WDC Acting President Fischler: Will “Remain Vigilant” on Conflict Diamonds

16/07/2017 11:49

The World Diamond Council (WDC) will stay its course focused on the primary mission to curb the trade in conflict diamonds under new acting president Stephane Fischler, who assumed the reigns on July 1 after the resignation of Andrey Polyakov, writes Henry Lazenby for Mining Weekly Online. Mr. Fischler will serve in this capacity until the end of the term of this board on May 1 2018, at which time he will start his two year term as WDC President. “We have succeeded to almost totally eradicate conflict diamonds from the global market. But, we have to continually remain vigilant, especially in places such as the Central African Republic (CAR), to stop new supplies of conflict diamonds from entering the market,” Fischler said in a telephone interview from Antwerp, Belgium.

The WDC, formed in 2000, is the only organization where the diamond trade is represented in full, from producer to retailer, and includes the most influential commercial businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and individual companies in the industry today. The WDC is the voice of the international diamond industry in a tri-partite collaboration with governments and civil society known as the Kimberley Process (KP). The KP secures and manages monitoring processes that have virtually eliminated the trade in conflict diamonds to ensure that the world’s supply of diamonds are from sources free of conflict. Fischler said the WDC is in the midst of a three-year review of its Kimberley Process (KP) rules, in an effort to expand the program.

While the industry is among the KP Observers, writes Lazenby, only States can be members and they are the ones that must implement the KP rules. However, according to Fischler, this process still faces a lack of capacity in certain jurisdictions. To build capacity, the WDC has in recent months been hosting diamond evaluation training courses in Antwerp for Africans in affected jurisdictions. “The real challenge,” he says, “is placing the trainees back in their target countries.” At the time, Fischler told The Diamond Loupe, "The long term success and sustainability of the Kimberley Process depends on enhanced knowledge, capacity as well as strong governance to ensure higher income for producing countries, which will benefit human development and security. These students will serve as ambassadors for this crucial task. Sharing our unique and recognised experience on diamond sorting and valuation will give them the tools to make a difference back in their home countries."

Lazenby writes that currently, there is only one situation that is genuinely concerning, and that is the CAR, which accounts for less than 1% of global output. While some 'compliant zones' in the west of the country have been cleared for exports, most of the country is under a blanket ban to export diamonds due to ongoing political instability. The country is under strict monitoring by a team comprising government, industry and civil society representatives tasked with upholding the strict guidelines put forward a year ago to prevent the trade of conflict diamonds, Fischler says. “Diamonds from the CAR have been slowly returning to the legitimate diamond supply chain under strict supervision of the KP appointed monitoring team. The monitoring process that has been put in place has not come without specific challenges; there have been instances where issues related to the lack of documentation have arisen and as a result the monitoring team took swift and proper action to block shipments that were not meeting the established monitoring guidelines,” he adds.

Fischler told Mining Weekly Online that the WDC and the KP monitoring team recognise the challenging environment in which the CAR monitoring authorities operate, and continues to press the CAR government to increase its efforts to guarantee the traceability of the diamond supply chain within the country and prevent the proliferation of the illicit diamond trade. “The KP continues to become more efficient in our common ability to monitor the exchange of diamonds in CAR, thanks to the more rigorous and efficient work by the local KP focal point", he says, stressing the need for local capacity. "Diamond exports not conforming to the agreed procedures, will continue to be barred from being exported.” Lazenby adds that the WDC also supports the work of the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI), which, "works to effect systemic change within the artisanal and small-scale mining sector, which accounts for less than 10% of global output, by convening all interested parties in processes and projects that help turn precious stones and minerals into a source of sustainable community development, complementing the KP."