The 2022 Plenary of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) came to an end on the 5th of November 2022, at 4:30am in the morning. The meeting dragged on from the evening of 4 November to the following day because the certification scheme continues to apply 20-year-old conflict resolution strategies to today’s global conflicts. The implications of aggression by one participant against another is an emerging KP flashpoint and is causing a rift within the Kimberley Process family.
The KP Civil Society Coalition (CSC) deplored the many internal contestations that threaten the credibility of the certification scheme and reiterated its call for a serious KP reform. The KP CSC is disappointed that the diamond trade mechanism is today held to ransom by the very participants who have benefited immensely from it at the expense of the communities affected by the extraction and trading of diamonds. Some participants continue to object to the discussion of emerging conflicts in diamond producing and trading countries citing politicisation of the KPCS.
“Diamonds, a catalyst for sustainable development” was the apt theme selected by Botswana, the KP Chair, for this year’s plenary. The KP CSC called on participants to act on this well-articulated challenge rather than hiding behind so called politicisation, just to maintain the status quo which is not beneficial to diamond communities. Making diamonds a catalyst for sustainable development demands political will and actions.
Trade and conflict prevention
The KP CSC reminded the Plenary that the KPCS was set up to solve a political problem, fuelled by diamond trade, which was ravaging Angola, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Rebel groups used revenue from diamonds to fight legitimate governments. The failure by the KPCS to discuss today’s conflicts and violence which includes aggression and war against fellow KP members using diamond revenues, erodes the credibility of the certification Scheme. In as much as the KPCS is a trade mechanism, it is even more so a platform to resolve political and non-political conflicts sponsored through diamond revenues. The very functioning of the KP is in essence political, for non-governmental voices have no decision-making power and, as far as civil society is concerned, are brushed aside and even ignored.
The Civil Society Coalition calls on all participants not to shy away from explicitly and firmly denouncing all forms of violence brought to communities affected by diamond mining. That includes human rights violations and violations of International Humanitarian law and the attack on a fellow KP Participant by Russia. It includes the environmental damage suffered by communities affected by diamond mining and governments sponsoring rebel groups to access natural resources.
The coalition is disappointed that decision making is not listed as an item for discussion in the reform agenda. Participants have hijacked the KP, making it difficult for the certification scheme to move forward as they use the consensus decision making to block any progress.
The KPCS’ failure to reform is rooted in the consensus decision making model which is abused by anti-progressive participants who are keen to entrench the status quo. The consensus decision making model was never designed to block progress.
Historically the consensus decision model is grounded in the ethical belief in the collective responsibility of all for the welfare of the communities, not the irresponsible manner in which the KPCS now applies it. For us, the design of a genuine consensus model for KP CS decision making merits discussion.
Call on silent majority to speak up
Progress within the KP is also held back by the silent majority. Silence in times of crises like the ones the KPCS is facing, makes them complicit in rendering the certification scheme into an irrelevant body. An irrelevant KPCS that does not guarantee peace and security in producing and trading countries will harm consumer confidence and impact communities negatively with loss of livelihood.
We urge the incoming chair, Zimbabwe, to organise a ministerial meeting on Kimberley Process reforms to take stock of the political will of all participants to achieve reforms.
Equality and tripartite structure key to stability of KP CS
Civil Society Coalition members continue to be target for attacks, intimidation and insults from some participants, further jeopardising the tripartite platform on which the KP is anchored. We re-emphasise that, while Civil Society Coalition has Observer status, the KP is standing on three pillars. Attempts to pull down one pillar will invariably collapse the certification scheme.
The views of civil society matter. In fact, civil society brought the very reasons for the establishment of this scheme to the attention of the United Nations while governments were in denial and defensive mode about conflicts sponsored through diamond revenue in their countries.
Integrity of the KP CS at stake
The KP CSC does commend the efforts by Botswana to set the tone and the agenda for the Review and Reform of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. Reform is more than necessary because the Certification Scheme continues to apply 20-year-old conflict resolution strategies to today’s global conflicts.
The KP Civil Society Coalition also applauds the plenary for progress made in identifying the host for the permanent secretariat, the launch of the reform agenda and quick turnaround of reports by review visit teams. We commend South Africa and Zimbabwe for setting the bar. The Coalition calls upon the KP to maintain the standard or even push the bar higher in the numerous upcoming peer review visits.
Whilst thanking the outgoing chair, the Civil Society Coalition calls on the incoming chair to be firm and protect the integrity of the KPCS by upholding high standards and applying rules and procedures to the latter.
Dr Michel Yoboué,
Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition Coordinator (GRPIE)
+225 (0)7 58 09 17 83 – firstname.lastname@example.org