October 31, 2003
Kimberley Group Votes for Voluntary Monitoring
Kimberley Process Certification Scheme participants, meeting in Sun City, South Africa, Oct. 29-31, unanimously agreed yesterday to a voluntary peer review mechanism. Critics and supporters of the scheme lobbied for the peer review. The plan calls for countries to volunteer their certification systems for review to be checked for compliance with the rules. The Kimberley Scheme, which became fully effective at the end of August, requires participating countries to regulate their diamond trading communities, export and import rough diamonds in sealed packages and certify diamonds are bought from legitimate sources not used to fund conflict.
Significantly, the Democratic Republic of Congo already volunteered to have a peer review group go there to check out the credibility of its certification system, according to the Financial Times of London. Critics say the country is not following the rules of the scheme.
Human rights groups hoped to push through regular independent monitoring missions to all countries every three years, but say they were encouraged when a voluntary system was adopted. They say countries publicized as suspect, such as DRC, will be pressured into volunteering for reviews to clear their names so that other nations will continue to trade with them. "A noncompliant country will find that it just loses business," Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, South Africa's minister of energy and minerals, tells FT. "Everyone will want to get the seal of approval, and this will ensure the credibility of the Kimberley Process," adds Eli Izhakoff, chairman and CEO of the World Diamond Council.
Izhakoff, in a prepared statement, also applauded the election of Canada and Russia as the new chair and vice-chair countries to lead the Kimberley Process in 2004. They succeed South Africa, which chaired the process since it began in 2000.
The meeting also issued an updated Kimberley Process participants list. It includes the following countries and economic intergration organizations:
Angola, Armenia, Australia
Belarus, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria
Canada, Central African Republic, People's Republic of China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Cote D' Ivoire, Croatia
Republic of Korea
People's Republic of Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho
Romania, Russian Federation
Sierra Leone, Slovenia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Switzerland
Tanzania, Thailand, Togo
Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States of America
The rough diamond trading entity of the Chinese Taipei has also met the minimum requirements of the KPCS.
Countries and regional economic integration organizations who have yet to meet the minimum requirements of the KPCS are encouraged to continue their efforts to become Kimberley Process members. The participation committee says it will continue to receive and assess documentation submitted to them. Submissions that are judged compliant with the minimum requirements of the KPCS will be approved without delay.
by Peggy Jo Donahue