The 16th Intersessional meeting of the Kimberley Process (KP) kicked off in Mumbai today with two of the initiative’s observers, the World Diamond Council (WDC) and the Civil Society Coalition, warning participating governments that nothing substantial had so far been achieved towards either reforming it or expanding its scope to make it relevant in today’s context.
WDC President Stephane Fischler noted that there was a drastic disparity in the development levels of diamond-producing nations that had not suffered the tragedy of civil war, conflict and violence and those that had. “The Kimberley Process has today a one-time opportunity to make a difference in those countries where the diamond industry has not yet met its developmental potential," he said.
Fischler said that while the diamond industry and civil society will do all that they can to support constructive change as observers in the KP, ultimately it will be up to governments to reach consensus on the review and reform that is required.
"We need you, the country representatives, to have the courage to look into the eyes of your own people — the men, women and children active and living in the diamond-mining areas. They ask that they be allowed to live, rather than simply survive. They request safety and security for themselves and their families, and to be dignified with a proper wage, so that they may build a better future for themselves and their children, and contribute proudly as citizens," he said.
He added, “We are relying on each of you, during this final year of the review and reform process, to show the consumers of diamonds that the Kimberley Process can unite around a program that will ensure better care and protection of your brothers and sisters.”
The WDC President once again pressed for the definition of what constitutes ‘conflict diamonds’ to be expanded. "We strongly believe that, by helping eliminate the trade in diamonds directly associated with instances of systemic violence, we can bring about a more responsible and ethical mining sector, thus enabling a fairer distribution of the benefits delivered to millions of people," he stated.
KP Civil Society Coalition (CSC) Coordinator Shamiso Mtisi, who also called for the expansion of the definition of ‘conflict diamonds’, noted that the CSC was not looking for sanctions or embargoes on nations. “Rather,” he said, “we want people need it, to get help.”
Citing several initiatives in Africa, including that by the state-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), where security forces, local communities and civil society groups were brought together to talk about the issues of violence and human rights abuse.
Mtisi said that nothing substantial had been done by the KP towards reform in the two and a half years since the current reform cycle had begun. It needed to urgently attend to these as they were now compounded by the rise of synthetics that were now pushing into the marketplace.