KP plenary will be ‘watershed’ moment for the industry – council

8th November 2019 By: Marleny Arnoldi - Creamer Media Online Writer

Those involved in the build-up to the Kimberley Process (KP) plenary meeting to be held in New Delhi, India, later this month, are experiencing “whirlwind days”, the World Diamond Council (WDC) said in a blog post this week.

The KP plenary meeting will open on November 18 and conclude on November 22.

With a range of critical issues as yet unsettled, participants are sharing and promoting last-minute positions during bilateral meetings in different parts of the world and at a number of strategically scheduled conferences, attended by many of the key players.

These included the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi, Russia, toward the end of October, and the Diamond Conference in Gaborone, Botswana, this week.

“The final minutes are on the clock for the KP’s three-year review and reform cycle, which began in 2016 and will end at the plenary meeting under the chairmanship of India.

“Some tough discussions will take place, as difficult decisions need to be made – none more so than whether the scope of the KP Certification Scheme (KPCS) will be strengthened,” the WDC stated.

At the heart of the debate is the definition of what constitutes a “conflict diamond.”

Currently, it is unchanged from that which has existed since the KPCS was launched at the start of 2003. This means that only diamonds whose proceeds are fuelling civil war against legitimate governments are targeted.

Recognising the outdated definition, the WDC, together with civil society and a number of government representatives, are insisting that it be amended to include instances of unacceptable violence in the supply chain during peacetime as well.

A number of proposals are on the table, among them one that was formulated by the WDC together with the Civil Society Coalition and tabled by the Government of Canada. Others have been proposed by Botswana and the Russian Federation.

The WDC said it was not yet clear which, if any of them, would be approved in New Delhi.

The tripartite coalition of the KP has been a remarkably successful scheme, bringing under its umbrella industry, human rights activists and governments, from both the developing and developed world.

It has succeeded in enforcing tough policies largely because each and every one of them required buy-in from all voting members, after every party was permitted to state its case.

“But will it be able to rise to the occasion once again, or will it be hamstrung by the KP members’ short-term political self-interest?

“While we are active on all committees and subcommittees, when the time comes to vote, only government members have the right to do so,” noted the WDC.

However, that does not mean the WDC is a passive player.

“While we do not have a final say on the future scope of KP certification, we most definitely are able to set responsible industry standards for the goods reaching the market. The new WDC System of Warranties, which applies to all rough and polished diamonds handled by the trade, requires a commitment by companies to adhere to WDC guidelines.

“These go beyond the KP’s currently limited ‘conflict diamonds’ definition, expressly referencing international conventions relating to human and labour rights, anticorruption and anti-money laundering,” the WDC pointed out.

“The question is whether, after New Delhi, all participants in the tripartite coalition will be travelling together and at the same speed? One way or another, the 2019 KP plenary will represent a watershed moment for the industry,” it stated.