United Nations approves resolution on Conflict Diamonds from Milovanovic

The General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously adopted a resolution introduced by outgoing U.S. Kimberley Process (KP) Chair Gillian Milovanovic on the role of the KP in helping eliminate the trade in conflict diamonds.

The resolution, introduced on December 18, less than two weeks before ending her term in office, notes the devastating impact that the trade in conflict diamonds had on the peace, safety and security of people in affected countries. It also welcomed the important contribution of the Kimberley Process.

It also noted that the implementation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme continued to have a positive impact in reducing the opportunity for conflict diamonds to play a role in fuelling armed conflict.

It said that the KP would help to protect the legitimate trade and ensure the effective implementation of the relevant UN resolutions relating to conflict diamonds. It also acknowledged that lessons learned from the KP might be useful for the work of the UN Peace Building Commission.

Ambassador Milovanovic told the General Assembly that the United States felt that it was an enormous responsibility to lead that process.

She highlighted several of the achievements of the Kimberley Process. The KP’s participants and its observers from both industry and civil society had together made possible improved registration of miners in Ghana and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, she said.

The KP had also enhanced understanding of diamond valuation and had improved mining techniques in Sierra Leone and Guyana, and had contributed to the ensuring of land use rights and stable income for artisanal miners in Central African Republic and Liberia, reducing the likelihood of conflict.

Milovanovic said her mission was to lay the foundation for South Africa, the 2013 chair, to launch the system into its second decade “as a stronger and more effective process”.

“The race for excellence has no finish line,” she says. Under the chairmanship of the United States, the KP had started demonstrating that willingness. The discussion on the changes to the core definition of conflict diamonds would continue under South Africa’s chairmanship through an inclusive process the United States had started.

She welcomed the admission into the KP of Cameroon in August and of Cambodia, Kazakhstan and Panama in November as full participants in the process. Burkina Faso, Kenya and Mali had attended the KP Plenary meeting in November, and she expressed the hope that those countries would join soon.

Americo Beviglia Zampetti, the representative of the European Union delegation, welcomed the strengthening of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and the approval in the recent KP Plenary Meeting of an Administrative Decision on Selection, Engagement and Operation of a Kimberley Process Administrative Support Mechanism, as well as the selection of the World Diamond Council to host the mechanism.

Zampetti said that the revised guidelines for the Participation Committee were welcomed, among other initiatives on the matter. As chair of the Working Group on Monitoring, the European Union had actively contributed to the development of those new tools and it encouraged participants' continued commitment to scrutiny through review visits, as well as the submission of substantive annual reports.

The KP’s engagement with Côte d’Ivoire, Zampetti said, illustrated the positive role that it could play in situations where production and trade of diamonds might affect peace and security. As the new chair of the Friends of Côte d’Ivoire group, the EU was determined to further support Ivorian efforts to reintegrate the KPCS and ensure that Ivorian diamonds would contribute to recovery and development, rather than to conflict.

On the issue of the KP approving the export of diamonds from Zimbabwe’s controversial Marange mining area, Zampetti pointed out that it had been a testimony to the KP’s ability to resolve situations of non-compliance.

Ambassador Ron Prosor of Israel said that as a proud co-sponsor of the draft resolution, Israel endorsed the KP's decision to introduce more regular review visits, broader expert participation and more stringent requirements for reporting. It also supported the decision to integrate artisanal and small-scale diamond mining in the certification scheme.

Yet, there remained much work to do, he said, stressing the need to keep improving implementation of the KPCS. In that regard, the Civil Society Coalition must be fully involved in the Process, particularly in monitoring implementation, country by country, he stated.

Russia’s Deputy Permanent UN Representative Dmitry I. Maksimychev urged participants not to press ahead with hasty reforms, and notes specifically “persistent attempts to redefine conflict diamonds”. Attention should be focused on perfecting the work of the KPCS in its current form, he stated, saying that to artificially politicize it would have a negative effect on it achieving its core tasks.

Efforts should be aimed at motivating states to participate in its work, Maksimychev said. Sanctions failed to provide positive results, and instead, led to gray areas of trade. He called for the pooling of the efforts of states, industry and civil society with full compliance with international law and respect for state sovereignty. In that regard, he did not see the likelihood of empowering non-governmental organizations with rights in regards to implementing the KPCS.

Doctor Mashabane, Deputy Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, said that the diamond industry played a major role in driving the economic growth and prosperity in many countries, especially in Africa and the rest of the developing world.

During the KP’s recent plenary session in Washington, D.C., Mashabane stated, significant progress had been made in strengthening controls on the global trade of rough diamonds.

In particular, he said, the decision to lift the special monitoring measures that had been placed on the Marange diamond fields was highly commendable. He applauded the Zimbabwean authorities, industry and civil society coalition that had complied with the requirements. “It is our fervent hope that this development will pave the way for the lifting of sanctions imposed by the [U.S.] government on the trade of diamonds from the Marange area,” he states.

The lifting of the 2009 Swakopmund Administrative Decision on Guinea was also welcome, Mashabane said, as it would enhance Guinea’s efforts to attract investments and to fully harness the economic potential of its diamond sector. In that regard, the efforts of the Côte d’Ivoire government to put in place the KP’s minimum standards were also welcomed.

Concluding, he said that as South Africa prepared to take the “leadership baton” from the United States as Chair of the KP, his country recognized the challenges ahead in driving the reform agenda.

Panama’s Deputy Permanent Representative Mission to the United Nations, Carlos Amado Ruiz Hernandez, expressed his delegation’s support for the KP, and said that it had a positive effect on stemming the role of diamonds fuelling conflict and supporting legitimate trade.

Hernandez congratulated Cambodia and Kazakhstan, which had joined his country in recently being admitted as full KP participants, and he thanked the United States in its role as chair for such an inclusion. Panama, he said, looked forward to strengthening the efforts of the KP and working towards a world free of conflict diamonds.

Hernandez offered congratulations to the delegation of South Africa in its role as the new KP Chair, stating that its leadership would strengthen both the Kimberley Process and the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.