KP Chair Invites NGOs To End Boycott, Attend Plenary

20/10/2016 00:05

Earlier this week, Kimberley Process (KP) chair Ahmed Bin Sulayem issued a press release extending an, "Invitation to Civil Society to Attend [KP] Plenary", [civil society = NGOs] and also shared with the CSC a document providing an in-depth response addressing previous issues and concerns raised by the CSC at the beginning of the UAE KP Chairmanship ("Proposal for a Remediation Between the 2016 KP Chair and the Members of the Civil Society Coalition"). The impetus for this gesture can be traced back to November 2015, when the CSC announced it would boycott the organization next year in protest at the UAE's chairmanship of the international body that combats conflict diamonds. The 11 members of the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition say the UAE's chairmanship crossed a red line due to "widespread concerns over UAE's lenient standards and antagonistic relationship with the Coalition."

The KP press release states: "The KP Chair has travelled extensively across the African continent in 2016, holding talks with political leaders, heads of state, and Ministers of Mines.... In particular, significant progress has been made in Central African Republic, where the UAE took over the lead of the CAR Monitoring team, and where four zones are now considered compliant for export." It further details how the KP Chair has initiated a series of dedicated workshops on rough diamond valuation. Bin Sulayem writes, “Our progress with rough diamond valuation and my extensive travel across the African continent has confirmed my conviction that the world needs to do better for Africa," and concludes stating that he wishes to, "show our willingness to fund the participation of all members of the CSC at the Plenary so that we can demonstrate to the world that the Kimberley Process has re-found an active tripartite which looks at solving the issues at stake proactively and jointly.”

According to JCK's Rob Bates, however, at this point it appears that the CSC will take its time before making a decision whether to accept the invitation or not. “The boycott of plenary remains in place,” says Alan Martin, research director for Partnership Africa Canada and spokesperson for the CSC. “The coalition is studying the proposal and will reply to the UAE at a later date.” Until then, we will have to wait and see whether the tripartite structure of the KP will be rehabilitated before year's end.