KP Chair Milovanovic Asks if KP Certificate Still Giving Consumers Assurances

Kimberley Process (KP) Chair, Ambassador Gillan Milovanovic, asked the Zimbabwe Diamond Conference if the KP certificate "still provides the assurances that consumers want" and if the global diamond trade is sure that it is investing adequately in the future of the Kimberley Process?

"With respect, I would submit that we must do more," she says. "Consumers are - or will be - looking for more, and that the core definition of 'conflict diamond' therefore needs to be updated as our own investment in the KP's future as a modern and relevant system of certification, just as other industries are doing as we speak."

She said that following consultation with key leaders in government, industry, and civil society, she was proposing three key reforms.

KP certificates must continue to be focused on ensuring that rough diamonds are free from armed conflict and armed violence; KP certification is not designed to address human rights, financial transparency, economic development, or other important questions though they clearly impact the diamond sector. The KP and its members can and should make further progress on issues like these through the exchange of best practices and voluntary initiatives. KP certificates, however, must continue to be focused on ensuring that rough diamonds are free from conflict.

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

Finally, KP safeguards should be implemented on a site-by-site basis, consistent with systems for other conflict minerals.

The U.S. proposal to change the definition contains these elements, and works exclusively through existing KP processes, notably with respect to assessments and decision-making.

She called on members of the global diamond sector to propose suggestions for modification, since the conflict diamond definition proposal is intended to initiate discussion with other participant governments, industry representatives, and civil society organizations. "It is meant to be a starting point, not a take-it-or-leave-it proposition," she comments. "We need practical ideas and constructive suggestions in order to have a free and frank discussion that leads to a KP that is prepared for the future."

In cases where there is concern that a conflict is diamond-related, the goal would be to objectively assess the situation in conjunction with the relevant country. If the conflict does not fit the definition the issue would be closed. If the conflict does fit the definition, the approach would be to assist and resolve, not punish, and the KP would seek to help the country to rectify the situation, she explained.

Only if these efforts are exhausted and the problem persist would a limitation on the right to issue a KP certificate for rough diamonds originating at the concerned site be considered. "The purpose is not to punish or exclude, but first to help a country with a problem to find solutions to fix that problem and only as a last resort move towards limitations on the issuance of KP certificates. All along, we ensure that it is the stakeholders in the diamond sector, from producing countries to manufacturing countries to all elements of industry and civil society, who are focused on making the decisions that affect the KP and the rough diamond supply chain," she says.

She added that it was important "to focus on is that evolution and change are necessary. Sooner or later, institutions that do not have the capacity to change are doomed to irrelevance and businesses that fail to keep pace with the market will suffer as a result. Neither the Kimberley Process nor the diamond sector as whole can afford to be relegated to irrelevance. Too much is at stake."

She explained that the KP has the expertise and capacity to continue to play a positive role in the sector by preserving the reputation of diamonds and ensuring this trade, on which so many people depend, is not fueling armed conflict or violence.

"There is also a need to more directly and consistently invest in the miners and mining communities themselves," she says. "KP certification should not be conditioned on development issues. But the subject of integrating development into the KP deserves to be highlighted, because it affects those workers within the diamond sector who are the most vulnerable, and because it can make a broader, lasting contribution. In this context, I would like to make special mention of an Angola-led initiative that I sincerely hope attracts consensus and is adopted at the Plenary [meeting in Washington, D.C.] later this month.

"I will end by expressing my hope that we can come together here to give the KP the same bright future you hope to launch for Zimbabwe this week. Sustained communication and information sharing, systematic transparency, and open dialogue with all stakeholders are key elements of success, whether we speak of Zimbabwe and its aspirations for the future, or of the Kimberley Process and its evolution to meet the challenges of its second decade and beyond.

"The KP's most recent monitoring report on mining in the Marange region notes positive trends with respect to the mining capabilities of the new ventures, state-of-the-art security systems, local civil society organizations and the press obtaining access to Marange and a continuing decline in the number of security incidents related to artisanal miners operating in the tenure areas. This is to be commended, and it is our hope, as Chair, that this trend will continue," she says.

She added that since the KP was launched in 2003 in Kimberley, South Africa, it was apt that South Africa will assume the Chairmanship in 2013 for the tenth anniversary of the KP. She said she hoped that South Africa "will continue initiatives that carry the KP further in the coming decades and sustain its relevance."