of financial support and the creation of a professional secretariat will help industry and governments establish these processes.
Another issue expected to be a source of debate this year is the possibility of expanding the definition of conflict diamonds. Two weeks ago, Zimbabwe said it will not support civil society’s sponsored move to expand the definition of conflict diamonds to include issues such as human rights. Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa said, “There is another UN organ (that deals with human rights) ... there is an African Union organ responsible for human rights. If we now say human rights as they relate with diamonds must be dealt with by the Kimberley Process, (then) I don’t understand what we are trying to do.” He also said that the UN and IMF as well as member countries had ways to deal with the issue of financial illicit. “Why don’t we let those who have the expertise to deal with that?” he asked rhetorically.