JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The World Diamond Council has called for an open discussion about the Kimberley Process (KP) reform at the upcoming KP plenary, which will take place in Brisbane, Australia from December 9 to 14.
As the voice of the diamond industry, the WDC is calling for all KP participants to join together in a productive dialogue on the issues facing the KP to ensure that it can continue its mission and deliver the duty of care owed to communities and consumers with respect to conflict-free diamonds, said WDC acting president Stephane Fischler during a media call on Wednesday.
The WDC this week also launched a new version of the diamondfacts.org website to share new and updated facts and information about the benefits that diamonds bring to local communities worldwide.
While Fischler expressed his pride in the KP having virtually eliminated conflict diamonds from the legitimate supply chain, he warned that much remains to be done to evolve the efficiency of decision-making within the KP to maintain credibility and effect meaningful change in the shared goal of conflict resolution.
“I would call on all KP participants to treat this matter with a sense of urgency and ensure that our time together at the KP Plenary results in the positive outcomes that I know are possible if we all work together toward this common goal,” he said.
While the WDC affirmed the importance of the KP and the WDC System of Warranties (SoW) as a critical tool in the fight against conflict diamonds, the WDC highlighted three key areas in need of reform to ensure its continued success.
These include broadening the scope of the KP as the debate on the expansion of the definition of conflict diamonds unfolds, the establishment of a permanent secretariat based in a neutral country, and the review of the KP Certification Scheme (KPCS) with the goal of strengthening the KPCS’s minimum standards by strengthening the peer review mechanism and the implementation and delivery of the standards.
In terms of broadening the scope, Fischler noted that the WDC promotes the idea of making changes in a tangible way with the aim of strengthening the KPCS. Further, the WDC is ready to participate in any expansion of the scope, based on suggestions from KP participants.
The council believes that the nature of conflict diamonds have changed and that the scope of the KPCS should be aligned to this change.
“We believe that by doing this we will increase the likelihood of safe and secure working conditions, fair labour practices and sustainable development in diamond communities,” said Fischler.
He suggested that the debate centres on the destabilising impact of conflict on the ground in mining areas, and that the WDC should ensure that it can measure when systematic violence comes into play so that it can stabilise the mining areas and consequently act preventively and intervene.
Meanwhile, Fischler believes that the establishment of a permanent secretariat will ensure the preservation of institutional memory, dedicated staffing, technical and administrative support of the daily work of the KP and its bodies.
The secretariat will also aid in the creation of a dedicated expert team to manage and effectively implement KP decisions and restrictions, restore KPCS implementation in sanctioned counties, secure the integrity and relevance of the KPCS as the only universal mechanism to ensure sustainable sourcing and enhance its efficiency as a peer review system, provide support for development projects in participant countries, as well as provide meaningful capacity building on the ground.
The WDC recommends that this secretariat be ready to act 24/7 on all KP matters and that the position be funded by KP participants, together with observers on a voluntary basis.
“The industry is prepared to take its responsibility and certainly participate in the funding, but it is important that all KP participants join in,” Fischler noted.
In addition to the KP’s scope, further implementation of the diamond industry’s system of self-regulation – the WDC SoW – remains an important objective for the WDC as it regulates diamonds from rough to polished and across the diamond pipeline,” Fischler noted, adding that the system was being reviewed.
He explained that a key difference would be the introduction of an element of due diligence.
Diamond industry members of the WDC are finalising the guidelines, which will serve to update the SoW. These guidelines will be distributed for public review to nongovernment organisations and other interested parties in the Spring of 2018.