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 […]
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. […]
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 […]
KP CHAIR ALEXEY MOISEEV OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION
PREVIEWS THE UPCOMING KP INTERSESSIONAL MEETING
From June 21 to June 25, 2021, members of Kimberley Process will come together in a virtual environment for the 2021 KP Intersessional Meeting. One of the two regular KP gatherings conducted in any given calendar year, with the other being the Plenary Meeting that usually takes place in November, it was not held in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hosting the Intersessional will be the Russian Federation, which originally was scheduled to assume the function of the KP Chair in 2020, but had its term pushed into 2021, again because of the extraordinary circumstances created by the coronavirus.
Ahead of the 2021 Intersessional Meeting, the WDC News Update spoke with the KP Chair, Alexey Moiseev, who also serves as Russia’s Deputy Minister of Finance. He previewed the upcoming gathering, provided an overview of key subjects on the KP’s agenda, and considered the impact of COVID-19 on the diamond industry and the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.
WDC NEWS UPDATE: With the onset of the COVID pandemic, the KP suspended many of its regular activities, delaying them to the start of the new year. How did the KP operate during 2020, and how have things changed in 2021?
KP CHAIR: As you are well aware, the KP took a consensus decision to postpone the chairmanship of the Russian Federation to 2021 due to the COVID-19 crisis. In 2020, Chairs of the KP Working Bodies coordinated the work of the Kimberley Process within their respective competences, to ensure the implementation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), to the extent strictly necessary to ensure the continuity of the international rough diamond trade and to support the industry that faced an unprecedented downturn of business activity and closure of many consumer markets.
In line with the KP Rules and Procedures and due to the absence of the 2020 Plenary Meeting, the KP family adopted no policy-setting documents, nor it did issue a traditional Final Communique. At the same time, we managed to secure the continuity of the KP implementation in general and the support to the Process on the level of the United Nations General Assembly, which issued a respective resolution in March 2021, noting and welcoming the efforts of KP Participants to overcome the difficult times in the diamond industry in the wake of the pandemic.
The extraordinary restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic forced many Participants to establish unprecedented measures to implement internal export and import controls and to issue the KP Certificates. In many ways, the widespread use of online platforms and digital ways of communication upheld the work of the KP in 2020-2021.
Now, as KP Chair, we have finalized all the procedures necessary to arrange the first ever virtual Intersessional Meeting due to the ongoing travel restrictions.
WDC NEWS UPDATE: For the first time in its history, the KP Intersessional meeting will be virtual. How […]
THE RISK INHERENT IN BLURRING THE DISTINCTION
BETWEEN ‘KIMBERLEY PROCESS’ AND
‘KIMBERLEY PROCESS CERTIFICATION SCHEME’
By Mark Van Bockstael
Chair, KP Working Group of Diamond Experts
Chairman, WDC Technical Committee
A question one frequently stumbles over when discussing the international forum and system created to eliminate the trade in conflict diamonds is whether to use the term “Kimberley Process” or the term “Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.”
To many, the two seem to be interchangeable, with both frequently and often confusingly being encountered within the same texts, as if they are synonyms. A visit to the website of the Kimberley Process doesn’t clarify much, although it does state correctly that the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) came about as a result of the Kimberley Process (KP) negotiations that started in May 2000 in Kimberley, South Africa. From there on it becomes a little bit more confusing.
What started off as the “Technical Forum on Diamonds” in Kimberley, South Africa, 21 years ago, became known as the Kimberley Process, when the results of five meetings involving representatives of the diamond industry, civil society and interested governments were presented by South African delegates to the United Nations General Assembly. The UNGA then mandated the founding group to bring in other members and continue the discussions about delivering a system that would end the trade in rough diamonds fuelling civil conflict.
The original Technical Forum on Diamonds became the “enlarged Kimberley Process.” In November 2002, the negotiations within the now bigger group concluded with the Interlaken Declaration. That resulted in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which was launched on January 1, 2003.
A parliament and the statute it legislates
So, what is the difference – if there indeed is any –between the KP and the KPCS?
All scheduled annual events, including the Intersessional meetings that are typically held between May and June and the Plenary meetings in November or December, are described as KP meetings. But few would strictly qualify as such. Most are in fact KPCS meetings, where the implementation of the certification scheme is discussed.
A KP meeting essentially involves a political discourse about the KPCS Core Document whose primary role is to outline the regulations that need to be translated into national legislation in all KP-member countries. In this forum, representatives of governments, civil society and industry are all equally entitled to voice their opinion about the wording and interpretation of the document.
But while the political discourse within the KP is egalitarian, the process of translating that discussion into decisions that affect the implementation of the KPCS is restricted. This is because the KPCS Core Document designates governments as Participants, who have decision-making authority, while it grants Observer status to the diamond industry and civil society, respectively represented by the World Diamond Council and the KP Civil Society Coalition.
There is a common-sense logic to this approach. Since the KPCS can only be enforced at the country […]
“Women of the Diamond Industry” focuses on the issue of gender equality along the entire diamond and jewelry supply chain. The series provides a platform for women in the industry to tell their own stories and describe the particular challenges they have faced in their careers.
The sixth article in the series is authored by Elodie Daguzan, Executive Director of the World Diamond Council.
THE PASSION OF A LIFETIME
Elodie Daguzan, Executive Director of the World Diamond Council.
If you ask my parents how I came to love gemstones, my mom will tell you that around the age of three I would roam the beach collecting small and colorful seashells and pebbles, and then save them like treasure. At age 12, my dad gave me a large amethyst that he said he had picked off the ground while walking in the mountains of Morocco. As it so happens, just a year ago I discovered that he actually had bought it on Jemaa el-Fnaa Square in Marrakech, but the original story had been inspirational enough to convince me to collect minerals. I still do, a whole variety of them, although today my heart belongs mainly to the diamond.
How did I end up in the industry? Already at age of 15 I told my parents that my future career would be in diamonds. At the time I dreamed of becoming a diamond buyer for a luxury brand. It would, I believed, offer me the rare opportunity of working daily with a wonder of nature.
Now bear in mind that I was raised in Paris, which in the mid-1990s was not considered a diamond trading hub. The city had once been home to one the world’s earliest diamond bourses, but it was no longer operating. On the other hand, Paris was the nerve center for many of most prominent high-end jewelry brands, and where they go so do diamonds.
My dad, who understood that I had already made up my mind, remained the responsible parent. He sat me down and asked whether I realized that this will not be an easy way forward. You will be a woman in a man’s world, he said.
Armed with the strong support of both my parents and an internal drive that I later identified as a “calling,” which was not greatly different from that experienced by doctors and religious people, I plotted a path that I believed would provide me both with the knowledge and experience I would require.
I was lucky to get my first job at the largest diamond trading company in Paris, Rubel & Ménasché. There I learned to sort polished diamonds. With 95 percent of its staff being women, gender equality was never really a topic.
After three years I decided it was time to move on with my masterplan – getting an education and then becoming an assistant buyer at a […]
LIVING BY MAHATMA GANDHI’S MAXIM:
IF YOU DO NOTHING, THERE WILL BE NO RESULTS
On March 25, 2020, as the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hit India, a full lockdown was declared over much of the country. Sheltering with his family at their home in Mumbai, Rajiv Mehta, a Director of Dimexon Diamonds, understood the significance of the event.
Writing a month later as a guest blogger on the WDC website, he recounted an observation he had made to his wife and three young children on the second day of the lockdown. “Guys, we are living through what will be considered a historic moment in modern history and when the next generation look back, they will try to understand how we survived this period,” he said.
He was not only referring only their personal survival, but also to all those with whom they are connected, and in particular the company’s large workforce and the communities that surround its factories.
Dimexon’s factory complex in Coimbatore, in the southern Indian State of Tamil Nadu. The city is not known as a diamond production center, but was favored by the founders because of their family connection to the region.
In Coimbatore, the southern Indian city in which Dimexon’s founding family is rooted, and where the firm still operates much of its production base, the industrial kitchen serving its local diamond manufacturing unit began providing daily cooked and fresh food to more than 30,000 people immediately after the lockdown was imposed. It was an initiative applauded by local government authorities.
There were other pressing problems. In the entire country, with its population of 1.36 billion people, there were at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic only 40,000 medical ventilators. Experts said at the time that this was less than 1 percent of what may be required.
“The call was clear,” Mehta wrote in his WDC blog. “If we could join in the initiative that other enterprises across the country were also pursuing, and put together our resources and intellect in building a low-cost yet efficient ventilator, we needed to give it a shot. After all, we had nothing to lose. It reminded me of the father of our nation, Gandhi, when he said ‘You may never know what results come of your actions, but if you do nothing, there will be no results.’”
On April 2, just a week after the first lockdown was imposed, Mehta brought together a team of engineers from the company in Coimbatore, and tasked them with coming up with a working model of a medical ventilator.
Ten days later he was shown two working prototypes built by the team. These were shared with other experts, working as part of the larger national effort.
Dimexon’s founder Pankaj Mehta (center), flanked by his sons Rajiv (left) and Vishal, who today […]