The Kimberley Process (KP) is set to adopt a draft resolution that opens up the potential to expand its mandate beyond the narrow confines of eliminating 'conflict diamonds' as currently defined. The draft resolution is entitled "The role of diamonds in fuelling conflict: breaking the link between the illicit transaction of rough diamonds and armed conflict as a contribution to prevention and settlement of conflicts," which it will include in the provisional agenda of its next session, committing the KP to discuss a report on the implementation of the Kimberley Process. Last year, the United Nations General Assembly, welcoming progress made by the KP to break links between the diamond trade and conflict, adopted a consensus resolution aimed at intensifying that work and aligning it with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The KP was established in 2003 with the objective to rid the trade of conflict diamonds. Since then, the percentage of conflict diamonds has shrunk from 15% to less than 1%, making it an undisputed success as defined. The issue, however, has been with that definition, insofar as the KP defines conflict diamonds as: ‘rough diamonds used to finance wars against governments’. Under the leadership of the 2018 EU Chair, the KP considered an ambitious reform agenda, one aspect of which was an expansion of the KP by broadening the definition of conflict diamonds. To remain relevant and 'fit for purpose', the EU Chair and industry representative World Diamond Council (WDC) argued that the KP should continue to evolve into an instrument of conflict prevention and socio-economic development rather than solely conflict resolution. The first steps in the right direction were taken last year where the global diamond industry - through the WDC - and participating NGOs stated their agreement concerning the proposal of a new definition that takes social and environmental conditions into account, particularly those relevant to communities in (artisanal) diamond regions.
The new resolution, slated to be officially adopted on March 1, does just that, and includes language, "Recognizing that the trade in conflict diamonds continues to be a matter of serious international concern, which can be directly linked to the fuelling of armed conflict," and "Recognizing also the devastating impact of conflicts fuelled by the trade in conflict diamonds on peace, and the safety and security of people in affected countries." Yet it also recognizes, "that the diamond sector is an important catalyst for promoting economic and social development, which are necessary for poverty reduction and meeting the requirements of the Sustainable Development Goals in many producing countries, particularly in developing countries." And herein lies the step forward. The EU, the WDC and its member organizations such as the AWDC believe it is essential that the KP mandate is expanded so as to make a greater contribution to the United Nation's SDGs as well as regional stability, particularly in Africa.
It is therefore crucial that discussions concerning KP reform continue this year during India's Chairmanship, and it is thus welcome that the new KP resolution "Encourages further strengthening the KP to enhance its effectiveness in addressing challenges posed to the diamond industry and related communities, including from instability and conflict, and to ensure that the KP remains relevant for the future, and continues to contribute to international peace and security and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs, and looks forward to further exploring and advancing the ways in which the KP contributes to peacebuilding and sustaining peace." The KP is an effective mechanism given the principle of inclusivity ensured by its tripartite structure (55 Member countries, civil society organization, and the diamond industry), and must continue to promote the legitimate rough diamond trade and its positive benefits to producing countries, including transparency and accountability throughout the diamond industry, as well as to the economies of producing, exporting and importing States.
Image: My Fair Diamond