NOVEMBER 15, 2021
ABOVE: The 2021 KP Plenary in session in Moscow, Russia, on November 12, the final day of the event.
WDC President Edward Asscher struck a positive tone in a statement made at end of the Closing Session of the 2021 Kimberley Process (KP) Plenary on November 12, noting that he was encouraged by the KP’s constructive discussions and its welcoming of a Declaration on Supporting Principles for Responsible Diamond Sourcing as Best Practices.
“This is a positive step that further highlights the important role of the KP in stemming the flow of conflict diamonds,” the WDC President said.
While the WDC would have preferred that the KP make concrete decision about the expansion of the conflict diamond definition, Mr. Asscher said “we always seek to support journeys of continuous improvement, and so we will continue to push for progress.” He added that the WDC will place the conflict diamond definition as a priority item, when the KP begins its next Review Cycle.
The WDC will “always seek to support journeys of continuous improvement, and so we will continue to push for progress,” WDC President Edward Asscher told the Closing Session of the 2021 KP Plenary.
While it continues to encourage the KP to make the progress that is necessary both to protect the security and wellbeing of all individuals working and living in diamond producing regions, and to satisfy consumer confidence, the WDC has selected to move ahead on its own, introducing its revised System of Warranties, the WDC President said.
“This holistic approach is imperative for all of us in the business of selling diamonds, because who today wants to buy a pair of sneakers, a t-shirt, coffee beans or chocolate – let alone emotionally symbolic jewelry – if there is any doubt about the conditions in which its components were sourced and the impacts they had on society,” Mr. Asscher stated.
“The System of Warranties is only the beginning,” he continued. “As, I said, our guiding principle is that we are on a journey of continual improvement. And we will do so in such a way that two principles are maintained at all times: (1) we must be fair to all concerned, which in practice means moving forward in the spirit of the Declaration on Responsible Sourcing; and (2) we do not want to leave anyone behind.”
In his address, the WDC President expressed the indutry’s support for suspending the expansion of green zones in the Central African Republic, from where rough diamonds can be legally exported, until such time that it can be verified that the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme can be reliably implemented in currently non-compliant parts of the country.
Addressing the delegation from CAR directly he stated: “It is our fervent hope that your entire country will be considered a ‘green zone’ in the not distant future, and we will do whatever we can as the WDC to support progress towards that. It is an eventuality that your citizens and the communities in which they live deserve. But as I stated, the rules and procedures of the KP must take priority. They ultimately are what will make this happen. If we take shortcuts, we endanger the entire framework, and consequently the future of our product and your country’s wellbeing.”
Mr. Asscher praised the outgoing Chair of the Kimberley Process, the Russian Federation, for the “ingenuity and efficiency” it demonstrated in rising to the challenge of organizing a hybrid Plenary meeting.
He also expressed the WDC’s pride in having the opportunity the opportunity to continue heading the work of the KP’s Working Group of Diamond Experts. In this way, he said, WDC will “continue to deliver our expert knowledge, just as we have done since the beginning of the KP.”
He concluded his address by paying special tribute to two KP stalwarts, for which the 2021 Plenary meeting will be last they attend in an official capacity. The first was Hilde Hardeman, the Head of the European Commission's Service for Foreign Policy Instruments, who herself served as KP Chair in 2018 and then continued to head the EU delegation to the Kimberley Process, working tirelessly all the while to reach consensus on an expanded definition for conflict diamonds. “Your charm, untiring stamina, rock-solid consistency and Belgian flair have time and again driven progress in the KP. It takes an excellent diplomat to keep this family together, and over the years you have done so with grace. It has been an honor and pleasure to work with you and we wish you all the best for yourself and your new career,” Mr. Asscher said.
The second official to whom Mr. Asscher paid tribute was the long-time head of the American delegation, Pamela Fierst Walsh, Senior Advisor on Conflict Minerals at the U.S. Department of State, who will be moving to a private sector position. “This is a great loss to all of us here, but a win for her next position,” the WDC President stated. “Pamela, our best wishes will accompany you and your family in your next career.”
NOVEMBER 8, 2021
ABOVE: WDC President Edward Asscher addressing the Opening Session of the 2021 Kimberley Process Plenary on November 8, 2021.
Speaking to the full assembly of delegates during the Opening Session of the 2021 Kimberley Process (KP) Plenary, World Diamond Council President Edward Asscher has reasserted the need for Kimberley Process members to agree to expand the conflict diamond definition in order to support long-term consumer confidence.
Mr. Asscher noted that the Plenary was taking place at a time when young consumers are increasingly expressing their demands for assurance about the social and environmental credentials of the products they buy, and highlighted that the diamond industry has the ability to deliver on these consumers’ expectations. But Kimberley Process members must act to expand the definition.
The five-day KP Plenary meeting began today as a hybrid event, with in-person meetings taking place in Moscow, joined in videoconference by delegates from around the world. The meeting is being hosted by the Government of the Russian Federation, which currently is the KP Chair.
Edward Asscher, President of the World Diamond Council.
The diamond is a product that has the potential to both speak to the aspirations of this new generation, as a natural resource with the potential of providing sustainable economic and social opportunities to the communities that produce it, or be rejected, as a non-essential luxury item. We have the ability to decide that choice, but we will do so only through actions and not empty words,” Mr. Asscher said.
The WDC President recognized that some positive progress had been made, for example with the newly proposed "Frame 7’" principles, stating “I commend the Chair and Vice-Chair for introducing the Seven Principles of Responsible Sourcing of Natural Diamonds. Frame 7, as we are now calling them, it is long overdue and could be a beacon for the discussions taking place this week.”
However, Mr. Asscher questioned why the Kimberley Process remained unable to deliver progress on the most important issue, asking “But why do we persistently fail to make substantive progress on expanding the definition of conflict diamonds – a move that almost all of us understands is necessary?”
The WDC President reminded the audience of a prediction he made at the KP Intersessional meeting in June, about the risk of the emergence of a two-tier diamond industry. The upper, more established tier of companies, which are able to independently monitor their supply chains, is able to meet consumer expectations. But the lower, less established tier, will see its market share diminishing, often through no fault of its own, he said. The victims of such an outcome would include “the individuals, communities and entire economies that rely on revenues generated by diamonds for their livelihoods and future development,” Mr. Asscher stated.
Mr. Asscher noted the role that the WDC’s upgraded WDC System of Warranties, launched on September 21, could play in helping to address this risk. He stated that the new System “continues to support the trade in KPCS-compliant diamonds throughout the supply chain, and at the same time indicates that they comply with universal human rights and labor rights, and with essential principles of anti-corruption and anti-money laundering.”
Mr. Asscher also expressed the WDC’s dismay over the veto in the UN Security Council of the budget for the Panel of Experts in the Central African Republic (CAR), which he described as the ears and eyes of the UN on the ground, reporting objectively about problems in the country.
As far as the WDC is concerned, right now there is no justification to expand the green zones in CAR, the WDC President said, referring to monitored artisanal diamond mining areas from which KP-compliant exports are permitted. “Furthermore, if the conditions of the new Operational Framework are not met, we should return to the old framework. In other words, we should go back to carrying out inspections before a shipment is approved for export from CAR, rather than following up after the shipment already has taken place,” he said.
To download a copy of the WDC President address to the Opening Session of the 2021 Kimberley Process Plenary, please CLICK HERE.
SEPTEMBER 21, 2021
The revised declaration to be added to invoices and memos by sellers of rough diamonds, polished diamonds and jewelry set with diamonds, in accordance with the upgraded WDC System of Warranties. It confirms adherence to the WDC SoW Guidelines, which support universally accepted principles of human and labor rights, anti-corruption and anti-money laundering (AML). The declaration appears against the background of the poster created in honor of United Nations 2021 International Day of Peace.
The World Diamond Council (WDC) has marked the 40th anniversary of the establishment by the United Nations of the International Day of Peace with the official public launch of its upgraded System of Warranties (SoW).
“For the International Day of Peace 2021, the United Nations set the theme for ‘recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world,’ and called on us all to mark the occasion with acts of compassion, kindness, and hope,” said WDC President Edward Asscher. “We thus felt it an appropriate occasion to launch the upgraded System of Warranties. It reflects our vision for a diamond industry that is not only free of conflict, but through its actions also promotes safe and secure working environments, equal opportunity and proper governance.”
Like the original SoW introduced 18 years ago, the upgraded SoW requires that all sellers of rough diamonds, polished diamonds and jewelry containing diamonds include a declaration on B2B invoices and other transaction documents, such as consignment memos, stating that the goods being sold comply with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), and thus meet the Kimberley Process’ standard of being conflict free.
What’s different to the original is that the revised warranty statement additionally includes a commitment that the sellers adhere to the updated WDC SoW Guidelines, which expressly support universally accepted principles of human and labor rights, anti-corruption and anti-money laundering (AML).
Specifically, the WDC SoW Guidelines reference the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the UN Convention Against Corruption, and national AML guidelines that comply with the FATF’s 40 Recommendations on Money Laundering for Dealers in Precious Metals and Stones.
A critical new element of the upgraded SoW is that all users will be required to register on a dedicated website, and once a year successfully complete an online self-assessment, to gauge their compliance with the WDC SoW Guidelines.
The self-assessment questionnaire is the primary component among a suite of due diligence tools that is provided on the dedicated WDC System of Warranties website, which was launched today at: https://www.wdcsow.org.
The self-assessment questionnaire is individualized according to the size of the company or organization being tested, by the specific range of business activities in which it is involved, and whether it is already compliant with other recognized due diligence systems, like the Responsible Jewellery Council’s Code of Practices or De Beers’ Best Practice Principles Assurance Program.
Supporting Implementation of the Upgraded SoW
To assist members of the industry to implement the upgraded SoW, the WDC is undertaking an extensive international educational program, in coordination with diamond bourses and other national and international trade associations. Information about the program will be made available in the near future.
To enable a smooth transition from the original to the upgraded SoW, there will be a transitional period, during which companies still can decide to accept the older warranties from their clients, of three years in the case of rough purchases and five years in the case of all other purchases.
WORLD DIAMOND AND JEWELRY INDUSTRY LEADERS
ENDORSE WDC'S UPGRADED SYSTEM OF WARRANTIES
JUNE 25, 2021
“In the not-too-distant future, there will be a difference between rough diamonds that can be guaranteed to have fulfilled the consumers’ demands and expectations, and other diamonds,” said Edward Asscher, President of the World Diamond Council (WDC), speaking today during the closing session of the 2021 Intersessional Meeting of the Kimberley Process (KP). “Responsibly sourced diamonds will be more in demand. They will obtain better prices in the marketplace, and buyers at jewelry stores will demand proof that they are indeed responsibly sourced before purchasing them as polished.”
In a powerful address, the WDC President questioned the readiness of certain KP Participants to meet the expectations of today’s jewelry consumers, who increasingly demand that diamonds can be verifiably shown to have been responsibly sourced, and to have been handled in accordance with essential principles of human rights, environmental protection and social justice.
WDC President Edward Asscher during the Closing Session of the Kimberley Process’s virtual 2021 Intersessional Meeting, on June 25, 2021.
“It might well be that the considerations of consumers are far beyond the field of perception of producing countries, polishing centers and governments. But what happens if producers do not listen to the market? They become obsolete,” Edward Asscher said.
“The Kimberley Process has the ability to create a level playing field,” The WDC President stated. “If it meets these consumer expectations, then all natural diamonds from all participating countries will be represented. But there is clearly resistance, and I believe it is because some of us see the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme as an enabler of trade, whilst others see it as a restrictor of trade.”
In his address, the WDC President explained the consequences of a market with two different value chains. “Some producing countries will face less demand for their goods. Can you imagine having a wonderful, beautiful diamond, but it is difficult to sell because prospective buyers will not have been assured that the stone has done good on its way from the mine to the market?” he asked.
“Small and medium-sized enterprises will experience difficulties selling natural diamonds, because they do not belong to the elite group of polishers that can guarantee that the diamonds they source and polish are responsibly sourced. That will create an unlevel playing field in the polishing centers, and threaten the livelihoods of thousands who own, are employed or service SMEs,” Edward Asscher said.
The WDC President stressed that there remains limited time to change course. “I trust that this truth will sink in before the [Kimberley Process] Plenary later this year,” he said. “There are only two choices: (1) we genuinely work together to reform the KP, addressing consumer expectations, or (2) we leave many of our friends here at the KP behind in a much smaller and concentrated diamond industry, where there are two value chains – one with consumer demand and one without.”
To download the full version of the WDC President address to the Closing Session of the KP Intersessional Meeting on June 25, 2021, PLEASE CLICK HERE.
JUNE 21, 2021
ABOVE: WDC President Edward Asscher addressing the Opening Session of the Kimberley Process’s virtual 2021 Intersessional Meeting, on June 21, 2021.
“Consumers today want to know about a diamond’s provenance. They want to be assured that the diamonds they are considering buying have made a positive impact on the world,” said Edward Asscher, President of the World Diamond Council (WDC), speaking today during the opening of the 2021 Intersessional Meeting of the Kimberley Process (KP), which is being conducted virtually for the first time in the organization’s 21-year history.
“The prevailing subjects that are today on the agenda of the international community, as well as that of the diamond industry, are: human rights, environmental protection and social justice. They are certainly being discussed and advanced outside of the Kimberley Process. And we must not be left behind,” the WDC President stated.
The Kimberley Process Intersessional Meeting, which is being held this week, is one of two regularly scheduled meetings conducted by the KP in any calendar year, with the other being the KP Plenary. It is being chaired by the Government of the Russian Federation, which holds the post of KP Chair this year. The WDC, which together with civil society has Observer status in the KP, represents the industry in the tripartite forum charged with eliminating the trade in conflict diamonds.
Noting that consumer desire is the only value driver for diamonds, Edward Asscher stressed that not meeting consumer expectations presents a very real risk for the industry, as well for countries who rely on diamonds for their economic wellbeing and stability. “If the KP is left behind, it runs the risk of becoming irrelevant, and so may the category of natural diamonds. Let us not forget that consumers have alternatives. Meeting their trust and ensuring their confidence needs must be at the top of our agenda,” he stated.
In his address, Edward Asscher referred to the imminent introduction of the WDC’s new System of Warranties, which he said will “help all participants in our business sector with best practices, compliance and due diligence when purchasing diamonds. We are sending a strong signal that we are ready to reform, and that we do not want to be left behind.”
The WDC President concluded his address by reiterating the spirit of the KP and of the community that the KP unites, and of its members’ aim to protect the integrity of natural diamonds.
“This must be done within the KP – in this very forum – and not elsewhere,” he said. “We must be able to stand behind our promises and our mandate to protect the rights of those who are connected to the diamond industry, whether they reside in producing countries, polishing countries or in the jewelry markets. We are all in this together, whether we are from government, industry or civil society. It doesn’t matter.”
“We are all here to protect the integrity of the whole diamond value chain in every aspect: human rights, social rights and environmental protection. We can only achieve results if we work together,” the WDC President stated.
To download the full version of the WDC President address to the Opening Session of the KP Intersessional Meeting on June 21, 2021, PLEASE CLICK HERE.
MARCH 16, 2021
The World Diamond Council (WDC) and Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) have entered into a cross-membership partnership and signed mutual codes of conduct. The two leading diamond and jewelry industry organizations are dedicated to the adoption of responsible business practices across the supply chain, and this partnership will help increase knowledge-sharing, pilot new initiatives, and increase the positive impact they both make on the lives and livelihoods of individuals and communities associated with jewelry, watches and the precious materials from which they are made.
The increased cooperation between the organizations will see an RJC official joining the WDC Kimberley Process Task Force to take part in critical discussions about the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). This includes the expansion of the definition of conflict diamonds and principles for responsible diamond sourcing, and also the worldwide adoption of WDC’s revised System of Warranties (SoW). For its part, a WDC official will join the RJC SDG Task Force, which is an action platform for the jewelry and watch industry committed to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Both appointments will take place with immediate effect.
Over the course of the partnership, both WDC and RJC will report to their members on progress with the SoW and SDGs, and support members of the industry in applying the relevant programs and principles into their own business systems with the help of case studies, hands-on workshops and a continued dialogue with policy makers and investors.
Edward Asscher, President of the World Diamond Council.
Elodie Daguzan, Executive Director of the World Diamond Council.
David Bouffard, Chair of the Responsible Jewellery Council.
Iris Van der Veken, Executive Director of the Responsible Jewellery Council.
“Cooperation at this level is critical to raising the level of knowledge about responsible sourcing, driving action and having a positive impact on all businesses, small and large, at every level of the diamond supply chain,” said Elodie Daguzan, WDC’s Executive Director. “Through this partnership we can do more to increase understanding of the KPCS and present a united industry front dedicated to broadening its scope through the expansion of the definition of conflict diamonds. Cooperation will also fast-track the adoption of WDC’s revised System of Warranties, creating a standard industry baseline for KPCS-compliance and commitment to fundamental human and labor rights, and anti-money laundering and anti-corruption principles. I am excited to be working closer with the team at RJC to unite the power of all our members and accelerate positive change in our industry.”
“Uniting the positive forces of RJC and WDC is a major milestone in our industry, and I am inspired by what we can achieve together, partnering to promote the fulfilment of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the industry,” said Iris Van der Veken, RJC Executive Director. “Being actively involved in the WDC Kimberley Process Task Force is an excellent opportunity to bring about more rapid change in our industry, globally. We need to stay focused and increase our efforts during the Decade of Action to achieve a jewelry supply chain that is responsible and conscious of its impact on people and the planet. We have a great opportunity to build back better.”
Commenting on the agreement, Edward Asscher, WDC President, said: “Partnering with RJC creates exciting opportunities for our industry. Since 2000, WDC’s entire purpose has been to preserve the integrity of the natural diamond, and that of the industry that mines, manufactures and sells it. This agreement not only means increased understanding of the role played by the Kimberley Process and the critical governance that it provides, but it also strengthens our industry’s reputation, as a business sector dedicated to improving the lives of all our members, stakeholders, communities and countries.”
Commenting David Bouffard, RJC Chair, said: “We welcome this partnership with WDC. For over 15 years, RJC has taken a leading role on sustainable development and helping increase the integrity of the global jewelry supply chain. We believe in shared values and we are encouraged by the opportunity to share our knowledge and expertise in standard-setting with WDC members.”