Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition

Closing remarks of the Civil Society Coalition at the Kimberley Process Intersessional meeting in Zimbabwe

The Kimberley Process is a very diverse group and there are few things on which all of us agree. Even though it tends to be particularly those elements that we as civil society bring forward that invoke most unease and resistance, I am quite sure that all of you will agree with me on this one thing, namely that the discussions we are having at present are difficult.

We welcome and appreciate that some more participants stopped hiding in silence or behind procedural excuses and started engaging in these uneasy discussions. They have started explaining their views on why certain reform proposals pose difficulties to them and on how they would want the ideal Kimberley Process to look like. We will need much more of this, if we want to steer this ship out of troubled waters and avoid it from sinking.

No country can handle the big challenges of the diamond sector, which we have raised in our opening statement and throughout this week, on its own. International and multi-stakeholder cooperation must be the solution and therefore it is our moral duty to remain optimist and keep hope that these discussions and meetings can contribute to meaningful change.

The Kimberley Process is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Many like to refer to this group as a family, but if it is, then it urgently needs counselling to deal with all the rivalry, tensions, and unspoken frustrations. This so-called family is getting particularly used to the elephants in the room. The KP has a mandate to prevent conflict but cannot discuss the ongoing aggression of one KP member against another.  The KP has a mandate to ensure a conflict-free diamond trade, but does not want to hear about conflict caused by state agents from the police or the military.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Consumers are and will become more and more critical. They care, not only about the certification of rough diamonds but about the entire diamond supply chain and its various impacts, both positive and negative. Participants should not become lenient, or the Kimberley Process will erode itself. Now is the time to act to make the KP fit for purpose.

During this intersessional, we have not seen any reasonable progress concerning the Central African Republic (CAR), the one and only country where the narrow definition of conflict diamonds applies today. The people of the Central African Republic continue to suffer from widespread insecurity, especially in diamond mining areas. The KP needs to find a solution that balances community interests, national economic development and protecting local communities in CAR.

Geopolitics should not prevent the Kimberley Process to stop the flow of conflicts diamonds because communities are the first impacted. Participants should also not hide behind the KP mandate to allow diamonds to bring positive change because this is exactly what review and reform is all about. Let us be constructive and adopt the review spirit the Kimberley Process needs so deeply to address current day challenges.

We need to take a comprehensive approach to the current review and reform cycle to not only prevent diamonds stained by violence to enter the supply chain but also increase the benefits of diamond mining for communities. This applies particularly for the expanded conflict diamond definition.

“What does conflict look like?” We all know that diamonds can be tainted with many kinds of violence and human rights violations. We need to be clear on what the actions are that bring suffering and human rights violations, the actors that can commit them, where the harm is done and the measures that those violations may trigger. Bad things do happen throughout the supply chain. Polishing and cutting does not remove the stains of violence and poverty from a diamond.

But we also need to promote the good that diamond mining can potentially bring. We call on participants to embrace and implement the Frame 7 principles to promote a responsible sourced diamond, mined with respect for labour rights, human rights, environmental protection, development of local communities, and anti-corruption. Technical assistance can be provided to participants that may be struggling with compliance. Implementation of an expanded definition based on human rights language may in fact be one area where participants that are struggling may be assisted with technical assistance or capacity building.

Throughout this reform cycle let the KP also act on the challenges that are unique to women in mining communities. These include decision making, the division of benefits from mining proceeds, women’s safety and security, etc. All discussions on diamond mining should consider the issues of women.

The holistic approach to reform should be the KP’s main priority. With an ever more critical consumer, let an external evaluation trigger governments and industry to do better to tackle current day challenges.

Let the industry seriously consider how self-destructive it is to sell diamonds tainted by violence, human rights violations or environmental damage. Serious reform based on an objective analysis and an assessment of today’s challenges is the only way to secure that the KP is still relevant when we mark the 30th anniversary.

Let us mark this 20th anniversary meeting by critically assessing where the KP fails to work for the people. Let us bring it back to the UN, where the KP started and ask a UN body to evaluate this Process. We are convinced that the KP needs an external evaluation to get this scheme out of its insular logic obsessed with rules and procedures and back in touch with the reality of its core conflict prevention mandate. As we said already in our opening statement, we need clarity, for ourselves but also for our consumer and community constituents on what the KP actually does and does not do, what it does well, what it can do better and where it is completely failing.

Dr. Michel YOBOUE

For the Civil Society Coalition

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