PROMOTING AND FACILITATING
THE POSITIVE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC ROLE
OF NATURAL DIAMONDS
Dear colleagues and friends,
On September 6, I and WDC Vice President Ronnie VanderLinden, joined by our Executive Director Elodie Daguzan, appeared in New York before a gathering of industry leaders and government representatives, where we presented what has been called the G7 Diamond Protocol. Developed over a more than six-month period, it is the result of a collaborative effort facilitated by the WDC, involving individuals and associations from across distribution chain.
As the name suggests, the protocol is a proposed solution by which the industry will be able to meet new requirements of the G7 that only diamonds of non-Russian origin be imported and traded in their markets. Over the coming weeks, and after completing our consultations, we will formally present it to the G7 governments, hoping that they incorporate its precepts when defining their own regulations.
The WDC has historically been associated with the Kimberly Process, and its effort to eliminate conflict diamonds from the value chain. We are altogether committed to its success, but the scope of our mission is not necessarily confined by the boundaries set by the KP. Our bylaws further define our role as working to ensure that diamonds and the diamond industry “promote and facilitate positive economic and social development in the countries where they are located.”
This commitment has shaped the WDC’s strategy and policy for many years. It is what has underpinned our call to expand the Kimberley Process’ conflict diamonds definition, so that it includes goods directly associated with systemic violations of human rights not only in the context of civil war. In this respect, we are proud to be chairing the sub-group of the Ad Hoc Committee reviewing the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which is directly tasked with reevaluating the conflict diamonds definition.
This broader mandate was also reflected in the revised System of Warranties, which in addition to ensuring that all goods traded are derived from rough diamonds compliant with KP requirements, also determines that they were handled in accordance with United Nations human rights principles, universal labor conventions, and anti-corruption and anti-money laundering practices.
The restrictions being considered by the G7 countries, whose markets collectively aborb well over half of all the diamonds sold each year by value, could if applied without due care become a devastating obstacle to some of the most vulnerable participants in our industry, including artisanal and small-scale miners, cottage-industry cutting and polishing operations and SMEs trading loose and polished diamonds. The G7 Diamond Protocol, we believe, will decrease the possibility of them becoming unintended victims of the new measures.
We are fully cognizant that the G7 intends implementing a robust system that ensures the segregation of goods of non-Russian origin before they can be traded in their markets, and the G7 Diamond Protocol was designed to achieve that end in a practical manner. For the industry it will require that definite steps be taken, and an assurance system be implemented that will transparently verify that it is successful.
There were some who questioned why it was WDC that took the lead in coordinating the creation of the industry protocol. We were the logical candidate. The solution that was required had to be international, and also needed to cover the full length of the distribution chain, from the mine to retail jewelers. There is no other representative body in the diamond industry that has that reach, nor the years of experience of communicating with governments, other than the World Diamond Council.
This singular status is why we have been effective within Kimberley Process, and it is why we believe we are equipped to play a role beyond the KP as well.