At the end of the weeklong Kimberley Process Plenary Meeting in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, the KP Civil Society Coalition walked out of the negotiations on the final communique at 2am in the morning. “We have been pushing tirelessly to break the links between diamonds and conflict. We want to see action, but we can’t even agree on simple words”, said civil society coordinator – Dr. Michel Yoboué.
This Plenary can’t even note the simple fact that it received a letter from Ukraine on the role of diamonds in financing Russia’s war against Ukraine. We can no longer observe this sad spectacle that continues to erode responsible diamond governance. We have no confidence in these discussions and will now leave this meeting. We can only hope that a good crisis can serve as catharsis and will finally get some sense into this deadlocked process.
Discussions on the communique were supposed to conclude at 4pm but went on until 4:30 am to finally end in chaos without a clear agreement. It is unclear where this leaves the Kimberley Process and how to move forward now. One of the main stumbling blocks was how to address the role of diamonds in financing Russia’s war against Ukraine. Since last year, efforts to include this matter on the agenda of KP meetings have been blocked by a small group of KP Participants.
For the second year in a row, protracted discussions meant that civil society did not get the opportunity to deliver its closing remarks. “We wanted to use our slot to let the many government and industry representatives directly hear from the communities the KP claims to support, but to whom many never want to listen. We were in touch with the communities we work with in Sierra Leone this week. We recorded a testimony that reflects the multitude of adverse impacts of diamonds. It is the duty of the governments and industry gathered in the KP to tackle these challenges”, says Dr. Yoboué.
These are the closing remarks we had prepared: