New York--The World Diamond Council is calling for productive dialogue and the need for reform in the Kimberley Process ahead of the KP’s annual meeting, which is scheduled to begin Friday in Australia.

Speaking via conference call Wednesday morning, acting WDC President Stephane Fischler told reporters that there are three areas in need of reform within the KP, and No. 1 is broadening the scope of the process.

Currently, the KP defines “conflict” diamonds as those used by rebel groups to fund conflict against legitimate governments. But, as Fischler noted Wednesday, “We [the WDC] believe the nature of conflict has changed and so the scope should realign with that.”

In an interview via phone with National Jeweler later in the day, he elaborated.

The situation today is that there is less much rebel activity, Fischler said, and much more systematic, disruptive violence, particularly in artisanal diamond mining areas.

Members of the KP need to start listening more carefully to the countries where this type of violence is happening and work to make a difference on the ground, he said.

And the process itself needs to become more proactive than reactive, flagging areas of diamond production when the situation becomes unstable, instead of waiting until actual conflict has broken out.

2017 WDC logo
The WDC was in favor of expanding the definition of conflict back in 2012, when the United States chaired the process and was pushing for the inclusion of human rights violations in the definition.

The expanded definition was voted down at the meeting held in Washington that November.

Fischler told National Jeweler Wednesday that he doesn’t know if that vote was against the inclusion of human rights language so much as it was a “generic reluctance” to change the core focus of the definition, given that the KP has been very successful in doing what it set out to do--eradicate conflict diamonds as originally defined.

He said what the WDC is putting on the table now is broader--examining the general scope of the process, not just narrowly focusing on putting in more human rights language--and the organization isn’t looking to get bogged down in semantics. It’s open to all discussions on how to expand the KP’s reach.

While the WDC represents the diamond industry in the KP, the body does not have a vote; only the 81 countries that are KP members do. And under the KP’s complete consensus model, passing anything requires all 81 countries to agree to it.

When asked how difficult he thinks it will be to pass a measure expanding the scope of the KP at the upcoming meeting, Fischler said the WDC doesn’t expect to come away from the plenary with a decision. The WDC is merely looking to start the discussion.

“This isn’t a 48-hour or even a week’s discussion,” he said. “This is an incremental progress type of debate.”

On Wednesday’s call with reporters, Fischler addressed another area of reform that is needed within the KP: the establishment of a permanent secretariat based in a neutral country.

As it stands, an administrative support mechanism is in place to handle the operational aspects of the Kimberley Process. It is a function that’s reassigned every year as the chair of the process is passed from country to country. (Australia is the 2017 chair nation. Next year, Vice Chair the European Union is set to take over and India will become vice chair.)

He said a permanent secretariat will ensure more continuity, essentially giving the KP a “memory,” and that all member countries should contribute toward the cost of funding it.

The idea of a permanent secretariat is one that has been on the table for a couple of years.

At last year’s plenary, confusion surrounded the vote on this issue.

Following the meeting, the UAE, which chaired the process last year, issued a press release heralding that the KP had reached a “historic agreement” that included voting to approve the establishment of a permanent secretariat for the process.

The issue, however, still seems to be on the table, given that its passage is one of the WDC’s list of needed reforms for the process.

Asked about the confusion surrounding the vote at last year’s plenary, Fischler said, “The idea was launched; it wasn’t worked out in the way that I believe it’s worked out now.”

The KP Plenary is scheduled to start this Friday, Dec. 9 and continue until the 14th in Brisbane, Australia.

|Subscribe >
National Jeweler

Fine Jewelry Industry News

Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.