By Michelle Graff
The Kimberley Process is down under the chairmanship of the European Union with India as vice chair. Its next meeting is scheduled to take place in June in Antwerp.
Antwerp--The non-governmental organizations involved in the Kimberley Process met in Antwerp last week to discuss their future in the KP and to appoint new leadership following the departure of Impact.

Nine out of the 10 NGOs that comprise the KP’s Civil Society Coalition attended the meeting, which also included talks with World Diamond Council President Stephane Fischler and the current KP Chair Hilde Hardeman.

Hardeman took over as KP chair in January, representing the KP member that is leading the process this year, the European Union. She heads the European Commission’s Service for Foreign Policy Instruments, which handles a range of foreign policy issues, and is fluent in seven languages: Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Polish and Russian.

The coalition said it used the meeting to “reflect” on its role in the KP—at the end of 2017, key NGO Impact left the process, citing a lack of progress on key issues—but reaffirmed its core mandate, to defend the rights of local communities affected by diamond mining activities.

The NGOs also picked a new leader for the Civil Society Coalition to replace Impact, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), a Harare-based organization that uses the law to protect communities and to conserve both natural resources and the environment in Zimbabwe.

The coalition said in the year ahead, it is looking to the EU to push forward a reform agenda that would include a broadening of the definition of “conflict” diamond. A “conflict” diamond is now defined as one used by rebel groups to fund conflict against legitimate governments, and does not include specific language about human rights violations, an addition many involved with the process have been pushing for now for several years.

KP members voted at the 2017 plenary meeting in Brisbane to form an Ad Hoc Committee on Review and Reform, which is set to begin ways to evolve the process this year.

The coalition also said it is looking to the EU to “secure and enlarge” space for civil society with the KP and ensure the coalition is taken seriously and treated respectfully by other KP members and observers.

The KP’s intersessional, the first of the two major meetings it has throughout the year, is scheduled to take place June 19 to 22 in Antwerp.

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