The Kimberley Process must galvanise its absolute commitment to its conflict-prevention mission, and this 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.
This is one of the major points of World Diamond Council (WDC) President Stephane Fischler’s message to a special meeting on the role of diamonds in fuelling conflict, which is being conducted today in New York as part the United Nations General Assembly's 73rd Session.
A proposal to expand the definition of “conflict diamonds” 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.
While the UN-mandated Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), which was launched in 2003, has proven itself 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 form of conflict 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, Fischler will say.
However, 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, the WDC President will stress. These 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 United Nations; improving the gathering and flow of essential data; and creating a permanent secretariat, which will be staffed by full-time professionals.
With 2019 being the final year of the Kimberley Process' three-year review, the organisation must grasp an historic opportunity to correct shortfalls in the system designed to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the chain of distribution, Fischler will say in the session entitled "From blood diamonds to peace diamonds: conflict prevention through the Kimberley Process”.
The WDC President will call on the KP to achieve consensus on the issue before the end of the year.
While it waits for action from the Kimberley Process, Fischler will tell the gathering, the World Diamond Council 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 jewellery retailer, which now expressly reference human rights and strict labour practices, and also support the OECD Due Diligence Guidelines for Minerals from High-Risk Areas.