UN Reaffirms Kimberley Process

December 22, 2005

UN Reaffirms Kimberley Process

The United Nations General Assembly approved on Dec. 20 a resolution reaffirming the UN's support for the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, according to Mineweb.com. In an address to the General Assembly in New York City, Russian U.N. Ambassador Andrey Denisov declared that "to date the Kimberley process has made substantial progress" as an effective tool to prevent conflicts. The Russian Federation currently chairs the Kimberley Process group.

However, Botswana, the incoming KP country chair, stressed that the success of the process "depends on full compliance" of nations which produce rough diamonds. Nevertheless, Botswana's representative told the General Assembly that he was "encouraged by the general atmosphere and the willingness to work together" to solve the problems of conflict diamond sales finding their way into legitimate markets.

Fellow major diamond producer Canada emphasized that corporations representing 99.8% of total global diamond production are participating in the certification process. The Canadian representative noted that $32 billion in rough diamonds were produced in 2004 (up from $22 billion in 2003) while 156,000 KP certifications were issued the same year.

Canada's representative asserted that implementation of KP certification improved the revenue-generating capacity of Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Sierra Leone. For instance, she estimated that the national government of the DRC earned $720 million from rough diamonds under KP, more than double the $395 million in diamond income reported in 2002. She noted that Angola and Sierra Leona are recovering from the damage of rebel forces funded by conflict diamonds, while Liberia which is the process of implementing a Kimberley Process certification program, has recently elected a democratic government.

However, the Canadian representative warned that the UN "will continue to face the challenge of rebel diamond production in Côte d'Ivoire." She estimated that the conflict diamond trade in Ivory Coast continues to "generate millions of dollars to destabilize the entire region."

On Dec. 16, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution to ban imports of rough diamond from the Ivory Coast. The nation is mired by a three-year-old civil war that split the country in two when rebels seized the northern part of the country. The Security Council resolution linked illegal trading of these diamonds with the trafficking of weapons in the Ivory Coast.

Among the concerns expressed by Canada were an "urgent need for assessment of Côte d'Ivoire diamond production" and "the need to access the volume of exports and to identify where illicit diamonds could be entering the legitimate market."

The European Community observer called the KP "a uniquely promising and effective tool for conflict prevention." She added that the EC was particularly pleased that the United States agreed to coordinate and provide technical assistance for the KP Subgroup on Alluvial Production. The EC is the in-coming vice country chair of the Kimberley Process group.

All four speakers emphasized the critical need for data gathering and analysis to stem the flow of conflict diamonds into legitimate markets. The resolution adopted Tuesday will help to improve those processes.

On Tuesday, the UN Security Council also renewed diamond and timber sanctions on Liberia for another six months, citing the "chronic corruption and incompetence" of the transitional government. That government ends in January when a democratically elected government, headed by Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, a former UN official, assumes the presidency.

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