Kimberly Process (KP) comprising 71 nations, civil society and the diamond industry, has made much progress towards the eradication of conflict diamonds. This was revealed during their annual meeting, which ended in Gaborone on Thursday last week.
According to the press release, several very contentious issues confronted the Kimberly Process meeting. In October, a report to the United Nations Security Council reported that conflict diamonds were leaking out of Cote d’Ivoire through Ghana.
As a result of this, the plenary concluded that there might be credible indications that Ghana had not complied with its KP obligations. And the solution? The Plenary approved a plan to help Ghana strengthen its internal diamond controls or face a possible lose of its KP status. Detailed conditions for Ghana’s continuation in the KPCS were established, with a tight time frame. Ghana was also offered assistance in providing technical expertise aimed at improving the country’s diamond controls. A review mission would be sent to Ghana in three months to verify compliances.
Partnership Africa Canada presented a report demonstrating that, for more than a year, 100% of Venezuela’s diamond production had been smuggled out of the country. To solve this, a KP review mission will be sent to Venezuela to engage the government on its apparent lack of control over its industry.
A three-year self-managed review of the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) had failed to deal with several contentious issues, including effective and credible government oversight on the diamond industry, KPCS funding requirements and statistical transparency. The plenary, therefore, endorsed the concept of transparency in statistical reporting by approving the immediate release of KP summary data on trade and production, by volume, value and certificate counts for 2004 and 2005 data.
In addition it was agreed that the KP would continue to cooperate and liaise with the United Nations and other organizations and initiatives, such as Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the Diamond Development Initiative and international and local NGOs, to address the governance, regulatory, social and development issues facing countries with artesianal diamond mining and then develop closer partnerships with the communities affected and civil society at the local level.
Responding to calls from participants, civil society and from the World Diamond Council (WDC), the plenary agreed on stronger internal control standards for participants which produce, trade, cut and polish diamonds. According to the final communiqu├®, these measures offer clearer guidance on implementing effective controls from mine to export and include stronger government oversight of the diamond industry, including spot checks of industry compliance. It was agreed in this plenary that all exports of rough diamonds had to be accompanied by valid Kimberly Process certificates issued by participants, guaranteeing that the diamonds were conflict free.
The Plenary in Botswana not only ensured the effectiveness and credibility of the KP, but also recognized the importance of working with initiatives by industry and NGOs on the economic, social, environmental and development needs of informal mining sector. This is taken as a further example of the positive results that come from a successful coalition of governments, civil society and industry to deal with pressing problems of public concern.
“All this issues were addressed in a constructive manner, and we have been pleasantly surprised at the willingness of participants to deal with the issues quickly, fairly and effectively,” said Partnership Africa Canada’s Ian Smille, who delivered gloomy opening remarks to the meeting.
Considering the challenges that KP faced before the plenary, the Chairman of the World Diamond Council, Eli Izhakoff, said the process achieved in Botswana delighted them.
“Much credit must go to Botswana’s excellent leadership of a watershed in the history of the KP.
All the industry’s demands have been met and this demonstrates the determination of Participant governments to ensure that the Process has credibility and the resolve to rise to the challenges of the future,” said Izhakoff.
Karel Kovanda, on assuming the Chair of the KP on behalf of the European Commission, said, “The nature of our disagreements is such that the KP emerges from them stronger. The nature of the points of agreement is unparalleled, and thanks to them, we are changing the world.”