WDC to Advocate Broader Conflict Diamond Definition at OECD Forum

Sustainability
23/04/2019 12:21

The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains kicks off today in Paris, and the World Diamond Council (WDC) will be an active participant. Tomorrow they will be participating in a deep dive session addressing recent standard-making developments in upstream and downstream diamond supply chains, and more specifically look at the RJC's revised Code of Practices and the WDC's new System of Warranties (SoWs) Guidelines. Stephane Fischler, WDC President, writes in a blog that they will continue their push for the Kimberley Process to accept the broader understanding of the term 'conflict diamonds' contained in the System of Warranties (SoWs).

Fischler first writes that the first few years of the OECD forum focused primarily on 3TG (meaning tin, tungsten, tantalum, as well as gold) being mined in the Great Lakes region of Africa, which in 2010 were targeted by the Dodd Frank Act passed by the U.S. Congress. At the urging of African governments and civil society groups in the area, which had seen the output of these minerals plummet after the American legislation was passed, with devastating effect on communities dependent on artisanal and small-scale mining, the OECD released the first edition of its five-step due diligence framework guidance. It was designed to mitigate the risk involved in importing minerals from high-risk areas. That document has since been updated twice. He notes that the OECD's due diligence guidance for minerals from high-risk areas will become applicable across the entire mineral spectrum, including diamonds.

Shining a spotlight on the issues the WDC will bring to the table at the Forum, he writes that the WDC will participate in an intensive session to take stock of recent standard-making developments in diamond supply chains, more specifically looking at the RJC's revised Code of Practices and the WDC's new System of Warranties (SoWs) Guidelines. "While somewhat narrower in focus than that of the OECD's full due diligence guidance, it is our strong contention that the SoWs are a crucial component for implementing the OECD system in the diamond supply chain, irrespective of the size or nature of the company involved. To no small degree this is because the SoWs recognize that 'conflict diamonds' include more than just goods traded to finance civil war, but also comprise diamonds associated with other instances of grave and systemic violence, including acts carried out by public and private security forces in gross violation of human and labor rights, or serving the interests of corrupt public servants. We strongly believe that by eliminating such systemic violence, the formalization of artisanal miners will be encouraged, resulting in improved working conditions, better revenues at the grass-roots level, sustainable economic opportunities and improved environmental management."

He adds, "It is our fervent hope that the broader understanding of the term 'conflict diamonds' contained in the SoWs will come to be accepted by the Kimberley Process, and we plan to advocate this position during the meetings of the KP Ad Hoc Committee on Reform and Review on April 25 and 26. As the participation of so many artisanal miners at the OECD forum underscores, it is ultimately people and their well-being that are the focus of our deliberations."