US suggests need for broader conflict diamond definition, due diligence for responsible sourcing

13th June 2018 By: Marleny Arnoldi - Creamer Media Online Writer

The Kimberley Process (KP) intercessional, which will take place from June 18 to 22 in Antwerp, Belgium, will focus on proposed reforms in the certification system to help achieve ambitious goals in the global diamond industry.

This year, the European Union is chairing the KP and India is serving as the vice-chair.

“This year, in addition to serving as vice-chair, India is chairing an ad-hoc committee on review and reform that is tackling tough issues on KP reform, including looking at the scope of the KP to address current challenges.

“They will also look into creating a permanent secretariat on the agenda for the ad-hoc committee,” explains Conflict Minerals and KP for US senior adviser Pamela Fierst-Walsh.

She adds that she is looking forward to a week of meaningful discussion with other members of the KP, as well as the independent observers of the KP, including the World Diamond Council, the Civil Society Coalition and the Diamond Development Initiative.

The US will focus on key improvements in modifying the KP this year; firstly, to encourage the KP to expand the definition of a conflict diamond from the current overly-narrow scope; and secondly, the US will urge the KP to issue a statement of support for acceptance of contemporary due diligence standards in the sourcing of rough diamonds.

“We believe these two developments will show that the KP is willing to modernise and that it can live up to expectations. These are fairly basic advances, but now is the time.”

Fierst-Walsh further explains that modern consumers are starting to realise that the KP’s definition of a conflict diamond narrowly advises only to rough diamonds whose proceeds are used to fund the efforts of armed groups against legitimate governments, and not as broad as they thought.

“Many consumers will start turning to other goods that do not associate with conflict and violence, including synthetic or laboratory-grown diamonds. The KP can prevent this shift, if it is willing to support industry and diamond miners at least by expanding and strengthening the definition to meet consumer expectations.”

A broader definition would ensure better protection, for example, by keeping violence and conflict – regardless of who is responsible – out of the diamond supply chain.

Beyond the strict definition of a conflict diamond, the KP needs to send the message that it can endorse broader principles of responsible sourcing and due diligence in the rough diamonds supply chain.

“Key players in the diamond industry have already taken that step; the KP should too and evolve along with the modern supply chain, especially to help keep natural diamonds relevant,” says Fierst-Walsh.

The KP is an international, multistakeholder initiative created to increase transparency and oversight in the diamond industry to eliminate trade in conflict diamonds, or rough diamonds sold by rebel groups or their allies to fund conflict against legitimate governments.

The KP became operational in 2003, controls trade in rough diamonds between 80 member States through domestic implementation of a certification scheme that makes the trade more transparent and secure, while prohibiting trade with nonparticipants.

Fierst-Walsh commented that the KP helps limit the entrance of conflict diamonds in legitimate global trade. “The US continues to support KP as it urges its member States to embrace greater reform.”