The Kimberley Process Intersessional meeting kicked off today in Antwerp, as the diamond capital welcomed the international diamond community for the prestigious four-day conference. A total of 54 participants representing 81 countries (the European Union and its 28 Member States count as a single participant) are attending the KP Intersessional meeting, representing over 99% of the global trade in rough diamonds.
The timing of the congress is significant, as there is currently an engaged and reliable Chair that emphasises the strength of KP’s tripartite structure: participants, civil society and industry. The first comprises the member governments, the latter two are considered observers in the process. Hilde Hardeman leads the EU chairmanship. This is also an important period for this Intersessional meeting, given that the KP is currently in a reform cycle and has had an ambitious agenda on the table for several years.
The KP, according to the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), must dare to analyze itself in order to remain ‘fit for purpose’. The KP therefore needs reform in order to continue to respond to the changing demands of consumers and to respond to synthetic diamond producers' claims to be an ethical alternative. This reform agenda is based on an expansion and deepening of the KP, as well as making it function more professionally. The industry is a strong promoter of the ambitious agenda since it believes this is the only way forward to keep the KP efficient and effective, answering the current and future challenges the diamond value chain is confronted with.
During the Intersessional, workshops will be held to discuss the deepening, broadening and professionalising the KP’s mission. Participants will also focus on regional collaborations. Two special forums will take place alongside the main program. The first, “Innovation and Technology”, highlights, among other things, innovative sales and manufacturing. A second special forum is about “Artisanal and Alluvial Mining”. Some 10 million workers and their families are dependent on artisanal mines. Stakeholders must work together to implement the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
The AWDC's background note reads, "Antwerp collaborates extensively with diamond-producing countries, in Africa and elsewhere. The AWDC is strongly committed to capacity development and support, particularly concerning the African countries. Last year, we organized a highly successful African Diamond Conference in collaboration with the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and African diamond-producing countries. This high-level dialogue of African mining ministers, the diplomatic corps, global diamond industry, civil society and academia discussed current challenges and opportunities, and we recently organized a follow-up meeting about future collaboration. We are considering a second African Diamond Conference on the African continent next year, in partnership with the African Diamond Producers Association. AWDC has also taken a lead role in organizing training courses for diamond valuation, on the ground as well as in government circles. Currently, a large group of experts from the DRC are following a training course in Antwerp on rough diamond sorting and valuation methodologies."
It makes sense for this KP Intersessional meeting to take place in Antwerp, a city that has always taken a firm stand against conflict diamonds. Since the approval of the Kimberley Process, Antwerp has taken on the role of global moral leadership in transparency and compliance. In collaboration with Belgium’s federal government, every diamond meant for import or export is physically controlled at the Diamond Office, which serves as an example for many other diamond centers in the world.
Photo: KP Chair Hilde Hardeman & Antwerp Mayor Bart De Wever open KP Intersessional