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KP Should Partner UN To Tackle Human Rights Issues, Says WDC President

Stephane Fischler

World Diamond Council (WDC) President Stephane Fischler, speaking about the definition of the role of the Kimberley Process (KP), said that human rights issues, which many have argued should be part of its mission statement, can be robustly and effectively managed by outside agencies like the United Nations (UN).

In an interview with GEMKonnect at the recently concluded India International Jewellery Show (IIJS), Fischler, who is also president of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), observed, “The WDC has, in the past, taken the position that human rights issues should be part of the KP’s mission statement. This was, we understood, a long shot, when the matter was referred to the KP. There was no consensus among members and so human rights language is not currently part of the KP’s definition.”

“However,” he added, “we believe there are other ways to strengthen the KP — having outside agencies like the UN, which deals with these issues regularly, manage them in the KP context. So it may not be necessary to bring human rights issues into the KP’s definition.”

Fischler is forthright about the issues. “The diamond industry cannot stop conflicts. But it is up to us to find partners who can preemptively look for signals and telltale drivers of conflict. We must also then act quickly with outside bodies to ensure the issues are addressed and resolved before any situation erupts into full-scale conflict. This is a complex and difficult task, but we are working on it.”

Fischler says the WDC is working on implementing a strategic plan, which is currently still in the draft stage, but which he hopes will be ready for presentation at the annual general meeting of the WDC in Dubai in October this year. “We want to clearly move forward in strengthening the diamond pipeline and we are working on reviewing the working of the KP. We believe the current standards are good, but we are looking at strengthening the system. We want a system of warranties to be integrated into the Kimberley Process Certification System (KPCS).”

According to Fischler, the issue of standardising rough diamond valuation is part of building the KP’s capacity to manage its mission. The effort to standardise valuation is ongoing. Here again he acknowledges the complexity of the issue. “The AWDC has organised valuation training sessions with the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI). But this training will only be effective if the environment in rough diamond exporting countries supports the implementation of such valuation systems. This is not always achieved easily. Also, the downstream diamond processing industry has to work in sync with such initiatives. Only then will rough valuation initiatives be truly effective.”

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