Kimberley Process Inches Forward
Delegates expect to approve minimum standards by year's end
Delegates at the eighth meeting of the Kimberley Process, held Sept. 11-13 in England, made progress toward completion of an international certification system for rough diamonds. The system is intended to purge conflict diamonds from the legitimate trade supply. The Kimberley Process involves importing and exporting countries, the diamond industry through its World Diamond Council and other non-governmental observers, including human rights groups.
According to World Diamond Council delegates, the only problem to surface in the latest meeting resulted from comments by Tom DeVries, an official of the European Union. Because EU countries belong to an economic union, he said, any controls would be treated as a matter of sovereignty for the EU and, therefore, could not be imposed on individual countries. (An approximate analogy is that individual states in the U.S. dont each have to undergo a rigorous system of controls.)
DeVries comments brought heated debate. Representatives of non-governmental organizations and WDC delegates said a lack of controls for individual countries could lead to loopholes that would allow conflict diamonds to enter the distribution system.
Producing countries also objected, saying it would be unfair if the controls affect them but not importing countries.
Though the impasse wasnt resolved, some delegates said they feel it can be.
Where the Delegates Agreed
Delegates agreed in principle to the following elements of the certification program:
- The use of forgery-resistant certificates and tamper-proof containers to ship rough diamonds.
- Internal controls that provide credible assurance that conflict diamonds dont enter the legal market.
- A certification process for all exports of rough diamonds.
- The collation and sharing of import and export information with other participants with relevant production.
- Credible monitoring and oversight of the program.
- Effective enforcement of the penalties for violations.
- The sharing of information with all other participants on relevant rules, procedures and legislation, as well as examples of national certificates used to accompany shipments.
Finalization of minimum common standards was expected during two final meetings of the Kimberley Process in late October and November. The Kimberley Process was expected to report to the 56th session of the United Nations General Assembly in November on progress achieved.
by Robert Weldon, G.G.