The World Diamond Council (WDC) has called for an open discussion about the Kimberley Process (KP) reform, highlighting 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 to strengthen the KPCS’s minimum standards by strengthening the peer review mechanism and the implementation and delivery of the standards.
As the voice of the diamond industry, the WDC is calling on all KP participants to join together in a productive dialogue on the issues facing the KP to ensure that it continues its mission and delivers 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 earlier this month.
While Fischler expressed his pride in the KP having virtually eliminated conflict diamonds from the legitimate supply chain, he warned that much remained to be done to evolve the efficiency of decision-making within the KP to maintain credibility and effect meaningful change regarding 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.
KP participants came together to discuss the KP reform at the KP plenary, which took take place in Brisbane, Australia, from December 9 to 14.
In terms of broadening the KP’s 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 has changed and that the scope of the KPCS should be aligned with 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 scope centres on the destabilising impact of conflict on the ground in mining areas, and that the WDC ensure that it is able to ascertain 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, and 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 team of experts 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 the efficiency of the peer review system and 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 it 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 System of Warranties (SoW) – remains an important objective for the WDS 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.
The WDC earlier this month 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.