WDC PRESIDENT 2016 INTERSESSIONAL OPENING REMARKS

26 May 2016
WDC PRESIDENT 2016 INTERSESSIONAL OPENING REMARKS

Honorable KP Chair Mr. Ahmed Bin Sulayem,
distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

 


First of all, allow me on behalf of the WDC to thank the UAE for their warm hospitality and professionalism in organizing all the KP activities in 2016.

 


Today is the first time I address you as the President of the World Diamond Council. I would like to use this opportunity to express my opinion as the diamond business representative.

 


When a person buys a piece of jewellery with a diamond, he is unlikely to imagine how cosmical the story behind it is. A diamond is more than a shiny stone in a precious metal framing. Every stone carries the labor of many workers and welfare of their families, scientific and technical inventions, and development of economies. The diamond business is a global industry that generates millions of jobs worldwide, from Siberia to South Africa, from India to the United States. Diamond businesses form the budgets of regions and even countries, allowing them to evolve and provide decent living conditions for its citizens. Diamond businesses provide huge social support to the people, helping them get medical care, education and opportunities for self-fulfillment. And, of course, for over a hundred years, the diamond industry gives people worldwide the opportunity to express their feelings to their loved ones, to capture the important moments of life.

 


Being so vast, the diamond industry brings together a huge number of different people, cultures, philosophies, perspectives and approaches. It includes diamond miners, diamond dealers and international trading hubs, thousands of diamond cutters, thousands of jewellers and countless number of small retail stores around the world.


    
Each of them operates independently and is not able to solve the problems of the entire industry alone. There is only one organization that acts as the united representative of the whole diamond pipeline – the World Diamond Council. Created at the initiative of WFDB and IDMA, the WDC develops a common position of the industry within the Kimberley Process.

 


The KP is a unique industry organization aimed to protect the market from conflict diamonds. For the past 15 years, the KP has achieved spectacular progress. Today the problem of conflict diamonds is almost completely resolved, and we can confidently say that more than 99% of diamonds on the market today are conflict-free. Diamond mining and trading, which used to have the reputation of a murky business, now is calling the industry for the establishment of best practices and transparency. Mining companies in all countries are critically examined, and any buyer of rough diamonds can get a special certificate, confirming that these stones are not associated with conflict.

 


The KP was created on the initiative of three major forces - nations, civil society and industry, who realized the need to join efforts to protect the market.

 


We as the industry representative believe that this symbiosis ensures its sustainability and success.

 


The KP family is based on the fundamental will to make the diamond industry transparent and self-regulated in order to insure men and women that diamonds which bring shiny emotions into their lives also provide millions of jobs, education, healthcare and better living condition opportunities all over the world.

 


As in any family, the KP members have different views, opinions, agreements and disagreements with each other. However, we must remember that the viability of KP, as the viability of any family, depends on the willingness and ability of its members to work together, listen to each other, to compromise and to reach consensus.
These core values as well as the consensus principle unite us and let us move forward. We deeply regret the fact that UAE and Civil Society Coalition did not find common ground. As a result we do not see CSC members at this meeting. My opinion is that we cannot solve the problem if we are to abandon the dialogue. The WDC remains open to further act as mediator if both parties see such need and are ready to
make concessions.

 


The desire for dialogue is an important, vital condition for the success of the WDC and the KP. As I mentioned, the WDC brings together a variety of participants from various segments of our industry. They often have different goals and different points of view on the same problem. But we must remember that the unity and integrity of our industry is much more important than any tactical dissent. Our industry is very fragile;, it is held on trust and emotional perception of the consumers. The global diamond market is going through not the easiest times, both from the point of view of demand, and from the point of view of reputation. If several doctors treat one patient by completely different methods at the same time, they will heal him to death. Only unity, the ability to perceive each other's opinions and to develop a common position will enable us to keep our market healthy and provide a long and bright future for it.

 


Working together, we managed to achieve a lot in situations which seemed difficult to be resolved. The fight against conflict diamonds entering the global market remains the main goal of our industry. Following the KP Plenary in Guangzhou, the WDC led the establishment of the Sub-group on Valuation which received a mandate of mapping current valuation methodologies used by KP Participants. Today the WDC provides technical support to the KP in the evaluation of diamond mining territories; it is directly involved in the KP monitoring process.

 


This experience was used in the evaluation of diamond mining in the Central African Republic, and we are glad we helped to make progress in this matter. The WDC, as a full member of KPMT on CAR, welcomes all the hard work done during the last months and calls upon all KP Participants and industry players to respect and implement the administrative decision to resume trade from designated ‘green zones’.

 


Profits from the export of diamonds from the green zones will help to restore the destroyed economy of CAR. Economic development will gradually improve people's lives, and also will put in order the issues of control and security, which initially raised questions to CAR. We hope it will allow CAR to achieve full compliance with the minimum requirements of the KPCS in the future. The situation in CAR only reiterates the importance of this message and the central role that KP has to play.

 


WDC also welcomes the ongoing desire of Venezuela to reinstate its full membership in the KP. At the same time we urge KP Participants to fully assess the ability of Venezuela to meet KPCS minimum requirements. The outcomes of the review mission undertaken by the KP to Venezuela in April are key to understanding the situation on the ground, and the WDC expects to hear a comprehensive report on the results of the mission.

 


We still have a lot of work ahead of us. To fully contribute to the development of the industry, we have to make qualitative changes. The WDC strives to become a professional representative of the industry in the Kimberley Process.

 


We are moving towards that goal. In April, 2016, the WDC adopted its first ever Strategic Plan that will guide the work of the organization untill 2020. The plan will enable us to enhance and improve the WDC’s role in supporting and improving the KP. These goals will require us to also work on developing robust education and research initiatives within and outside the WDC, and strengthen our external and internal communications.

 


Implementation of the WDC Strategic plan will work in two ways – promoting the KP and industry’s engagement in it to the main stakeholders and public, and building on the KP mission by supporting industry self-regulation with the aim of creating an understandable supply chain transparency going all the way to the consumer.

 


This requires a stronger voice of our industry outside the KP in promoting the KPCS to a wider group of stakeholders, including international governmental organizations, NGOs and general public.

 


By enhancing its own capabilities and resources, the WDC will continuously increase the industry’s role in the KP in its Observer status and support the development of the KPCS. The Council provides financial and technical assistance, as well as renders the services of the KP “Administrative Support Mechanism”; represents the world diamond community at the KP’s working groups, review visits and other international forums; acts as a center of communications network as far as demands of regulatory and non-mandatory control systems of diamond trading are concerned. This we will continue to do, but we also need to see the support of our work by all KP Participants. Here we expect to receive a positive assessment of the ASM work and are ready to discuss the possible updates in the activities done by the ASM.

 


We hope that the KP would play a more active role defending and supporting the favorable reputation of the international diamond trade. It is important to form a global understanding of how the KPCS works and show its ability to evolve to become an ever stronger and effective forum capable of delivering on its goals.

 


Let me thank my predecessors - Mr. Eli Izhakoff, Mr. Avi Paz and, of course, Mr. Edward Asscher as the outgoing WDC President who passed me this esthete today. What I mentioned here in my speech was done under his leadership.

 


The WDC became a stronger supporter of the KP and of the whole diamond world. I would like to use this opportunity to thank you, Edward.

 


Thank you again Mr. Chair and let me wish all of us productive and successful work here in Dubai.