PRESS RELEASES 2005

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PRESS RELEASES 20052019-04-16T14:52:09+02:00
5October 2021

A call to action: Adopt the upgraded System of Warranties today

A CALL TO ACTION:
ADOPT THE UPGRADED
SYSTEM OF WARRANTIES TODAY

OCTOBER 5, 2021

Edward Asscher
WDC President

Since the start of the Kimberley Process, members of the diamond trade have been adding a declaration to their sales documents, each time a transaction is finalized along the entire supply chain, from mine to retail. It’s become a customary act in our industry, but a massively important one, for it verifies to the next participant in the supply chain that the diamonds involved are compliant with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), and thus can be considered “conflict free” according to KP doctrine.

This is the WDC’s System of Warranties (SoW), an industry-applied mechanism that links rough and polished diamonds to the KP certificate with which they originally were associated, each time the stones change hands. Participants are also required to store copies of SoW declarations made and received, so that a verifiable trail, a “chain of warranties,” is created as diamonds move through the pipeline.

The SoW was born out of the will of the WDC to strengthen and expand the KPCS and create the industry’s first self-regulation mechanism.

On September 21, 2021, the UN-recognized International Day of Peace, the WDC launched its upgraded System of Warranties, and in so doing raised the bar considerably in respect to the ethical and social integrity of the diamonds being sold. It includes a revised declaration to be added to the sales document, which not only states that the diamonds are compliant with the KPCS, but that they also meet the standards of the WDC System of Warranties Guidelines, which require that they have been handled in accordance with universally accepted human and labor rights, and according to global anti-corruption and anti-money laundering principles.

But that is not all. For the first time the upgraded SoW prescribes a specific process that needs to be followed so that the revised declaration can be applied. This includes registering on a dedicated SoW website (www.wdcsow.org), and once a year successfully completing an online self-assessment to ascertain that you are in compliance with the KPCS and the WDC System of Warranties Guidelines. The self-assessment is supported by a dedicated Toolkit and is customized according to the size of your organization, be you an SME or large corporation, your business activities and whether you are already compliant with one of our industry’s third-party verified compliance systems, like the Responsible Jewellery Council’s Code of Practices and De Beers’ Best Practice Principles Assurance Program.

Earlier this year when I addressed the Intersessional Meeting of the Kimberley Process, I urged its Participants to meet the expectations of both consumers and those living in the mining communities, by expanding the scope of the KP Core Document to include the protection of universal human rights, social rights and environmental sustainability. But I also declared that our industry would not wait idly by, before acting on its own. With the launch of the upgraded […]

21September 2021

WDC marks UN’s International Day of Peace with public launch of upgraded and expanded System of Warranties


WDC marks UN’s International Day of Peace
with public launch of upgraded and expanded
System of Warranties

SEPTEMBER 21, 2021

The revised declaration to be added to invoices and memos by sellers of rough diamonds, polished diamonds and jewelry set with diamonds, in accordance with the upgraded WDC System of Warranties. It confirms adherence to the WDC SoW Guidelines, which support universally accepted principles of human and labor rights, anti-corruption and anti-money laundering (AML). The declaration appears against the background of the poster created in honor of United Nations 2021 International Day of Peace.

The World Diamond Council (WDC) has marked the 40th anniversary of the establishment by the United Nations of the International Day of Peace with the official public launch of its upgraded System of Warranties (SoW).

“For the International Day of Peace 2021, the United Nations set the theme for ‘recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world,’ and called on us all to mark the occasion with acts of compassion, kindness, and hope,” said WDC President Edward Asscher. “We thus felt it an appropriate occasion to launch the upgraded System of Warranties. It reflects our vision for a diamond industry that is not only free of conflict, but through its actions also promotes safe and secure working environments, equal opportunity and proper governance.”

Expanded Scope

Like the original SoW introduced 18 years ago, the upgraded SoW requires that all sellers of rough diamonds, polished diamonds and jewelry containing diamonds include a declaration on B2B invoices and other transaction documents, such as consignment memos, stating that the goods being sold comply with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), and thus meet the Kimberley Process’ standard of being conflict free.

What’s different to the original is that the revised warranty statement additionally includes a commitment that the sellers adhere to the updated WDC SoW Guidelines, which expressly support universally accepted principles of human and labor rights, anti-corruption and anti-money laundering (AML).

Specifically, the WDC SoW Guidelines reference the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the UN Convention Against Corruption, and national AML guidelines that comply with the FATF’s 40 Recommendations on Money Laundering for Dealers in Precious Metals and Stones.

Annual Self-Assessment

A critical new element of the upgraded SoW is that all users will be required to register on a dedicated website, and once a year successfully complete an online self-assessment, to gauge their compliance with the WDC SoW Guidelines.

The self-assessment questionnaire is the primary component among a suite of due diligence tools that is provided on the dedicated WDC System of Warranties website, which was launched today at: https://www.wdcsow.org.

The self-assessment questionnaire is individualized according to the size of the company or organization being tested, by the specific range of business activities in which it is involved, and whether it is already […]

2September 2021

Recognizing the strength of the KP but also its limitations, and consequently industry’s obligations

RECOGNIZING THE STRENGTH OF THE KIMBERLEY PROCESS
BUT ALSO ITS LIMITATIONS, AND CONSEQUENTLY INDUSTRY’S OBLIGATIONS

SEPTEMBER 2, 2021

Edward Asscher
WDC President

In an article published in the August edition of Rapaport Magazine and posted on August 25, 2021, on the publication’s website, entitled “Atrocities Haunt Zimbabwe’s Diamond Fields,” Farai Maguwu, a courageous civil society leader in Zimbabwe, who is the founding director of that country’s Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG), writes of the plight of artisanal miners in the Marange diamond fields.

This is a downtrodden community that Mr. Maguwu has long defended, and the World Diamond Council (WDC) respects, appreciates and pays tribute to the selfless efforts he has invested on their behalf, often at great risk to himself. When, in 2010, during the time of the previous Robert Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe, he was arrested for his activities and held under difficult conditions, WDC lobbied and advocated hard for his release.

I have no intention of disputing the details that Mr. Maguwu lists in his article. He is intimately aware of the facts on the ground and has eyewitness testimony from artisanal miners living and working in the Marange region. His account alleges human rights violations and instances of bribery and extortion on the part of both state and private security officials at the site.

What I would like to address is the role, or lack thereof, of the Kimberley Process in addressing the situation in Zimbabwe. In providing a subhead to Mr. Maguwu’s article, the Rapaport editors wrote that the KP “continues to greenwash [Zimbabwe’s] conflict diamonds.” I understand their sentiment, but I think they inadvertently are assigning the KP powers that it currently does not have.

For there lies the problem. According to the Kimberley Process’s Core Document, conflict diamonds are defined as rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments. Objectively, there are today no rebel movements using diamonds to finance a civil war in Zimbabwe, and therefore, by definition, no conflict diamonds being are produced in the country.

Over its almost 19 years of operation, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) has been remarkably successful in fulfilling its mission, eliminating almost entirely the trade in rough diamond being used to finance civil war. But it is limited in its scope, and unless that is expanded, it cannot be expected to be a panacea to other challenges afflicting artisanal miners, including human and labor rights violations, bribery and corruption.

WDC’s long-held position is that it is critical that the KPCS be able to continue to fulfil its lifesaving function, and at the same have the scope of its mission broadened so that it can address the type of challenges that Mr. Maguwu describes. This should be done by the expanding the “conflict diamond” definition in the KP Core Document, so that it id provided the authority to address instances of systemic violence related to rough diamonds, which nonetheless are not associated with civil […]

25June 2021

With continuing resistance to reforming of Kimberley Process, WDC President warns of marketplace with two diamond value chains


With continuing resistance to reforming of Kimberley Process, WDC President warns of market with two diamond value chains

JUNE 25, 2021

In the not-too-distant future, there will be a difference between rough diamonds that can be guaranteed to have fulfilled the consumers’ demands and expectations, and other diamonds,” said Edward Asscher, President of the World Diamond Council (WDC), speaking today during the closing session of the 2021 Intersessional Meeting of the Kimberley Process (KP). “Responsibly sourced diamonds will be more in demand. They will obtain better prices in the marketplace, and buyers at jewelry stores will demand proof that they are indeed responsibly sourced before purchasing them as polished.”

In a powerful address, the WDC President questioned the readiness of certain KP Participants to meet the expectations of today’s jewelry consumers, who increasingly demand that diamonds can be verifiably shown to have been responsibly sourced, and to have been handled in accordance with essential principles of human rights, environmental protection and social justice.

WDC President Edward Asscher during the Closing Session of the Kimberley Process’s virtual 2021 Intersessional Meeting, on June 25, 2021.

“It might well be that the considerations of consumers are far beyond the field of perception of producing countries, polishing centers and governments. But what happens if producers do not listen to the market? They become obsolete,” Edward Asscher said.

“The Kimberley Process has the ability to create a level playing field,” The WDC President stated. “If it meets these consumer expectations, then all natural diamonds from all participating countries will be represented. But there is clearly resistance, and I believe it is because some of us see the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme as an enabler of trade, whilst others see it as a restrictor of trade.”

In his address, the WDC President explained the consequences of a market with two different value chains. “Some producing countries will face less demand for their goods. Can you imagine having a wonderful, beautiful diamond, but it is difficult to sell because prospective buyers will not have been assured that the stone has done good on its way from the mine to the market?” he asked.

“Small and medium-sized enterprises will experience difficulties selling natural diamonds, because they do not belong to the elite group of polishers that can guarantee that the diamonds they source and polish are responsibly sourced. That will create an unlevel playing field in the polishing centers, and threaten the livelihoods of thousands who own, are employed or service SMEs,” Edward Asscher said.

The WDC President stressed that there remains limited time to change course. “I trust that this truth will sink in before the [Kimberley Process] Plenary later this year,” he said. “There are only two choices: (1) we genuinely work together to reform the KP, addressing consumer expectations, or (2) we leave many of our friends here at the […]

21June 2021

With consumers demanding greater accountability and sustainability, the Kimberley Process must not be left behind, WDC President declares


With consumers demanding greater accountability and sustainability, the Kimberley Process must not be left behind, WDC President declares

JUNE 21, 2021

ABOVE: WDC President Edward Asscher addressing the Opening Session of the Kimberley Process’s virtual 2021 Intersessional Meeting, on June 21, 2021.

Consumers today want to know about a diamond’s provenance. They want to be assured that the diamonds they are considering buying have made a positive impact on the world,” said Edward Asscher, President of the World Diamond Council (WDC), speaking today during the opening of the 2021 Intersessional Meeting of the Kimberley Process (KP), which is being conducted virtually for the first time in the organization’s 21-year history.

“The prevailing subjects that are today on the agenda of the international community, as well as that of the diamond industry, are: human rights, environmental protection and social justice. They are certainly being discussed and advanced outside of the Kimberley Process. And we must not be left behind,” the WDC President stated.

The Kimberley Process Intersessional Meeting, which is being held this week, is one of two regularly scheduled meetings conducted by the KP in any calendar year, with the other being the KP Plenary. It is being chaired by the Government of the Russian Federation, which holds the post of KP Chair this year. The WDC, which together with civil society has Observer status in the KP, represents the industry in the tripartite forum charged with eliminating the trade in conflict diamonds.

Noting that consumer desire is the only value driver for diamonds, Edward Asscher stressed that not meeting consumer expectations presents a very real risk for the industry, as well for countries who rely on diamonds for their economic wellbeing and stability. “If the KP is left behind, it runs the risk of becoming irrelevant, and so may the category of natural diamonds. Let us not forget that consumers have alternatives. Meeting their trust and ensuring their confidence needs must be at the top of our agenda,” he stated.

In his address, Edward Asscher referred to the imminent introduction of the WDC’s new System of Warranties, which he said will “help all participants in our business sector with best practices, compliance and due diligence when purchasing diamonds. We are sending a strong signal that we are ready to reform, and that we do not want to be left behind.”

The WDC President concluded his address by reiterating the spirit of the KP and of the community that the KP unites, and of its members’ aim to protect the integrity of natural diamonds.

“This must be done within the KP – in this very forum – and not elsewhere,” he said. “We must be able to stand behind our promises and our mandate to protect the rights of those who are connected to the diamond industry, whether they reside in producing countries, polishing countries or in the jewelry markets. […]

17June 2021

WDC Newsletter


TAKING STOCK, BEFORE THE 2021 KP INTERSESSIONAL

Dear colleagues and friends,

With the 2021 Intersessional Meeting of the Kimberley Process (KP) to be held on a digital platform next week, after a year during which neither of the two regularly scheduled KP meetings took place, it’s an opportune time to review the various subjects on which the WDC has been working, and to consider what we are preparing for this very first virtual meeting of the KP.

But first, we need to express our solidarity with the so many countries where COVID-19 remains a danger to much of their populations. This is especially so in India, which is now suffering a number of infections that is higher than any other country in the world, creating a situation of immense concern. And this is not simply because nine out of ten diamonds are polished there. More so, we worry about the health and wellbeing of our colleagues, their staffs and their families, and all Indians.

In our industry we cannot stand idly by. The WDC, the International Diamond Manufacturers Association and the World Federation of Diamond Bourses have all contributed to the buying of much needed medications and other supplies for our colleagues in India. We pray for an end to the crisis.

At WDC, we have also been working hard on the introduction of the new System of Warranties. This is not strictly a KP matter, but it is an important step for the entire industry. We are planning to launch the new SoW after the summer break, when many of us return from our holidays.

As we always do, but especially ahead of the Intersessional, we are looking at the most important issues concerning the responsible sourcing of rough diamonds. As always, the political, military and public security situations in some countries are fluid and dynamic. We are monitoring closely what is happening in the Central African Republic, especially now that the KP’s new Operational Framework hardly seems to be working efficiently.

We are closely watching the situation in other countries as well. One of the problems is that when the KP Civil Society Coalition and other NGOs flag human rights issues, they frequently are difficult to tackle within the framework of the KP. This is because they do not always relate to goods that fall strictly under the current definition of conflict diamonds, and thus not all governments are inclined allow such discussions.

At the Intersessional, the WDC is especially looking forward to the sessions focusing on what has been defined as the Seven Principles for Responsible Diamond Sourcing. To recap, they include complying with internationally accepted standards relating to (1) human rights, (2) labor rights, (3) environmental practices, (4) anti-corruption and (5) anti-money laundering, and (6) building capacity by supporting the development of communities in the mining and production areas and (7) through clear disclosure properly distinguishing between natural and synthetic diamonds. For efficiency, they are being called “Frame 7” in short, and […]