With 2019 being the final year of the Kimberley Process’ (KP) three-year review, the organization must grasp an historic opportunity to correct shortfalls in the system designed to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the chain of distribution, World Diamond Council (WDC) President Stephane Fischler will tell a special meeting on the role of diamonds in fueling conflict, which is being conducted today in New York as part the United Nations General Assembly’s 73rd Session.
The side-event, entitled "From blood diamonds to peace diamonds: conflict prevention through the Kimberley Process", is organized by the European Union as the outgoing KP Chair on the occasion of the presentation of a resolution to the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly. The 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," and like the event today, specifically addresses the topic of the KP as both a conflict prevention tool and a facilitator of sustainable development, good governance and transparency.
In his address to the gathering Mr. Fischler will note that, while the UN-mandated KP Certification Scheme, launched in 2003, has proven successful in stemming the flow of diamonds that were financing rebel forces in civil wars, it has not been successful in addressing other types of mineral-related conflict, and in particular systemic violence in the mining areas. Since much of the latter has occurred in places where small-scale and artisanal mining is conducted, the KP has not met its potential as a facilitator of capacity building and sustainable economic development. However, the WDC President will stress, by adopting a number of urgently-required reforms at the conclusion of its current review process, the KP has the capacity to correct its limitations.
Critically, Mr. Fischler will stress, the KP must galvanize its absolute commitment to its conflict-prevention mission, which will require the expansion of the definition of “conflict diamonds” to cover all forms of systemic violence, including those carried out by state and private security forces. A proposal to this effect was put forward by the Government of Canada at last November’s KP Plenary Meeting in Brussels, and was supported by both the industry and civil society participants in the tripartite forum. The WDC President will call on the KP to achieve consensus on the issue before the end of the year.
Further reforms include improving the KP standards and modalities, such as the peer review mechanism; raising the level of representation and participation in the body, both by governments and the UN; improving the gathering and flow of essential data; and creating a permanent secretariat, which will be staffed by full-time professionals. While it waits for action from the KP, Mr. Fischler will explain that the WDC is already conducting reforms of its own, to enable at the industry-level the type of progress it is advocating for the KP. These include a revised System of Warranties, tracking both rough and polished diamonds all the way to the jewelry retailer, which now expressly reference human rights and strict labor practices, and also support the OECD Due Diligence Guidelines for Minerals from High-Risk Areas.
The session is being hosted by the European Union and will be attended by the 2019 Chair of the Kimberley Process, Alok Chaturvedi of India, the 2018 KP Chair, Hilde Hardeman of the European Commission, as well as by representatives of government, industry, civil society and academia.