The Kimberley Process in session at the organization’s Intersessional Meeting in Kasane, Botswana, in June 2022.
Heads of Kimberley Process working groups and other officials representing government and industry have been gathering in Dubai, to plan the working agenda of the of the body changed with coordinating the effort to remove diamonds associated with conflict from the chain of distribution. The meeting was called by Winston Chitando, the Minister of Mining of Zimbabwe, which chairs the KP in 2003.
Much of the discussion centered on a Review and Reform Process, which will occupy the organization’s attention over the coming year and beyond. Several key issues will be tackled, including the strengthening of KP governance, defining what constitutes Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) compliance in producing countries, technical assistance provided by KP Participants, and alternatives for broadening the number of countries that may eventually consider becoming candidates for KP Vice Chair.
But the subject that will almost certainly get the most attention be the revision of the “conflict diamonds” definition in the KP Core Document. It is an issue that, in one form or another, has been on the KP’s agenda for more than 10 years. Politically charged, little progress has been made to date.
The last Review and Reform Process, which ended in 2019, has come closest to reforming the definition. But the attempt failed during the last session of the Kimberley Process Plenary Meeting in New Delhi, India, when a single country voted no. According to KP rules, decisions can only be passed with the full consensus of all member governments.
The ad hoc committee that oversaw the KP’s previous Review and Reform process, during a meeting in Paris in 2018.
DEFINTION UNCHANGED SINCE 2002
The current conflict diamonds definition remains unchanged since the KP Core Document was first ratified in 2002, shortly before the system was launched at the start of 2003. It limits conflict diamonds to be “rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments,” and does not include goods directly associated with other violations of human rights.
But, as stated Edward Asscher, President of the World Diamond Council, the diamond industry’s representative in the Kimberley Process, in his address to the Opening Session of 2022 KP Plenary last November “The world is markedly different today, as are the challenges and threats that confront us, but the definition has remained the same – it’s no longer acceptable,”
“We were unable to reach consensus in the previous Review and Reform cycle about how it may be possible to reference violations of human rights in the conflict diamonds definition,” Mr. Asscher continued. “But in the past two years the centrality of human rights has been formally recognized by the KP Plenary.”
The WDC President was referring to Frame 7, which had been ratified in a declaration at the 2021 KP Plenary in Moscow, defining the key requirements for responsibly sourcing rough diamonds in the supply chain. It specifically cited the protection of human rights and labor rights, along with community building, the protection of the environment, anti-money laundering, anti-corruption and differentiating between natural diamonds and synthetics.
‘The upcoming Review and Reform cycle must succeed or KP will risk becoming irrelevant,” Mr. Asscher told the Plenary.”
NOT STARTING FROM SCRATCH
The duration of the new Review and Reform Cycle has not yet been set, although at a meeting in Dubai in October, which preceded to the 2022 KP Plenary and was held specifically to discuss the Administrative Decision to set up and create parameters for new Review and Reform Ad Hoc Committee, there were calls that its work be fast-tracked, and that results be achieved within a year at the 2023 Plenary meeting in Zimbabwe.
That may be an overly optimistic expectation, but it will be up to the 2023 KP Plenary to decide whether the cycle should be extended.
In any case, as far as the conflict diamond definition is concerned, the sub-team that deals with the Core Document within the KP’s Committee on Rules and Procedures (CRP) has agreed that the work of the Review and Reform Ad Hoc Committee will not begin from scratch, but rather from the point at which work was suspended during the 2019 KP Plenary meeting.
After the 2022 Plenary approved a Final Communiqué, the WDC President struck an optimistic tone. “While we appreciate it is early days yet, we all are most gratified that there is broad agreement that the updating of the conflict diamond definition will be a key task of the new committee,” Mr. Ascher said.
“I have spoken at length about the shortcomings of the existing definition, and the degree to which it threatens to render the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme as irrelevant among diamond consumers. I do not expect the coming debate to be easy, but it is an area in which failure is not an option. I felt here that all countries present accept the need for change,” The WDC President added.