OCTOBER 8, 2019
ABOVE: The WDC’s Board of Directors meeting at the start of the 2019 Annual General Meeting in Antwerp, Belgium, on October 2, 2019.
Members of the World Diamond Council (WDC) assembled in Antwerp, Belgium, on October 2 and 3, 2019, for the organization’s Annual General Meeting (AGM). The proceedings were dominated by discussions about the pending conclusion of the Kimberley Process’ review and reform process, and the related call by WDC and others that it includes a strengthening of the scope of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS).
The AGM was hosted in Belgium by the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), which also organized an industry dinner at the Antwerp Diamond Bourse on October 3 to celebrate the WDC.
Speaking to the gathering, WDC President Stephane Fischler, expressed the organization’s determination that, when the KP Plenary meets in New Delhi, India, November 18-22, progress be made in strengthening the definition of “conflict diamonds,” so that it better addresses the assurance that the trade in rough diamonds cannot be used to fund systemic violence being seen in certain diamond-mining areas today.
WDC President Stephane Fischler (center) addressing the Board of Directors in Antwerp on October 2. He is flanked (from left) by Ronnie VanderLinden, WDC Treasurer; Edward Asscher, WDC Vice President; Marie-Chantal Kaninda, outgoing WDC Executive Director; and Udi Sheintal, WDC Secretary.
Several amendments to the conflict diamonds definition are currently being considered by the KP, including a proposal tabled by Canada, which had been formulated together with WDC and the Civil Society Coalition, and others by Botswana and Russia.
“We are still far from a final agreement, but I believe that there is now a general awareness that a new and strengthened scope will indeed be of benefit to the KP and all its stakeholders,” Mr. Fischler said in his report to the AGM. “These are extremely complex negotiations, where the North-South divide is apparent, and where different historical contexts must be acknowledged, for they shape perceptions and understandings.”
The WDC President stressed that, with the strengthened scope, it is critical the role of the KPCS remains relevant. The KPCS should not be regarded as a sanctions mechanism, he said, but rather as a system that prevents instances of violence and conflict, and in so doing facilitates capacity building in the mining areas, as well as maintains and grows consumer confidence in diamonds.
A key element in the WDC’s program to support the integrity of the diamond value chain is its updated System of Warranties (SOW), whose scope extends beyond that of the KPCS, covering both the rough and polished diamond trade, and directly referencing international conventions on human and labor rights, anti-corruption and anti-money laundering (AML). Delegates to the AGM discussed a toolkit that currently is being developed to assist members of the industry in their implementation.
“We are all aware of the pressures upon us to be more transparent, particularly concerning the provenance of our products and the due diligence mechanisms being applied to ensure their integrity,” Mr. Fischler said in his report. “The new WDC System of Warranties will certainly contribute, and we are looking forward to providing the industry the tools necessary for using the mechanism throughout the whole supply chain.”
Looking at other elements of the KP’s review and reform program, Mr. Fischler said that “there have definitely been successes chalked up.” These include WDC’s proposal to establish a permanent secretariat to better support the work of KP. It was formally accepted, and the new body is currently being planned by a sub-committee headed by Peter Karakchiev, a WDC board member. It will replace the Administrative Support Mechanism that today is being run by the AWDC with the support of other WDC members. WDC has made a commitment to co-finance the Permanent Secretariat.
Peter Karakchiev (left) and Mark van Bockstael, the current and former chairs of the KP’s Working Group of Diamond Experts (WDGE).
Looking at other elements of the KP’s review and reform program, Mr. Fischler said that “there have definitely been successes chalked up.” These include WDC’s proposal to establish a permanent secretariat to better support the work of KP. It was formally accepted, and the new body is currently being planned by a sub-committee headed by Peter Karakchiev, a WDC board member. It will replace the Administrative Support Mechanism that today is being run by the AWDC with the support of other WDC members. WDC has made a commitment to co-finance the Permanent Secretariat.
Mr. Fischler also reported that the WDC has contributed to the discussion about the creation of a Multi-Donor Fund that will be established to finance the participation in the KP forum of countries with limited capacity, as well as members of the Civil Society Coalition, and supports an improved Peer-Review Mechanism.
The AGM discussed the ongoing situation in the Central African Republic (CAR), which is the only country today from which the KP has ruled that conflict diamonds exist. In 2015, after an absence, the CAR was readmitted into the KPCS within a special operational framework that was created to ensure the strict traceability of goods, which only can be sourced from especially approved “green” mining zones. As part of the process, the KP set up a Monitoring Team that is currently chaired by the United States, and includes representatives from relevant working groups, civil society and the WDC.
During the AGM, notification was received from the CAR government that it was planning an overhaul of its alluvial diamond mining sector, which will include the introduction of a regime based on OECD due diligence principles.
Marie-Chantal Kaninda, outgoing WDC Executive Director, addressing the 2019 AGM in Antwerp on October 3, 2019.
Responding to the announcement, Mr. Fischler said that the WDC would encourage such a program, but he stressed that all members and companies from the industry must still remain on the alert and conduct their own due diligence to ensure that any CAR-sourced rough diamonds they purchase are KP-compliant. He also called on the countries neighboring the CAR and those that are home to trading centers to practice enhanced vigilance, to prevent conflict diamonds from accessing their territories.
Mr. Fischler noted the contribution to two WDC officers, Peter Karakchiev and Mark van Bockstael, the current of former chairs of the KP’s Working Group of Diamond Experts, who successfully petitioned the World Customs Organization to introduce a new international six-digit code into its HS system, which relating specifically to “synthetic diamond, unworked or simply sawn or roughly shaped.” Until now, rough man-made diamonds have been grouped together with all other synthetic stones.
2019 AGM participants in a group photo during the concluding industry dinner on October 3, 2019.
During his speech to the industry dinner that closed out 2019 AGM, Mr. Fischler paid special tribute to Marie-Chantal Kaninda, WDC’s outgoing Executive Director. “[T]hrough her personality, history and understanding, she has instilled within us a sensibility and broader perception of our industry that will remain long after her departure. We wish her the very best of luck,” he said.
Concluding his address to the guests at the gala dinner, Mr. Fischler pointed out that 95 percent of rough diamonds in terms of value are mined by a handful of larger, industrialized companies, which over the years have delivered transformative change in the countries where they operate. The remaining 5 percent are produced by artisanal miners. These are considered to be at higher risk, and thus command most of the attention of the KP and the WDC.
“We are an industry that understands that when we are talking about 5 percent of total value, we are not simply referring to dollars and cents,” Mr. Fischler said. “We are referring to diamonds whose derived revenue might potentially make a massive impact on the lives of people in the countries where they are sourced.”
“This is the industry of which I have been a part of for more than 40 years, and a community of women and men of whom I am incredibly proud,” he said.
OCTOBER 1, 2019
In light of recent media reports about the trade in rough diamonds associated with the ongoing civil conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR), the World Diamond Council (WDC) has reiterated its call to members of the industry to practice the utmost caution when considering the purchase of goods that are known to have originated or are suspected to have originated in the CAR.
The WDC emphasizes that the only rough diamonds sourced in the CAR that currently can be purchased legitimately are goods from parcels carrying CAR Kimberley Process (KP) certificates. This means that they have been mined in “green” compliant zones, which are areas under secure CAR-government control, and where the KP also has determined that diamond production meets Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPSC) minimum requirements. For this to occur, there can be no evidence of armed rebel group activity in the area.
Furthermore, all KP-certified rough diamonds from the CAR need to have been approved for export by the Kimberley Process’ specially designated CAR Monitoring Team chaired by the United States and including representatives of a number of KP’s Working Groups, as well as representatives of the WDC and civil society.
Speaking last week in Dubai, WDC President Stephane Fischler highlighted the role played by the CAR Monitoring Team, noting that, with due support from the United Nations, it acts as one of a few stabilizing factors in a country that has long suffered the devastation of civil conflict. These continuing efforts are crucial to bringing peace and stability to the region, he said. They mirror the part played by the KP in previously war-torn parts of Africa, where the KPCS was successful in shutting down sources of revenue for rebel forces, allowing the affected countries’ diamond deposits to better meet their potential as generators of economic and social development.
Mr. Fischler called on other KP-member countries to practice enhanced vigilance concerning the import of goods from the CAR. He also urged all members of the trade to strengthen the integrity of the diamond supply chain by proactively implementing the guidelines contained in WDC’s new System of Warranties. These also underscore the need to assess risks in areas beyond the KPCS, including human and labor rights, AML and anti-corruption.
SEPTEMBER 25, 2019
Members of the World Diamond Council (WDC) will be traveling to Antwerp, Belgium, for the organization’s Annual General Meeting, scheduled to take place October 2 and 3, 2019. The yearly gathering of the WDC membership will provide the opportunity to review the position of the diamond and jewelry industry regarding the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, less than two months before the KP ends its current reform and review cycle.
The 2019 WDC Annual General Meeting is being organized by the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), which during the evening of October 3 will also host a gala dinner for participants, members of the local diamond industry, representatives of government and the European Union, and members of the diplomatic corps.
The official venue of the AGM on October 3 will be the DIVA Museum in Antwerp’s historic old city, which is the world’s largest such facility dedicated to diamonds and jewelry crafts. The WDC’s Board of Directors will meet on October 2 at the AWDC headquarters on Hoveniersstraat in the city’s Diamond District, and the gala dinner will take place the following evening at the nearby Antwerp Diamond Bourse.
“The WDC has played an active role in the KP’s review and reform process, which is now in a critical phase,” said Stephane Fischler, the organization’s president. “The AGM will allow our officers to provide a status report to the members, and for us to discuss together how we move forward. It also will provide an opportunity to look at the tools that are being developed to implement the expanded WDC System of Warranties, which was approved last year.”
More information about the 2019 WDC’s Annual General Meeting, including registration, is available on a dedicated website at: https://www.worlddiamondcouncil.org/wdc-agm-2019/.
JULY 9, 2019
ABOVE:The cover page of the May 2019 edition of Forbes Afrique, and a mosaic of 36 of the individuals that it named as Africa’s 100 most influential women. WDC Executive Director Marie-Chantal Kaninda appears on the far right of the third row.
The May edition of Forbes Afrique, the French-language version of the influential economic periodical that focuses specifically on African affairs, has listed Marie-Chantal Kaninda, Executive Director of the World Diamond Council (WDC), as one the continent’s 100 most influential women. The influential French-language magazine ranks Marie-Chantal Kaninda in 14th place among African women involved in public service.
“With this fifth edition of Africa's 100 Most Influential Women ranking, the presence of African women at the highest levels in all sectors is no longer a shadow of a doubt,” wrote Nadia Mensah-Acogny, the Forbes Afrique journalist who has been compiling the list since 2013. “But despite this, gender equality still leaves something to be desired and the finding is bitter. African women are still under-represented in the private sector. Like everywhere in the world, diversity remains a challenge for women in Africa. However, there is no need to despair, because beautiful energies are set up to get things done faster.”
Mentioning Ms. Kaninda’s work to further the interests of individuals and communities involved in Africa’s mining sector, Forbes Afrique also cited other aspects of her career. These included the establishment of the MCKM Foundation, which focuses on education for girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); serving as a vice president of the DRC’s National Committee for Women’s Soccer; chairperson of the British Congo Business Group (BCBG); and chairperson of an Anti-Corruption Working Group for the private sector in the DRC.
Marie-Chantal Kaninda, WDC Executive Director.
A native of the DRC, Ms. Kaninda has served as WDC Executive Director since March 1, 2017. Immediately prior to joining the WDC, she was the Chief Advisor for External Affairs, Africa, at Rio Tinto Corporation, a position she held from 2012. Before joining Rio Tinto, she served in administrative, communications and external affairs roles with other international mining companies, including Ashanti Goldfields, AngloGold Ashanti and De Beers. She has also consulted on community development projects in Africa, including successfully relocating a community in Angola, and implemented several stakeholder engagement strategic plans. She furthermore has served as a board member of the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI).
“We are exceedingly proud of Marie-Chantal’s being recognized by Forbes Afrique, and privileged to have a person of her talent, experience and commitment at the head of WDC’s management team,” said Stephane Fischler, WDC President. “Throughout her long career, she has worked to improve the lives of Africa’s disadvantaged people, be they women, artisanal miners or individuals impacted by ongoing violence. Her belief that a country’s natural resources can fuel the development of all its people essentially embodies what we strive for in the WDC.”
“It is of course a great honor to have been selected by Forbes Afrique, and even more of a privilege to be mentioned alongside so many awe-inspiring people, who are changing Africa and showing by personal example that women deserve an equal place in politics, public affairs, business, culture, sports and the media,” said Ms. Kaninda. “I am also proud to be part of an organization like WDC, which not only advocates for an ethical diamond industry, but also shows that equal opportunity begins at home.”
JUNE 25, 2019
ABOVE: WDC President Stephane Fischler addressing the Closing Session of the KP Intersessional Meeting in Mumbai, India, on June 21, 2019.
As the 2019 Intersessional Meeting of the Kimberley Process (KP) wrapped up on June 21 in the Indian city of Mumbai, WDC President Stephane Fischler expressed confidence that progress has been made in the effort to reach consensus on the review and reform of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). He called on participants to agree on the measures necessary for strengthening the KPCS’s impact, both in improving the lives and prospects of communities in the mining areas, and also in meeting the expectations of consumers in the jewelry markets.
“What is essential is that, together, we send a clear signal to the outside world, including consumers, that the Kimberley Process remains a vitally relevant institution, which is able to evolve and adapt according to changing conditions. This must be the case at the upstream end of the chain of value, as it is at the downstream end,” he stated.
WDC President Executive Director Marie-Chantal Kaninda intervening during a session of 2019 KP Intersessional Meeting in Mumbai, India.
At the same time, said the WDC President, recognition of the need to reform should never detract from the very significant achievements the KP has achieved to date. Indeed, he stated, the WDC itself has been remiss in highlighting that developmental programs for artisanal miners that its members are currently involved in launching in places like Sierra Leone, Guinea, DRC and others would have been impossible were it not for the role of the KPSC in returning peace to these areas.
The WDC remains committed to developing such programs, he said, but they are undermined when acts of violence bring the integrity of the diamond into question. “We will continue to stand on the front lines, highlighting our concerns and advancing and promoting solutions, he said. “To do that, we require the understanding, cooperation and support of all players in the chain of value. If we see consumers turning away, our market share shrinks, revenues fall, and all of us will feel the pain.”
While, as the diamond and jewelry industry’s representative in the tripartite KP the WDC has non-voting observer status, its 11-person team at the KP Intersessional, led by Mr. Fischler and WDC Executive Director Marie-Chantal Kaninda, played key roles in various sessions of the plenary and working groups, and in particular Peter Karakchiev, a WDC Board member from Alrosa, who chairs the Working Group of Diamond Experts (WGDE) and the subcommittee on the creation of a permanent KP Secretariat.
The Special Forum about terminology in the diamond sector, which was held on June 19, 2019, at the KP Intersessional in Mumbai, India. It was moderated by Peter Karakchiev, a member of the WDC team.
Mr. Karakchiev also organized and moderated a Special Forum at the meeting in Mumbai on June 19, which delved into the promotion of the Diamond Terminology Guidelines that were adopted as KP Best Practices last year. Most speakers in that forum were representatives of WDC member bodies. They included Karla Basselier, of the Antwerp World Diamond Center (AWDC); Sanjay Shah, of India’s Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC); David Bouffard of Signet Jewelers; and Elodie Daguzan of Rubel & Ménasché.
The WDC members spoke about efforts being taken by the industry to bridge the expectations of stakeholders in the diamond-producing countries and the growing demand by Millennial and Generation Z jewelry buyers that the products they buy have ethical and social value. “We cannot afford to have our competitors in the marketplace using the perceived shortcomings of the Kimberley Process to sell their own products,” said Mr. Bouffard during the Special Forum on diamond terminology.
A second Special Forum on June 19 looked at grass-roots programs being operated in diamond industry communities. It featured Feriel Zerouki, of WDC member De Beers Group, who presented the GemFair initiative in Sierra Leone, which is working to formalize and support artisanal miners in the diamond value chain; and Sabyasachi Ray of GJEPC, who outlined the Swasthya Ratna Policy, a heavily-subsidized health care plan created by his organization for workers in the Indian jewelry sector and their families, which eventually could provide comprehensive coverage to more than 5 million people.
To download a full copy of the WDC President’s speech to the Closing Session of the 2019 KP Intersessional Meeting, PLEASE CLICK HERE.
Representatives of WDC members speaking during the special forums at the KP Intersessional Meeting on June 19, 2019
Sanjay Shah, GJEPC
Karla Basselier, AWDC
David Bouffard, Signet Jewelry
Elodie Daguzan, Rubel & Ménasché
Feriel Zerouki, De Beers Group
Sabyasachi Ray, GJEPC
JUNE 17, 2019
ABOVE: WDC President Stephane Fischler addressing the Opening Session of the 2019 Kimberley Process Intersessional Meeting in Mumbai, India, on June 17.
WDC President Stephane Fischler has called on Kimberley Process-member governments to do what is necessary to safeguard the interests of their mining communities, and in so doing optimize the developmental potential of their natural resources. He was speaking during the Opening Session of the 2019 Intersessional Meeting of the Kimberley Process (KP), which opened today in the Indian city of Mumbai.
“We must agree that the Kimberley Process should ensure that each government takes responsibility to ensure a chain of provenance, earning the trust of consumers wherever they are, and in so doing produce the revenues that must filter back to the grass roots of the mining communities,” Mr. Fischler stated.
Historically, he noted, one of the most critical factors determining whether a country’s economy is able to take advantage of the potential offered by its rough diamond deposits is the relative absence of ongoing conflict and violence.
“There is a dramatic disparity between the development level of those countries and the others that suffered the tragedy of civil war, Mr. Fischler stated. “Only today are some slowly realizing the opportunities that their commodities could offer, in helping maintain the peace and allowing for nation building.”
The Intersessional Meeting is one of two gatherings of all KP participants that will take place in India in 2019, which is the final year of a three-year reform and review process underway in the organization. “The Kimberley Process has today a one-time opportunity to make a difference in those countries where the diamond industry has not yet met its developmental potential,” he said.
Mr. Fischler delineated the elements that distinguish review from reform. Reform, he said, involves enhancing internal processes, so that the KP can “make better use of the instruments we ourselves have created, or will create in the future, for the benefit of the members, to generate a more efficient and effective organization.” These, he said, include a simplified and more consistent core document, a strengthened peer-review mechanism, the creation of a permanent secretariat, and the establishment of a multi-donor fund to ensure that all participants are capable of being fully active within the KP.
Reform is a more fundamental process, the WDC President stressed, noting that in its case industry believes the definition of what constitutes “conflict diamonds” should be expanded. “We strongly believe that, by helping eliminate the trade in diamonds directly associated with instances of systemic violence, we can bring about a more responsible and ethical mining sector, thus enabling a fairer distribution of the benefits delivered to millions of people,” he stated
While the diamond industry and civil society will do all that they can to support constructive change as observers in the KP, ultimately it will be up to governments to reach consensus on the review and reform that is required, Mr. Fischler said.
“We need you, the country representatives, to have the courage to look into the eyes of your own people – the men, women and children active and living in the diamond-mining areas. They ask that they be allowed to live, rather than simply survive. They request safety and security for themselves and their families, and to be dignified with a proper wage, so that they may build a better future for themselves and their children, and contribute proudly as citizens,” he said.
“We are relying on each of you, during this final year of the review and reform process, to show the consumers of diamonds that the Kimberley Process can unite around a program that will ensure better care and protection of your brothers and sisters,” Mr. Fischler said.
Prior to the opening session, the WDC hosted an Observers’ Forum with the other official observers in the KP, including the Civil Society Coalition (CSC), the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) and the African Diamond Producers Association (ADPA).
To download a full copy of the WDC President’s speech to 2019 KP Intersessional Meeting, PLEASE CLICK HERE.
Representatives of the World Diamond Council (WDC), the Civil Society Coalition (CSC), the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) and the African Diamond Producers Association (ADPA) meeting during the KP Observer’s Forum in Mumbai, India, on June 17, 2019.
MAY 31, 2019
The World Diamond Council (WDC) has announced the launch of a newly designed website, upgrading the level of support provided both to its own members and the diamond and jewelry industries in general. It also reports on the organization’s ongoing work within the Kimberley Process (KP), and its mission to protect the integrity of the diamond value chain. The new website is at the WDC’s longtime Internet address, www.worlddiamondcouncil.org.
More reactive and news-oriented, the new website opens a window into the functioning and approach of the WDC, which for 19 years has represented the diamond and jewelry industries in the tripartite KP forum, alongside government and civil society, in the prevention and eradication of the trade in conflict diamonds.
A key function of the new website is to support ongoing programs and projects being carried out by the WDC, including its Annual Meetings and participation in key KP events and programs. A newly added section focuses on the revised WDC System of Warranties, which was approved toward the end of 2018 and shortly will be augmented by online self-assessment tools.
The website also includes an extensive Resource Library, containing documents, reports and presentations relating to the WDC’s own work, as well as that of the KP and other international bodies in the campaign against conflict diamonds.
A section of the new website is designed to assist industry members interested in joining the WDC complete the membership application process, supplying information about conditions of membership, and providing downloadable forms, declarations and other instructions.
“The WDC operates in a dynamic environment, and we wanted the new website to properly reflect this and the essential work that is being done on behalf of the industry and its stakeholders, often without them even realizing it,” said David Bouffard, Chair of the WDC Communications Committee, which has overseen the project. “Functionality was also a key goal, particularly as we now prepare to expand the self-assessment aspect of the WDC System of Warranties.”
APRIL 24, 2019
ABOVE: The deep-dive session focusing on recent standard-making developments in upstream and downstream diamond supply chains, at which the WDC presented its revised System of Warranties, in session on April 24, 2019.
Senior officials of the World Diamond Council (WDC) have provided an overview of the organization’s revised System of Warranties (SoW), during two sessions on April 24 at the 13th Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris. During the briefings, WDC President Stephane Fischler described the revised SoW as an “essential building block” for participants in the diamond supply chain towards implementing the OECD’s due diligence guidance for minerals from high-risk areas.
The first of the sessions was an early-morning side event organized together with the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), at which the WDC presented its revised SoW and RJC explained its new Code of Practices. The second was a deep-dive session that was part of the OECD forum’s main agenda. Titled “Putting Commitments into Action,” it focused on recent standard-making developments in upstream and downstream diamond supply chains.
The deep-dive session was moderated by Terah de Jong, a technical advisor at the USAID Artisanal Mining and Property Rights Project.
The WDC’s revised SoW was approved by the organization’s Board of Directors in October 2018. Like the earlier version of the SoW, it requires all participants in the diamond and jewelry value chain, from mining companies to jewelry retailers, to issue warranty statements on their B2B invoices and memos, testifying that the diamonds being sold originated from sources in compliance with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). But the statement now also verifies that the participants adhere to the revised SoW, which requires that they conduct a self-assessment to ascertain whether they comply with universally accepted principles on human and labor rights, anti-money laundering (AML) and anti-corruption.
WDC President Stephane Fischler addressing the deep-dive session at the OECD Responsible Mineral Supply Chain forum on April 24, 2019.
WDC Board Member Peter Karakchiev, who chaired the side event at the OECD forum on April 24, 2019.
The revised SoW Guidelines specifically 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 also national AML guidelines that comply with the FAFT 40 Recommendations on Money Laundering for Dealers in Precious Metals and Stones.
“The revised SoW has to be seen within the context of a range of responsible supply chain opportunities being offered to a very diverse industry,” said Mr. Fischler. “The ultimate objective for all of us is the same – ensuring consumer confidence in the products we sell. The different systems need to be complementary, being building blocks on the road to full compliance.”
“The revised SoW is designed to support the KPCS, covering not only the trade in rough diamonds, but polished diamonds as well, and also trading between every participant in the diamond and jewelry value chain, and not only trade between participants in different countries,” explained Peter Karakchiev, the WDC Board member who chaired the side event on April 24. “We are hoping that the KPCS will be expanded to include provisions related to human rights, labor rights, anti-corruption and AML, but we are not waiting for it to happen, and have already incorporated those elements in our own system.”
Marie-Chantal Kaninda, WDC Executive Director, during the side event at the OECD forum on April 24, 2019
WDC Board Member Feriel Zerouki, speaking during the side event at the OECD forum on April 24, 2019.
Mr. Fischler and Mr. Karakchiev both explained that diamond companies are not permitted to pick and choose what elements to implement. “Members of the trade who implement the SoW are required to fulfill all of its elements depending on their size and sector, as they are outlined in the Guidelines,” Mr. Karakchiev said. “The self-assessment toolkit that is being developed will help them do that.”
It should be noted that implementation of the SoW is already required by a range of industry bodies, including RJC, the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB), De Beers’ Best Practice Principles and CIBJO’s new Responsible Sourcing Blue Book.
To assist in the implementation of the new SoW, WDC is a creating a toolkit based on self-assessment questionnaires, which will assist members of the industry in properly evaluating how they are complying with the process. It will take into consideration the stage or stages of the diamond and jewelry value chain in which the member is involved, the size of the member’s business, and whether the member is already compliant with other due diligence systems, like that of the Responsible Jewellery Council.
APRIL 5, 2019
ABOVE: Faustin Archange Touadera (center), President of the Central African Republic, flanked by Marie-Chantal Kaninda (left), Executive Director of the World Diamond Council, and Stephane Fischler (right), WDC President, during the 6th Forum of the Africa-Belgium Business Week in Genval, Belgium.
Expanding the scope of the Kimberley Process to include issues related to human rights and labor relations, as is being advocated by the World Diamond Council (WDC), will help create conditions in which Sub-Saharan Africa’s artisanal diamond miners can meet their economic potential, and so support the development of their countries’ economies, Marie-Chantal Kaninda, Executive Director of WDC, has told the 6th Forum of the Africa-Belgium Business Week, meeting yesterday in the Belgian town of Genval.
Ms. Kaninda was delivering the opening address in her capacity as Honorary President of the forum, which is organized by Africa Rise, a Belgian organization that promotes Africa’s economic and social emergence through contacts between its entrepreneurs and their counterparts from other parts the world. The guests of honor at the forum were Faustin Archange Touadera, President of the Central African Republic (CAR), and Charles Michel, the Belgian Prime Minister.
Referencing the peace agreement signed in February by the CAR government and 14 rebel groups, aimed at ending the country’s seven year-long civil war, Ms. Kaninda expressed the WDC’s optimism that the end of the conflict will precipitate better prospects for the African nation. “We believe that through the implementation of the peace process, the CAR will be able to resume the unrestricted export of rough diamonds, supported by the Kimberley Process Certification System, and, paraphrasing the President, help turn the CAR resolutely towards its development,” she said.
Although the CAR remains under Kimberley Process suspension, forbidding diamond exports from areas falling outside of the so-called green zones in the western part of the country, from which diamond exports are approved monthly by a monitoring team, its government has been working closely with the Kimberley Process to enable the sale of artisanally-mined alluvial stones. The WDC strongly advocates that the CAR and other countries where artisanal diamond mining is prominent enjoy similar benefits from their production as do other African countries that have seen their economies and nations transformed by the proceeds from diamond sales.
WDC Executive Director Marie-Chantal Kaninda addressing the 6th Forum of the Africa-Belgium Business Week in Genval, Belgium.
Improving the living and working conditions of workers in the diamond mining industry, as well that of workers in other key sectors, like agriculture and forestry, will have a positive impact on the communities that they support, Ms. Kaninda said, as well as other sectors of the economy and the country in general. “These are the developments that we would like the Kimberley Process to support, through the expansion of its scope,” she noted.
“Someone wrote, ‘When Africa awakens, the world will flourish,’” the WDC Executive Director stated. “Indeed, Africa needs to awaken, especially Sub-Saharan Africa. When we talk about this great and beautiful continent, we still talk too often about violence, lack of democracy, poverty and corruption. These are evils and words that we would like to feel or hear no longer.”
“When we talk about Africa we still refer too often to developmental aid. Yet we all know that real development comes through education, work and direct investment. It is time for Sub-Saharan Africa to rise up and develop all its human, mining, agricultural and energy potential, to escape from its state of under-development and enter a new era,” she said.
- To download a full copy of the WDC Executive Director’s Speech to the 6th Forum of the Africa-Belgium Business Week in its original French, PLEASE CLICK HERE.
- To download the translation into English of the WDC Executive Director’s Speech to the 6th Forum of the Africa-Belgium Business Week, PLEASE CLICK HERE.
ABOVE: WDC President Stephane Fischler (right) and WDC Executive Director Marie-Chantal Kaninda (second from right) during the special EU-organized meeting examining the Kimberley Process, held on February 28, 2019, the day before the conflict diamond session of the UN General Assembly.
MARCH 4, 2019
The World Diamond Council has welcomed the adoption of a resolution by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on March 1, which calls for a strengthening of the Kimberley Process (KP), to more effectively sever the link between the illicit transaction of rough diamonds and armed conflict, thereby contributing to the maintenance of international peace and, in particular, security and sustainable development in artisanal diamond-mining regions. The resolution, which was proposed by the European Union (EU), was ratified by consensus by the members of the 193-member UNGA body.
“We are most heartened by the adoption of the resolution by the UNGA, not only because it echoes the call for reform that we advocated together with civil society at the most recent KP Plenary Meeting in Brussels, but also because it was passed with the support of all United Nations member countries, including those in whose territories diamonds are mined, processed, traded and sold in jewelry,” said WDC President Stephane Fischler. “We strongly hope that this across-the-board commitment to the continuous improvement in the integrity of the global rough diamond supply chain by all these nations will be repeated in the Kimberley Process forum over the course of this year.”
The resolution passed during the United Nations General Assembly’s 73rd Session expressly referenced discussions taking place in the Kimberley Process’ Ad Hoc Committee on Review and Reform, which is examining proposals supported by the WDC. Among these are the strengthening of the KP’s peer review mechanism, the establishment of a permanent KP Secretariat, and the broadening of the scope of the Kimberley Process, which the WDC and civil society have insisted requires the expansion of the definition of “conflict diamonds,” to include all forms of systemic violence in the diamond-mining areas. The UNGA resolution noted “initiatives put forward by participants, as well as joint initiatives by industry and by civil society as elements of a strengthened Kimberley Process…”
Mr. Fischler emphasized the inexorable link that the UNGA resolution made between the conflict-prevention role of the Kimberley Process and the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals. “It underscored our deeply-held belief that the KP’s role is not only defensive, but it is also proactive, in that it is a catalyst for creating societies with sustainable economic opportunities, where benefits are shared by all stakeholders, regardless of race or gender,” he stated.
“The industrialized diamond mining sector, which produces 85 percent of rough diamonds in terms of volume and 95 percent in terms of value, already invests hundreds of millions of dollars per annum, both directly and indirectly, in the development of economies and communities in the countries in which it is active. By eliminating the destabilizing factors that inherently exist in places plagued by systemic violence, a strengthened Kimberley Process will be a critical element in ensuring that similar contributions can take place in countries where artisanal mining is dominant. The diamond industry’s capacity to serve as a nation builder must come to be considered an integral part of the diamond’s value proposition,” Mr. Fischler said.
Hilde Hardeman, 2018 Chair of the Kimberley Process, addressing the United Nations General Assembly on March 1, 2019.
The WDC President thanked the European Union for its efforts in formulating and ensuring the successful adoption of the UNGA resolution, and he expressed the WDC’s hope that the expressions of commitment articulated during the debate ahead of the vote on March 1 signals the increased participation by the international body in the work of the Kimberley Process.
On February 28, Mr. Fischler was a featured speaker during a special meeting organized by the EU as part of the UNGA’s 73rd Session, entitled “From blood diamonds to peace diamonds: conflict prevention through the Kimberley Process.” Noting the effectiveness of the KP in helping eliminate the trade in diamonds being used to finance civil war, he nonetheless said that the system has been ineffective to date in reducing other forms of systemic violence.
“I will be blunt,” the WDC President told the special meeting. “Thus far the KP has failed to properly stem the incidence of ‘systemic violence,’ nor to reduce the tenuousness of stability in artisanal mining communities and the lack of development opportunities. However, with the KP currently in the final year of its review and reform cycle, it today has a unique opportunity to prove its potential of relieving millions of artisanal miners and their families, of the predicament they currently face.”
“[I]t is up to the UN and the KP member states to assure the future relevance of the Kimberley Process,” Mr. Fischler continued. “Standing before this assembly today I can assure you of my colleague’s support in heeding the call of the millions of artisanal miners, their families and communities that they finally share the same security and opportunities enjoyed by other members of our diamond industry, and so be able to provide their own countries, which are often in dire need of long-term development, with a more sustained income.”
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The special EU-organized meeting examining the Kimberley Process, held on February 28, 2019,in session.
FEBRUARY 28, 2019
ABOVE: United Nations headquarters in New York, location of the 73th Session of the UN General Assembly, which on February 28, 2019, will host the special meeting on ‘From blood diamonds to peace diamonds: conflict prevention through the Kimberley Process.’ (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
With 2019 being the final year of the Kimberley Process’ three-year review, the organization must grasp an historic opportunity to correct shortfalls in the system designed to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the chain of distribution, World Diamond Council President Stephane Fischler will tell a special meeting on the role of diamonds in fueling conflict, which is being conducted today in New York as part the United Nations General Assembly’s 73rd Session.
Mr. Fischler will speak on behalf of the diamond and jewelry industries in the session entitled “From blood diamonds to peace diamonds: conflict prevention through the Kimberley Process,” and specifically address the topic of the KP as both a conflict prevention tool and a facilitator of sustainable development, good governance and transparency. The session is being hosted by the European Union and will be attended by both the 2019 Chair of the Kimberley Process, Alok Chaturvedi of India, and the 2018 KP Chair, Hilde Hardeman of the European Commission, as well as by representatives of government, industry, civil society and academia.
In his address to the gathering Mr. Fischler will note that, while the UN-mandated Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which was launched in 2003, has proven itself successful in stemming the flow of diamonds that were financing rebel forces in civil wars, it has not been successful in addressing other types of mineral-related conflict, and in particular systemic violence in the mining areas. Since much of the latter has occurred in places where small-scale and artisanal mining is conducted, the KP has not met its potential as a facilitator of capacity building and sustainable economic development, Mr. Fischler will say.
However, by adopting a number of urgently-required reforms at the conclusion of its current review process, the KP has the capacity to correct its limitations, the WDC President will stress. These include improving the KP standards and modalities, such as the peer review mechanism; raising the level of representation and participation in the body, both by governments and the United Nations; improving the gathering and flow of essential data; and creating a permanent secretariat, which will be staffed by full-time professionals.
Critically, Mr. Fischler will stress, the Kimberley Process must galvanize its absolute commitment to its conflict-prevention mission, and this he said will require the expansion of the definition of “conflict diamonds” to cover all forms of systemic violence, including those carried out by state and private security forces. A proposal to this effect was put forward by the Government of Canada at last November’s KP Plenary Meeting in Brussels, and was supported by both the industry and civil society participants in the tripartite forum. The WDC President will call on the KP to achieve consensus on the issue before the end of the year.
While it waits for action from the Kimberley Process, Mr. Fischler will tell the gathering, the World Diamond Council is already conducting reforms of its own, to enable at the industry-level the type of progress it is advocating for the KP. These include a revised System of Warranties, tracking both rough and polished diamonds all the way to the jewelry retailer, which now expressly reference human rights and strict labor practices, and also support the OECD Due Diligence Guidelines for Minerals from High-Risk Areas.
NOVEMBER 20, 2018
ABOVE: Members of the WDC delegation at the 2019 Kimberley Process Plenary Meeting in Bussels, Belgium.
While reiterating its support for the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) as the most effective means possible to end the trade in conflict diamonds, the World Diamond Council (WDC) expressed concern that more progress was not made in reforming its scope during the 2018 KP Plenary Meeting that ended on Friday, November 16 hosted by the European Union in Brussels, Belgium.
Nonetheless, the WDC considered as positive the noting in the KP Plenary’s final communique of the submission by the Canadian government of an expanded definition of conflict diamonds, which had been proposed by WDC and its fellow KP observer, the Civil Society Coalition (CSC), and expressed hope that the Kimberley Process Participants will support the amendment and make further contributions ahead of the next KP Plenary in India in 2019. Furthermore, the WDC welcomed the decision of the KP Plenary to adopt all three Administrative decisions that were proposed by the industry. These included the ‘Establishment of a Kimberley Process Secretariat’, ‘Compilation of Modifications to Technical Definitions’ and ‘Use of Unified Diamond Nomenclature and Terminology as a Best Practice’. This result clearly showed the commitment of the industry to promote change and institutional effectiveness of the KP.
“We recognize the success of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) in addressing the issues raised within its mandate, as it relates to the original definition of conflict diamonds,” said World Diamond Council President Stephane Fischler. “As the achievements of the past demonstrate conclusively, the KPCS not only has the capacity to protect people in the mining areas, but also to provide them with opportunities that otherwise might not exist. This is particularly relevant when it comes to artisanal and small-scale miners, who account for 5-10 percent of rough diamond production by value. They are an important part of the up to 10 million workers that the diamond industry sustains globally and are particularly vulnerable from both the social and economic perspective. The KP should be playing a primary role in protecting their interests and enabling them to obtain legitimate access to the world markets.”
Mr. Fischler continued, “We remain hopeful that the KP can achieve tangible progress in its commitment towards reform in the future and we urge KP Participants to support efforts in constructive progress in this regard to achieve incremental change. The value of a diamond is enhanced by the positive values that communicates to the consumer, and we therefore believe that any effort to reinforce those values is worthy of discussion.”
The WDC is hopeful that a reformed KPCS will support and complement its strengthened System of Warranties, which were ratified at the Council’s Annual General Meeting in Mumbai last month. These recognize the importance of maintaining and building on international standards and initiatives that provide consumers with the assurances they seek around human rights.
The WDC’s System of Warranties is a critical component in the suite of standards and practices that are working to protect the integrity of diamonds, the diamond industry and populations in the diamond-mining areas, among them the OECD due diligence guidance, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and the Responsible Jewellery Council’s Code of Practices.
Mr. Fischler praised the critical role played by Hilde Hardeman, the outgoing Chair of the Kimberley Process, and her team at the European Union, noting their positive leadership and tremendous effort over the past year, often in challenging circumstances. He also wished the incoming Chair of India the best of luck, emphasizing that the WDC is committed to achieving meaningful reforms and doing what it can to the support the KP in meeting its challenges.
The WDC President paid special tribute to Mark Van Bockstael who is retiring after 16 years as the Chair of the KP’s Working Group of Diamond Experts. “There are literally millions of people whose lives and livelihoods were dramatically improved by the tireless work of Mark and his colleagues, who created almost from scratch the methodology and knowledge-base on which the KP is founded. He is pioneer and one of us, and we are tremendously proud of him and his achievements,” Mr. Fischler said.
NOVEMBER 12, 2018
The World Diamond Council (WDC) and the Civil Society Coalition (CSC) voiced their strong support for an expanded definition of conflict diamonds at the launch of the 2018 Plenary Session of the Kimberley Process (KP) in Brussels, Belgium. The proposal, put forward by the government of Canada, looks to strengthen the scope by expanding the KP’s official definition of what constitutes conflict diamonds.
The proposed change would expand the scope beyond rough stones that finance wars against governments, and supports the industry’s drive in protecting consumer confidence in diamonds and the value chain, as reflected by the System of Warranties (SoW) reforms recently launched by the WDC. The reforms require all industry participants to respect human rights in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, as well as encourages stronger industry understanding about the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Due Diligence Guidance.
More specifically, the proposal would expand the definition to include “rough diamonds used by public security forces or private (including criminal or mercenary) armed groups to acquire wealth through the illegal control, bribery, taxation, extortion or dispossession of people.” It would also include rough diamonds “acquired through systematic and widespread violence, forced labor, the worst forms of child labor, or through violations of international humanitarian law.”
The WDC also voiced its support for a declaration of principles for responsibly sourced diamonds proposed by the United States Government, covering human rights, community development, health and labor standards, environmental impacts, and the combatting of corruption, terrorism and organized crime. Such a statement, which recognizes and builds on standards and commitments that have already been endorsed by countries and industry organizations that represent major stakeholders in the diamond supply chain, is being put forward as another element of a strengthened KP.
In his speech to the KP Plenary on the opening day, WDC President Stephane Fischler urged support for these proposals. “This is a tremendous opportunity for us, through the KP process, to make a difference in the lives of people residing in some of the most challenged diamond-producing nations around the world.”
Its backers intend that the proposals will be the focus of discussions at Plenary this week on strengthening the scope of the Kimberley Process. It has been recommended that a phased implementation approach be adopted, to provide KP participants adequate time to adopt the new conflict diamond definition.
The proposals were drafted using inputs submitted earlier this year in a meeting held by KP Participants in Pretoria, South Africa, and concepts drafted by the European Union, the Civil Society Coalition and the WDC.
NOVEMBER 8, 2018
ABOVE: The Belgian capital of Brussels, site of next week's 2018 Kimberley Process Plenary meeting.
The World Diamond Council (WDC), an industry group focused on preventing conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate global supply chain and protecting the value of natural diamonds, intends to help pushing for progress on proposed reforms to the Kimberley Process at next week’s KP Plenary meeting in Brussels, Belgium, on November 12-16, 2018.
Specifically, the WDC is advocating for a broadening of the definition of conflict diamonds to address grave and systematic violence. It also seeks to establish a permanent secretariat and to strengthen the peer review mechanism, both of which are covered in Administrative Decisions that were submitted to the KP Chair for discussion and decision at the KP Plenary. The WDC also looks forward to a review of the KP Core document and supports the proposal to create a multi-stakeholder fund that will focus on capacity building.
“This is our final KP meeting of the year and it marks an important milestone as we close the second of a three-year review cycle for the KPCS,” said Stephane Fischler, President of the WDC. “I am encouraged so far by how members are embracing the spirit of collaboration and desire for reform. This makes it possible for us to remain singularly focused on driving meaningful change as part of the responsible sourcing commitment of the diamond industry. As an official industry observer in the KP, we are proud of our role in advocating and effecting change inside and outside of the process throughout the entire year. We look forward to continuing forward progress together.”
Over the past year, WDC executives have initiated discussions with a number of governments and international bodies, recognizing that one the most pressing needs is having a stronger and more diverse set of African nations engaged within the KP. This included holding a series of meetings with representatives of Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to discuss the challenges and opportunities in artisanal mining, and the social and economic benefits to communities that come with KP compliance. WDC executives also met with members of the European Union, the U.S. State Department, and the African Union to discuss the practical realities of Africa’s diamond mining nations, and what can be done to better support them as they strive toward compliance.
In addition to encouraging more African nations to join the KP, and advocating for KP reform, the WDC is enacting change within industry, starting with a revision and expansion of its System of Warranties (SoW). The newly adopted SoW and its Guidelines support and build on the assurances provided by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) by requiring all buyers and sellers of diamonds to incorporate industry’s commitment to promotion of human and labor rights, anti-corruption and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) practices.
The new SoW Guidelines were unanimously adopted during the recently concluded WDC General Annual Meeting in Mumbai. Enhanced commitments within the new SoW will be implemented on an ongoing basis with the development of a dedicated toolkit.
OCTOBER 25, 2018
ABOVE: World Diamond Council Board Members at the organization's 14th Annual General Meeting in Mumbai, India
The World Diamond Council (WDC) concluded its 14th Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Mumbai, India this week, reaching consensus on critical areas of reform for both the Kimberley Process and the WDC System of Warranties (SoW).
Resolutions for further improvement of a responsible supply chain and enhanced self-regulation exercise within the WDC SoW Guidelines were passed. A Board- instructed strategic planning committee will develop a member’s toolkit to help in the implementation of the guidelines respecting the realities and practicalities of the diamond supply chain. These guidelines will introduce the strongest level of adherence to date for SoW statement users, requiring adherence to universally accepted principles on human and labor rights, anticorruption and anti-money laundering in support of mandatory Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) implementation and including the inclusion of OECD due diligence guidelines. Changes will be implemented on an ongoing basis and will be included in the upcoming 2021-2025 WDC Strategic Plan.
WDC Board members also re-affirmed their continued commitment to KP reform with agreement to push forward on an expanded definition of conflict diamonds to address human security and environmental concerns. Other KP reforms agreed were for a permanent secretariat and strengthening of the peer review mechanism, both of which Administrative Decisions have been respectively submitted to the KP Chair for discussions and vote at the upcoming KP Plenary next month. Board members also agreed to support the other KP reform items, such as the review of the Core document and multi-stakeholder fund which would focus on capacity building.
WDC Board Meeting included the elections of the Officers, with the appointment of Edward Asscher as Vice President, the re-election of Ronnie Vanderlinden as Treasurer, and re-appointment of Udi Sheintal as Secretary-General.
Stephane Fischler, president of the WDC, said, “This year’s session was important for many reasons, not the least of which is that our members truly embraced the spirit of collaboration and cooperation which accelerates our ability to drive important change within the industry and through our role as industry observers to the KP. We are grateful to our hosts The Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) for facilitating this year’s annual meeting and we look forward to the KP Plenary next month in Brussels where many of this year’s resolutions are expected to be confirmed.”
In related news, the WDC has continued its efforts to advocate for positive change by working to resolve one of the most pressing needs of the KP: bringing more African nations and voices into the process. To this end, prior to the WDC AGM, the WDC Executive Director Marie-Chantal Kaninda addressed the European Union in their capacity of KP chair to educate and explain the criticality of the African voice to the success of the KP and ways the EU can help to encourage participation in the process. Ms. Kaninda also addressed a session held at the African Union hosted by Ambassador Albert M. Muchanga, African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry. This was the first time that the WDC addressed this distinguished group and Ms. Kaninda discussed how the KP could be used as a development tool for African nations, how the expansion of the conflict diamond definition could lower risk and increase revenue for compliant nations, and the role of the Permanent Secretariat to improving the KP process.
WDC Executive Director Marie-Chantal Kaninda concluded, “More than 60 percent of the world's diamonds come from African soil, yet many of its nation’s have yet to reap the social, economic and infrastructure benefits that this resource brings. It is our obligation as an industry to ensure that their voices are heard so that we can create a path for positive change for these vital diamond producing countries. It is through participation and compliance with the Kimberley Process that all nations together will prosper through ethical and responsible sourcing.”
World Diamond Council Executive Director Marie-Chantal Kaninda (middle, in floral gown) during the African Union session at which she was the guest speaker.
OCTOBER 18, 2018
ABOVE: Mumbai, the site of the WDC's 2018 Annual General Meeting, the 14th to be held by the organization.
The World Diamond Council (WDC) will kick off its 14th Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Mumbai, India on October 22 -23 with a focus on reform of the Kimberley Process and WDC System of Warranties in support of a commitment to sustainable development by the diamond industry.
The meeting will be hosted by The Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). This year’s event will welcome several new member organizations that strengthen the collective voice of the Council, particularly in Belgium, China and Africa. The agenda is expected to continue to focus on a push for reform, both externally in the Kimberley Process (KP) where the WDC serves as the industry’s observer, and from within through changes to the industry’s System of Warranties (SoW). The SoW extends the assurances provided by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) by requiring all diamond suppliers and diamond jewelry manufacturers to pass on a conflict free warranty statement each time diamond goods (rough or polished) change hands.
“I would like to thank the GJEPC for hosting this year’s meeting and express our gratitude for the important voice they bring to our efforts to strengthen the global integrity of the global diamond supply chain,” said Stephane Fischler, president of the WDC. “I am motivated by the progress we have made so far in this second year of a three-year review cycle for the KPCS. I want to encourage our members to continue that spirit of improvement, using this year’s event to listen to one another and find common ground so that we can show the world we are one voice committed to positive change.”
Pramod Kumar Agrawal, chairman of the GJEPC, added “This is the first time GJEPC is hosting this important event and we are honored to have our industry colleagues from the world with us during such an auspicious time just before the Kimberley Process Plenary in Brussels next month. As an expression of the Indian gem and jewellery industry’s ongoing commitment for ensuring a favorable environment for trade of gems and jewellery in the world market, today we fully endorse the KP reforms process which is underway, as it will create a more organized and transparent system. GJEPC is a long-time member of the World Diamond Council and believes that adopting a stronger system of warranties for industry with a contemporary view on conflict diamonds, is amongst the most important considerations impacting the future of our industry. We look forward to actively participate in the discussions and resolutions this week as we work together toward meaningful change.”
Closed-door sessions on October 22nd will include a review and vote on proposed revisions to the industry’s SoW, including input gathered during the public review period that concluded earlier this month. The reform envisions the creation of a new level of adherence among SoW statement users and requiring adherence to universally accepted principles on human and labor rights, anticorruption and anti-money laundering in support of mandatory Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) implementation. Changes will be implemented on an ongoing basis and will be included in the upcoming 2021-2025 WDC Strategic Plan.
The WDC is also encouraging KPCS reform focused in the areas of:
- Broadening the scope of the KP to increase the likelihood of safe and secure working conditions, fair labor practices and sustainable development in diamond communities.
- Establishing a permanent secretariat to strengthen long-term implementation of the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme.
- Strengthening the KPCS minimum standards by strengthening the peer review mechanism.
New Members strengthen voice of WDC globally
The Board of Directors meeting on October 22nd will include new WDC members, as Invitees of the President and new committee members. This includes The Shanghai Diamond Exchange, Diamond Counselor International, Arslanian Group and Fischler Diamonds NV, with others pending. Membership by these organizations strengthens the voice of industry in key global diamond centers including Belgium, China and Africa.
- The Shanghai Diamond Exchange is the only channel for the import and export of diamonds in China, providing fair and safe transaction venues with closed-door management for world diamond dealers. With membership it brings its base of 393 members to the WDC.
- Diamond Counselor International is the leading international authority on rough diamond valuations handling over $1.5 billion worth of rough diamonds each year, with clients including governments, mining companies, financial institutions and NGOs.
- The addition of Antwerp, Belgium-based Arslanian Group and Fischler Diamonds NV furthers strengthens European representation on the Council. Arslanian Group is a leading international company in the global trade of rough diamond, active in both polishing and manufacturing with a focus on Africa and broad network across Asia and the Middle East. Fischler Diamonds NV operates internationally as a family-owned manufacturer and trader of diamonds.
The session on October 23rd will be open to the press and will feature speeches from Pramod K. Agrawal, chairman of the GJEPC; WDC President Stephane Fischler; KP Chair Hilde Hardeman; and key note speeches by the Commerce Secretary of India Mr. Anup Wadhawan and Mr. A. Parthasaraty, known as Swamiji, a pre-eminent philosopher from Vedanta Academy in India. The Head of the KP Civil Society Coalition, Shamiso Mitsi, is also expected to speak to the group.
World Diamond Council Executive Director Marie-Chantal Kaninda (middle, in floral gown) during the African Union session at which she was the guest speaker.
SEPTEMBER 5, 2018
The World Diamond Council (WDC) is encouraging stakeholders to review the System of Warranties (SoW) during its public review period, which began on June 5 and ends on October 1, 2018.
This review period is intended to help industry participants better implement and demonstrate commitment to responsible sourcing when buying or selling rough and polished diamonds.
“Public review of the SoW is crucial to ensuring a transparent process as we continue to uphold our promise to customers that they can trust that the diamonds they purchase have been sourced responsibly,” said Stephane Fischler, President of the WDC. “We look forward to receiving comments from our stakeholders that reflect our commitment to upholding the integrity in the global diamond supply chain.”
The SoW reforms establish a new level of adherence for members and call on users of SoW statements to ensure their trading activities maintain strict adherence of universally accepted principles on human and labor rights, anticorruption, and anti‐money laundering in support of the mandatory Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) implementation.
The new SoW reforms are planned to be implemented beginning in 2019.
JULY 23, 2018
World Diamond Council (WDC) executives traveled to Angola last week for a series of meetings with stakeholders involved in the Kimberley Process (KP). WDC Acting President Stephane Fischler and Executive Director Marie-Chantal Kaninda made the trip at the invitation of Angolan authorities, marking the first time there has been a WDC mission to Angola outside of a formal KP meeting. The meetings are part of a larger effort by the diamond industry to raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities for African countries as part of their participation in the KP. The trip follows a meeting in Antwerp earlier this year between the WDC, the Antwerp World Diamond Center (AWDC) and the President of Angola. The WDC also recently completed a visit with KP stakeholders in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
An estimated 60 percent of the world’s diamonds are sourced from African countries. In Angola, diamonds are the country’s second-largest export. For the whole of 2017, diamond exports brought in gross revenues to Angola of USD $1.1 billion.
“With diamonds being such a critical part of African economies, I cannot underscore enough how critical it is to listen and engage directly not only to help reach a more sustainable global diamond industry, but one that brings back to local communities the social and economic benefits they rightly deserve and ensures fair income for African governments and their trading partners,” said Stephane Fischler, Acting President of the World Diamond Council. “This mission is yet another example of our commitment to this process and to fulfilling the duty of care we all owe to local communities where diamonds are produced as well as to global consumers.”
WDC executives were hosted by Angola’s KP Focal Point representatives Mr. Estanislao Buio, Executive Secretary, and Mr. Paolo Mvika, Coordinator. KP Focal Points are part of the National Commission of the KP and act as official KP representatives for their respective
While there, Mr. Fischler and Ms. Kaninda met with H.E. Diamantino Azevedo, Angola’s Minister of Mineral Resources and Petroleum.
They also met with Mr. Eugenio P. Bravo Da Rosa, President of the Board of Directors of SODIAM, Angola's National Diamond Marketing Company, and Mr. Jose Ganga Junior, President of the Board of Directors of Endiama E.P., Empresa Nacional de Diamantes E.P., the national diamond company that is the exclusive concessionary of mining rights for diamonds in Angola.
At the invitation of the Minister of Mines, the visit included a tour to an Angolan diamond polishing factory.
One-on-one discussions with KP stakeholders focused on the ongoing reform of the KP, including the challenges and opportunities related to the scope of the definition of conflict diamonds.
WDC and Angolan stakeholders discussed at length the important efforts underway today in Angola to formalize the artisanal mining sector. This effort is part of the country’s strategy to improve its position globally in the production and commercialization of diamonds.
Artisanal mining is an area of heightened focus globally. Though it only represents 20 percent in volume of overall diamond production worldwide (80 percent the result of industrial production), it is the area where the most progress is yet to be made with respect to safety, security and fair wages for diamond miners and their families.
In this context, challenges linked to local and regional realities were shared as well as ideas and opportunities for solutions, such as the Regional approach led by the KP Working Group on Artisanal and Alluvial Production.
Discussions concluded with broad support from the Angolan representatives for reform of the KP process, as well as support for the establishment of the KP Permanent Secretariat.
“We are very happy with the success of our visits to both the Democratic Republic of Congo and now Angola,” Ms. Kaninda said. “There was strong support from the parties we met with and we feel that there is a recognition for the need for progress right alongside us. We are encouraged by the open and honest character of the discussions and thankful for the warm and generous hospitality. As we begin to plan more visits with other African governments to raise awareness around ethical artisanal mining production, I am confident that together we will achieve the goals of improved prosperity for diamond producing nations, communities and citizens.
Stephane Fischler, Acting President of the WDC, addressing the Kimberley Process Interessional Meeting in Antwerp, Belgium.
JUNE 19, 2018
The World Diamond Council, an industry group focused on preventing conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate global supply chain and protecting the value of natural diamonds, reaffirmed its commitment to driving ongoing positive change through reform at the 2018 KP Intersessional meeting being held in Antwerp, Belgium June 18-22. The Intersessional is an annual forum where members gather to discuss the technical aspects of the various working groups that comprise the Kimberley Process. Individual members of the WDC currently serve on a range of KP working groups that include Monitoring, CAR Monitoring Team, Statistics, Rules and Procedures, Participation and Chairmanship, Alluvial and Artisanal Production and Diamond Experts.
In a speech planned for later today, Stephane Fischler, Acting President of the WDC, is expected to reiterate the need for KP review and reform in the areas of scope of conflict diamonds, KPCS minimum standards, and long term implementation of KPCS directives via a Permanent Secretariat. He is also expected to appeal to alluvial diamond producing countries in particular to embrace the opportunities for progress and improving lives in their own communities made possible with the KP.
In addition to encouraging KP reform, the WDC continues to advocate for positive change from within. This month the WDC System of Warranties (SoW) entered a public review period following the completion of an industry review. The WDC SoW extends the assurances provided by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) by requiring all diamond suppliers and diamond jewelry manufacturers to pass on a conflict free warranty statement each time diamond goods (rough or polished) change hands. It also asks SoW statement users to ensure that trading activities maintain strict adherence of universally accepted principles on human and labor rights, anticorruption and anti-money laundering in support of the obligatory implementation.
The WDC is also taking an active role throughout the year in encouraging reform by meeting directly with organizations and governments that can effect change in areas where the issues of conflict diamonds are most acute. Last month, executives from the WDC traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and met with the chair of the Working Group on Artisanal and Alluvial Production (WGAAP); the Minister of Mines; the Center for Evaluation, Expertise and Certification (CEEC) chair; deputy chair and team; the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI); and DRC civil society members. In April 2018, the WDC pledged its support to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) due diligence guidance (DDG) for responsible supply chains of minerals from conflict-affected and high-risk areas.
“Together through the KP, civil society, government and industry are making important progress toward long-term solutions that address the modern challenges of diamond communities around the world,” said Mr. Fischler. “But that is not enough. We must also look within ourselves to encourage dialogue, listen to concerns and drive meaningful and ongoing progress from within. By constructively challenging policies and procedures, together we will create a better path forward and uphold the duty of care we owe to the people and communities where diamonds are produced.”
WDC members such as ALROSA, Arslanian Group NV, AWDC, De Beers Group, Diarough, Dominion Diamond Mines ULC, Grib Diamonds, IDI, Jewelers of America, Malca Amit, Rubel & Menasche, Signet Jewelers Ltd. and the WFDB are present during this year’s KP Intersessional in Antwerp.
JUNE 5, 2018
The World Diamond Council (WDC) System of Warranties (SoW) has entered a public review period following the completion of an industry review. The SoW review and reform process is part of the WDC Strategic Plan and is intended to help industry participants better implement and demonstrate commitment to responsible business conduct when buying or selling rough and polished diamonds. The reforms establish a new level of adherence for members and call on users of SoW statements to ensure their trading activities maintain strict adherence of universally accepted principles on human and labor rights, anticorruption and anti-money laundering in support of the obligatory Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) implementation.
The draft of the SoW Guidelines are available for review now and the public review period ends on October 1, 2018. A paper explaining the Reform of the System of Warranties is also available. The new reforms are planned to be implemented beginning in 2019.
Acting President of the WDC, Stephane Fischler, said “Maintaining the integrity of the legitimate diamond supply chain requires constant vigilance and an ongoing progression of policies and practices to ensure that we address the modern challenges facing our industry, today and tomorrow. While the definition of conflict diamonds as those used to fund rebel movements has provided the necessary focus to drive important change, it is a heartbreaking and indisputable truth that the nature of what constitutes conflict has evolved. These SoW reforms reflect our commitment to uphold the duty of care owed to diamond communities by helping ensure safe and secure working conditions, fair labor practices and sustainable development. It also serves as our promise to consumers that they can trust the diamonds they purchase to have been sourced responsibly and ethically.”
Created in 2000 as part of industry self-regulation, the WDC SoW extends the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) by providing added assurances against conflict diamonds entering the legitimate supply chain. The KPCS safeguards the shipment of rough diamonds and certifies them as conflict-free. The WDC SoW picks up from there, requiring all diamond suppliers and diamond jewelry manufacturers to pass on a conflict free warranty statement each time diamond goods (rough or polished) change hands, assuring the next buyer that the diamonds originated within the Kimberley Process system.
31 MAY, 2018
The Executive Director of the Workd Diamond Council (WDC), Marie-Chantal Kaninda, today addressed U.S. State Department officials and civil society members on the topic of responsible diamond sourcing and the Kimberley Process. This is the first time that the WDC presented to the U.S. State Department and supports the WDC’s strategy to raise awareness for, and encourage participation in, efforts to combat conflict diamonds.
The presentation is part of a series hosted by the U.S. State Department Office of Threat Finance Countermeasures (EB/TFS/TFC), which advances policies that seek to minimize the funding available to groups that pose a threat to domestic, international and regional security. This includes groups that exploit the illicit trade in conflict diamonds and minerals to fund their operations against legitimate governments.
In her presentation, Ms. Kaninda shared the history of responsible diamond sourcing via the WDC, the Kimberley Process (KP) and the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). She spoke of the current contributions to education, healthcare, employment and economic development made possible through responsible sourcing. She also looked ahead to the future, discussing areas where change and improvement is needed to continue to make a positive difference. These areas included the scope of conflict diamonds, KPCS minimum standards, and long term implementation of KPCS directives via a Permanent Secretariat.
Ms. Kaninda closed her presentation by reminding audiences that industry, government and civil society are stronger together. She urged participation in the WDC and asked U.S. State Department officials to support meaningful changes by exercising their voting rights as KP members. She also appealed to audiences as diamond consumers to continue to insist on ethically sourced products.
Acting President of the WDC, Stephane Fischler, said, “Ms. Kaninda’s presentation is an important opportunity for us to continue to spread the diamond industry message of accountability, action and meaningful outcomes. We must all come together with one common purpose and fulfill the duty of care owed to diamond producing communities to protect their right to a secure, healthy and prosperous livelihood. We also hold our responsibility to consumers in the highest regard, those who buy our products with an expectation that the diamonds are ethically and responsibly sourced. By encouraging others to join our cause, we can ensure that the chain of trust remains unbroken.”
Pictured from left to right: Paul Mabolia (World Bank), Didace Kinwani (negotiant), Marie-Chantal Kaninda (executive director of the WDC), Pepe Kinwani (negotiant), Stephane Fischler (acting president of the WDC).
Stephane Fischler and Marie-Chantal Kaninda with the WGAAP chair and the CEEC team.
MAY 16, 2018
Stephane Fischler, acting president of the World Diamond Council (WDC) and Marie-Chantal Kaninda, executive director of the WDC, traveled last week to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to meet with key stakeholders involved in the Kimberley Process (KP). Fischler and Kaninda met with the chair of the Working Group on Artisanal and Alluvial Production (WGAAP), the Minister of Mines, the Center for Evaluation, Expertise and Certification (CEEC) chair, deputy chair and team, the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI), DRC civil society members and mining companies, cooperatives and exporters. Separate meetings were held with the ambassadors from the European Union and Canada. Fischler and Kaninda also visited embassies of the countries involved in the KP, the Department for International Development (DFID), World Bank and UN Women.
“We personally meet with parties involved in the Kimberley Process because it is crucial to have these interpersonal interactions and hear the opinions of stakeholders as we work through the KP reform process. It is a process that requires time and discussions with both those that are impacted and those that implement the Kimberley Process in their countries. These productive discussions help us identify where progress is being made and where there remains room for necessary improvement,” Fischler said.
The meetings primarily focused on two topics: the support from the DRC in regard to KP reform and establishment of the Permanent Secretariat, and the process of formalization, registration and traceability of the artisanal miners in the DRC. All the local actors praised the very successful formalization drive by the DDI that has resulted in 200,000 artisanal miners so far being registered with the support of the Ministry of Mines.
Outcomes from these discussions were positive and brought to light improvements that should be highlighted, as well as challenges that continue to exist. A new mining code, “Code Minier,” has been enacted in the country and greatly improved provisions in favor of artisanal mining. The main challenge being tackled now is improving working conditions for the artisans within traceability standards as proposed by the DDI and involving the miners’ communities in further discussions on the future of diamond mining in the DRC.
“The DRC government and mining agencies recognize the importance of working to formalize the artisanal miners and expressed commitment to improving traceability, for which their efforts merit recognition,” Kaninda said. “Our discussions were extremely valuable and we look forward to continue building these relationships and participating in similar meetings with stakeholders in Angola later this summer.”
Stephane Fischler (third from left), Acting President of the WDC, during a session fo the OECD Responsible Mineral Supply Chain Forum in Paris. He is flanked by David Bouffard (second from left), Chairman of WDC's Communications Committee, and Tyler Gillard, head of the OECD's Responsible Mineral Supply Chain unit.
APRIL 24, 2018
The World Diamond Council (WDC), an industry group focused on preventing conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate global supply chain and protecting the value of natural diamonds, announced today its support of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Due Diligence Guidance (DDG) at the Annual OECD Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains.
“The World Diamond Council is committed to establishing a sustainable and safe environment for mining communities, and we believe the OECD DDG assurance process is a critical factor for advancing that vision,” said WDC Acting President Stephane Fischler. Building on the Kimberley Process and along with the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, the International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA), the World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO) and the Responsible Jewellery Council, we are confident in the various industry initiatives that now exist to dramatically reduce conflict diamonds.”
More than a dozen members of the WDC attended the OECD Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains this week, and two members served as panelists in a discussion about the future of diamonds. As the first mineral based industry to introduce its own due diligence process for responsible supply chains (in conjunction with governments and under the United Nations), the diamond sector was in a unique position to offer insight and guidance at the Forum, based on the success of its own Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), which has been in place since 2003.
In its third edition, the OECD DDG provides detailed recommendations to help companies respect human rights and avoid contributing to conflict through their mineral purchasing decisions and practices. This Guidance is for use by any company potentially sourcing minerals or metals from conflict-affected and high-risk areas.
APRIL 17, 2018
ABOVE: Headquarters of the OECD in Paris, the venue of the 2018 Responsible Mineral Supply Chains Forum.
More than a dozen members of the World Diamond Council (WDC) will attend the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains this week, and two members will serve as panelists in a discussion about the future of diamonds. As the first mineral based industry to introduce its own due diligence process for responsible supply chains (in conjunction with governments and under the United Nations), the diamond sector is in a unique position to offer insight and guidance, based on the success of its own Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), which has been in place since 2003.
The 2018 Forum on responsible mineral supply chains is being held at the OECD Conference Centre in Paris, France from April 17-20, 2018. This is the first year that the WDC will speak at this important event.
On Wednesday, April 18 WDC Acting President Stephane Fischler, and WDC member and Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Signet Jewelers David Bouffard, will be participating with others in a panel discussion entitled “Diamonds – Looking Ahead”. In addition, members of the WDC will be attending private bilateral meetings with industry leaders from the European Union.
The OECD promotes policies that improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world by providing a forum in which governments can work together to share experiences and seek solutions to common problems. The 2018 Forum is expected to focus on, among other things, the OECD due diligence guidelines and how companies can incorporate them into their own business practices to ensure a responsible supply chain for a wide range of mineral resources.
For the last 15 years the diamond industry has adhered to strict guidelines, as a means of eliminating conflict diamonds from the legitimate supply chain. The Kimberley Process (KP) is a binding agreement that imposes extensive requirements on every participant of the diamond supply chain. The visible evidence of this commitment is that it both safeguards the shipment of rough diamonds and certifies them as conflict-free.
In addition, the WDC introduced a System of Warranties (SoW) to comply with, support and strengthen the KPCS. During the latest WDC Annual General Meeting in October 2017, it was reviewed and consensus reached to formalize principles related to the duty of care for responsible business practices. The principles are intended to raise awareness and incorporate more human rights assurances, as recommended by various governance-related international and national treaties. These principles should be easily incorporated into any size organization, including small and medium sized businesses. Diamond industry members of the WDC are close to finalizing the Guidelines which will serve to update the SoW.
“We remain supportive of efforts to broaden the scope of the KPCS mission and as such of wider due diligence requirements that we believe are necessary to preempt systemic violence and abuse, particularly within artisanal mining communities where the issue is most acute,” said WDC Acting President Stephane Fischler. “These efforts will play a vital role in creating an environment suitable for long term peace and will help establish a safe, healthy and fair environment necessary for communities to grow and thrive.”
In its third edition, OECD Due Diligence Guidance (DDG) provides detailed recommendations to help companies respect human rights and avoid contributing to conflict through their mineral purchasing decisions and practices. This Guidance is for use by any company potentially sourcing minerals or metals from conflict-affected and high-risk areas.
Both the diamond industry Guidelines and the OECD DDG are voluntary and place the responsibility of stewardship on the companies directly. In doing so, it enables companies throughout the supply chain the ability to verify and validate the sources of the diamonds they purchase as they move from rough, to loose polished, to mounted in fine jewelry. The OECD DDG builds on KPCS SoW Guidelines for companies who are involved in sourcing in high risk areas and those that want to go beyond the KP requirements by conducting additional due diligence on their supply chain to ensure integrity of provenance.
Marie-Chantal Kaninda, Executive Director of the World Diamond Council (WDC), during the Africa-Belgium Business Week Forum.
WDC Executive Director Marie-Chantal Kaninda addressing the Africa-Belgium Business Week Forum.
MARCH 28, 2018
Marie-Chantal Kaninda, Executive Director of the World Diamond Council (WDC), used the diversity of the diamond supply chain as an example of the successful collaboration that results from globalization of the economy in her opening speech at the Africa-Belgium Business Week (ABBW) Forum this week. Kaninda served as the president of the fifth edition of the ABBW, a forum organized by Africa Rise, a Belgium-based organization that aims to facilitate contact between European businesses and their African counterparts to promote Africa’s economic and social emergence.
“This forum will allow all the economic and political forces from Europe, Canada (Quebec) and Africa to meet and have fruitful exchanges,” Kaninda said. “Language is of course a vector of rapprochement between these three places, but above all there is cultural multiplicity, thus devolving an immeasurable wealth. To illustrate this richness, diversity in the diamond chain is a good example. The production of these gems originates in Africa, part of Europe, Canada and other regions, while India has become the expert in cutting and polishing. On the other hand, jewellery is mostly assembled in Europe and the United States, and finally the major consumers of diamond jewellery are in the United States, China and Europe.”
Kaninda, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), joined the World Diamond Council as its executive director in March 2017. She brought with her over 20 years of experience from working at companies such as Anglo Gold Ashanti, De Beers and Rio Tinto, mostly in Africa. Kaninda has also served as the chair of the Anti-Corruption Initiative for the private sector of the DRC and sits on the board of directors of the Diamond Development Initiative.
The World Diamond Council is an excellent example of the collaboration showcased at this forum as it represents every sector of the diamond supply chain across the world, from miner to retailer, with stakeholders in both Africa and Belgium. In addition to her opening speech, Kaninda also gave a presentation on the WDC informing attendees about the organization, the Kimberley Process and the significance of both.
Stephane Fischler, Acting President of the WDC, addressing the Kimberley Process Interessional Meeting in Antwerp, Belgium.
MARCH 7, 2018
Stephane Fischler, Acting President of the World Diamond Council (WDC), has addressed a side event, held in New York as part of this year's session fo the Un General Assembly. Comprising a panel discussion, it was entitled “The Kimberley Process, sustaining peace and achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: the diamond industry as a model for transforming lives.”
Representing the WDC along with Mr. Fischler were Marie-Chantal Kaninda, Executive Dirrector, and WDC board members Gaetano Cavalieri, President of the CIBJO, the World Jewellery Confederation; Ronnie Vanderlinden, President of the U.S. Jewelry Council; Dave Bonaparte, CEO of Jewelers of America; David Bouffard, Vice President of Corporate Affairs of Signet Jewelers, and Tiffany Stevens, President an CEO of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee.
The following is the text of Mr. Fischler's address:
The first ever mineral-based global mechanism to contribute to settling armed conflicts, the KP has over its relatively young life significantly contributed to peace and security, and so, enabling the diamond industry to support and create employment, income and livelihoods for millions of people.
A vast number of diamond industry companies and their principals have shown for decades that “diamonds” do transform lives. From the prime examples of Botswana and Yakutia in the Russian Federation, to even the smallest companies in India, Belgium, Israel, the US and many others.
The impact has been impressive for some countries and most important to their indigent communities. Some have shown that the responsible management of minerals is material to socio economic development. Others have unfortunately failed and too often done so with dire consequences.
The risk of conflict fueled by a mix of lack of capacity, transparency, toxic politics, corruption, greed, outside intervention and the presence of precious minerals such as diamonds, gold, coltan and others is ongoing.
But it need not to be that way.
As the voice of industry in the KP, the WDC believes that in this important year of KP Review, there are three areas in urgent need of reform:
- Expanding the meaning and scope of conflict diamonds to increase the likelihood of safe and secure working conditions, fair labor practices and sustainable development in diamond communities.
- Adding a permanent secretariat in a neutral country, a crucial role for strengthening the long-term implementation of the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme by improving the implementation of KP agreed decisions, more effectively restoring KPCS implementation in sanctioned countries and better supporting development projects in Participant countries.
- Strengthening the KPCS minimum standards by making the peer review mechanism stronger.
These changes will be critical in the path to peace and long term change in the lives of millions who are today denied their basic rights to a secure and decent livelihood.
To do so, there must be recognition and governance by those entrusted by the people for the people. Through proper governance and the ethical conduct managing and delivering and maintaining, at a bare minimum basic services and infrastructure comes trust.
When trust is earned, people feel respected and empowered and the feeling of nation building is secured.
Those who achieved this trust now have the right tools to long term and sustainable development: confidence and care.
Duty of care, from top to bottom, between the minister of mines to the actual miner and all participants along the chain.
The diamond industry in all its facets, from mine to finger, is represented in the KP by the World Diamond Council and we understand our duties and responsibilities.
But the WDC is too often confused with a development agency, conflict prevention specialists, or even government agents. We are none of those things. We cannot accept to be laden with the failures of those whose responsibilities these are.
And yet we never disengaged from the KP nor from the challenges of artisanal diamond mining. We continue to push for change from the inside, even though we must do so indirectly, as observers, in an environment of complicated processes involving many actors and an incredible amount of mitigating factors. Being here at the UN you all understand better than anyone the challenges encountered and our mixed feelings of hope and commitment, but also frustration.
Fortunately, the vast majority of diamond mining countries have delivered well documented and lasting change for millions of men, women, and children.
A minority has so far failed to deliver on the enormous potential for good that defines diamonds, while the others stay focused on adding and sharing value.
But there is hope to drive change, and we are encouraged by the KP decision, achieved by consensus under the Australian chairmanship led by Robert Owen- Jones assisted by Nick Williams to secure a 2-year review and reform process which will start under the EU chairmanship and followed by the Indian chairmanship. We thank Angola for having accepted to co-chair this important responsibility. But we need leaders on the ground to make it happen.
The WDC would like again to thank The PR China, the EU, India, Russia and the US who have given their strong support to the Chair and our African partners to engage in this review and reform process. It must now deliver.
To the Civil Society Coalition, thank you for our recent meeting and the very open and fair exchange of ideas. Now led and overwhelmingly represented by
African-based NGOs, it has shared with us its focus and mission on securing lasting changes to benefit the artisanal diamond communities.
Making sure those most at risk and affected become full participants in the value chain. A goal around which the industry and its partners are fully aligned on.
The Kimberley Process definition of conflict diamonds has provided the necessary focus to drive important change. But it is an unfortunate truth that the nature of what constitutes conflict has evolved. We want to reiterate that we, unequivocally support change and believe it is necessary to achieve the goals describe above. We acknowledge that this will be a difficult and challenging task ahead. Creating a new definition that would secure preventive actions on the ground.
But it only takes a few good women and men securing the trust of their people to drive change. We are fortunate to have some of them with us.
Let us make sure the reform process will change the few of the past into the many of the future and help these countries secure their rightful place and achieve the best value from their mineral resource wealth among the Botswana’s, Namibia’s, South-Africa’s, Russia’s, Canada’s, Australia’s of the diamond mining industry.
Thank you again for the opportunity to represent a very proud industry as we continue to fight for the needed reform efforts within the Kimberley Process.