WDC President Urges Countries To Embrace Reform at KP Intersessional in India

14/06/2019 15:50

The 2019 Kimberly Process (KP) Intersessional, with India as its Chair, will take place in Mumbai starting next week Monday. Ahead of the meeting, Stéphane Fischler, President of the World Diamond Council (WDC), urged mining and manufacturing countries in particular to heed the concerns of those in the diamond-consuming countries and to address issues regarding the integrity of the diamond value chain. Those in the industry who are more directly involved with consumers appreciate the urgency of KP reform, as time is running out. Next week's Intersessional is the first of two meetings this year before the close of the KP review and reform process, which will largely be the focus of this year's KP gatherings. “Decisions taken over the next six months, as part of the review and reform process, will reverberate for years to come and impact lives and livelihoods all the way up and down the diamond value chain,” Fischler writes.

Fischler points out the tremendous interdependence among the actors in the diamond value chain, "meaning that every member has the ability to both facilitate and disrupt the entire system." The impact of a negative view of the industry as a whole, however, varies according to one's location on that chain. For those living in diamond-producing regions and some manufacturing centers, "diamonds are a primary source of income and community development." However, "in the countries where polished diamond jewelry is predominantly sold, they are considered non-essential products." If consumers grow wary of the product, they may simply shift their disposable income elsewhere. The overall economy will not suffer, and jewelers can - theoretically - sell something else. Yet it is those that directly serve consumers that are calling the loudest for integrity in the value chain.

"It puzzles me that the KP participants advocating the most stringent standards of supply chain integrity are not those with the highest degree of risk, [nor those who are] the greatest potential beneficiaries of increased revenues from their diamond resources." He adds, "to dismiss the concerns of consuming nations ... is likely to be counter-productive. As the intermediary links in the chain that connect the mining sector to the consuming markets, we in the diamond and jewelry industries are acutely aware of the pressures under which both operate, and it is for this reason that we are convinced that all of our interests converge by enabling and then demonstrating the nation-building capacity of natural diamonds, especially in countries where artisanal and small-scale mining are dominant. It is for this reason that the new WDC System of Warranties expressly references human and labor rights, anti-money laundering and anti-corruption, and why we advocate together with civil society that, as part of the KP reform process, the 'conflict diamonds' definition be expanded to include all forms of systemic violence."

India’s Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry, the country’s representative authority on the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, is the official host of the KP Intersessional. In addition to the standard meetings of the Working Groups and Committees of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), two special forums regarding Diamond Terminology and Artisanal Mining – Small Steps to Larger Outcomes –  will be held during the Intersessional. Around 300 delegates from the Government of India and other participating countries, industry and civil society will be attending the five-day Meeting.