Kimberley Process Chair Milovanovic calls on members to support institution's 'evolution'

Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) Chair Gillian Milovanovic called on members of the diamond industry to rise to the challenge of supporting the "evolution" of the KPCS to ensure ongoing consumer confidence in her speech to the 35th World Diamond Congress in Mumbai. Noting the critical role the KPCS has played in curbing trade in conflict diamonds, she said the body had to build on those achievements and not simply stand still.

The KP has to adopt a new definition of conflict diamonds that will "encompass agreed situations of conflict in which diamonds are directly involved.  There should be a definition that applies clearly and predictably to every participant, and one that ensures that KP Certification Scheme assurances correspond to the evolving expectations of consumers."

She stressed the process was one of evolution, and called on members of the diamond business globally to play an active part in the debate, to share their experiences, to seek clarity, to make practical suggestions, and to be flexible in their negotiating positions. "I believe that clinging to the status quo, no matter the very real achievements of the past 10 years, will eventually undermine the KP and the diamond industry it is designed to help and protect.  Changes carefully considered and crafted, and adopted by consensus in the KP tradition, on the other hand, will have a strongly positive effect on all segments of the diamond world," she said.

She said the proposals for change focused on three key elements. These were that KP certificates continue to ensure that rough diamonds are free from conflict; and certification should not address human rights, financial transparency, and economic development, which are better advanced through the exchange of best practices.

Secondly, additional certification standards beyond the current definition should apply only to armed conflict/violence that is demonstrably related to rough diamonds and independently verified.  It should not apply to isolated, individual incidents, or to circumstances or situations in which an armed conflict exists unrelated to the diamond sector.

Thirdly, KP safeguards could be implemented site-by-site, consistent with systems for other conflict minerals, such as the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region certification system.

The U.S. proposal to change the definition contains these elements, as well as others, and it works entirely within the existing processes of the KP, and provides for decisions based on the findings of a review mission and decisions can only be made by consensus of the KP Plenary.

Milovanovic stressed the importance of effective enforcement, saying it was crucial for the successful evolution of the KP.  She said the World Customs Organization and other bodies are organizing a conference on the margins of the KP Plenary in November which will include only law enforcement and customs officials, so they can push their cooperation further across borders.

"KP countries are catching an increased number of false certificates, and we have ensured that they are sent immediately to the World Customs Organization and are uploaded to a central location on the KP website so customs officials worldwide have access to them.  Many countries - India chief among them - are reporting higher levels of enforcement action against illicit trade.  Slowly but surely, we are getting better at improving implementation and enforcing the rules."

She underlined the KP's need for the diamond industry's help in improving enforcement, whether as individual companies or in association with others, since governments alone cannot do everything. This includes reporting illicit activity and asking for the KP to be notified, educating employees in identifying fraudulent certificates, and ensuring that industry self-regulation practices are up to date