Mar 08, 2018

UN Welcomes Progress Made by KPCS, Calls for Alignment with Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations General Assembly unanimously welcomed the progress made by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, since its establishment in 2003, to break links between the diamond trade and conflict, and also adopted a resolution aimed at intensifying that work and aligning it with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The session was addressed by representatives of EU and Australia, the current and immediate past  KP Chairs, as well as by others from countries closely associated with the diamond trade.

Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, who introduced the draft resolution titled, “The role of diamonds in fuelling conflict:  breaking the link between the illicit transaction of rough diamonds and armed conflict as a contribution to prevention and settlement of conflicts”, noted that the scheme had made a valuable contribution to international security, development and human rights.

She said, “Fifteen years ago […] the global diamond trade looked very different than that of today.  At that time, diamonds were mined in conflict zones, while at the other end of the supply chain, customers had little or no way to know where the diamonds had originated.  The Kimberley Process cut the flow of diamonds to insurgencies and rebel groups, who would sacrifice peace and development for their own power.  By safeguarding the legitimate diamond trade, it improved the livelihoods of those relying on it to feed and educate their families.”

Quoting studies that showed that young people today were three times more likely than older generations to avoid diamonds unless they had been responsibly sourced, Bishop nevertheless called on the international community to examine new ways to align the diamond trade with the 2030 Agenda and sustaining peace, and said it should seek a diamond market free from human rights abuses and forced labour. 

Bishop said that the resolution was a critical link between the Kimberley Process’ excellent work and its potential to contribute to the broader United Nations agenda by requesting the establishment of a dedicated secretariat and a multi‑donor trust fund to support broad‑based participation.

EU representative Antonio Parenti welcomed the decision to set up an Ad Hoc Committee on Review and Reform, which would enhance administrative and financial support to the Process. He said the EU would use the 2018 Chairmanship to promote open dialogue among the three pillars of the Kimberley Process:  governments, industry and civil society.  Overall, the European Union would aim to strengthen the mechanism’s effectiveness in peacebuilding, conflict prevention and the promotion of in‑country due diligence, he stated.

Speaking on behalf of Israel, Noa Furman declared:  “Conflict‑free diamonds bring the world a step closer to ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity.”  Elaborating on how the Kimberley Process intertwined with the 2030 Agenda, she said that the diamond industry provided almost 40,000 jobs in sub‑Saharan Africa alone, and the revenues it earned had broadened access to education and health care there.  She said that though it has appeared as an unprecedented goal in 2003, today the reality was that 99.8 per cent of the world’s diamonds are considered conflict‑free.  However, that 0.2 per cent must be addressed, she said, emphasizing that Israel had been the first to harness technology for use in the Kimberley Process by computerizing diamond imports, which were examined at customs, and leaving zero margin for error.

The Botswana representative Charles T. Ntwaagae ponted out that his country had benefited from diamond‑related socio-economic gains over the past century, having graduated from being one of the world’s poorest countries to a middle‑income nation.  Indeed, diamond sales had fostered the implementation of national development plans alongside the 2030 Agenda and the African Union Agenda 2063, he stated, adding that the proper management of diamonds was crucial to achieving peace. 

Noting that Botswana was a founding member of the certification scheme, he cited a 2017 report detailing significant strides in regulating and monitoring the diamond trade.  However, there was an urgent need to reform and strengthen the Kimberley Process to address the emerging challenges of synthetic diamonds and Government capacity constraints in establishing regulation, Ntwaagae concluded.