PRESS RELEASES 2005

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PRESS RELEASES 20052019-04-16T14:52:09+02:00
17July 2019

WDC members stepping up to the plate, transforming lives from the grass roots up

WDC members stepping up to the plate, transforming lives from the grass roots up

We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.

Howard Zinn
Historian and Playwright

JULY 17, 2019

David Bouffard
WDC Communications Committee Chair

Dear friends,

There is a tendency during Kimberley Process (KP) gatherings, like the Intersessional Meeting held last month in Mumbai, to get caught up in the minutiae of the proceedings, losing sight during the heat of the discussions of the larger picture, and what is riding on our success.

Our stated goal is to support and strengthen the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), and in so doing prevent the flow of conflict diamonds into the legitimate market. That is a noble objective in and of itself, but it is the consequence of such actions that provides the KP with its real transformative potential. By helping neutralize the devastating effects of violence, we are enabling grass-roots development, allowing the diamond to meet its promise as a capacity builder, for all individuals and communities involved in its production.

But while the KP has the capability of helping restore peace to regions beset by war and violence, the challenges faced by artisanal and small-scale miners are still considerable, even after calm has been restored. To be able to access the rough diamond markets, they themselves need to obtain KP certification, and that is not a simple task when operating in an informal environment, with only limited resources and often scant information about the real value of the goods being mined.

It is against such backdrops that certain WDC members are making their presence felt. For them, industry activism extends beyond the meeting halls of KP Intersessionals and Plenary Meetings, without underestimating for one moment the importance of such gatherings. These members also venture out into the field, helping create bridges from the diamond fields to the marketplace. By doing so they are transforming the lives of ASM miners and their dependents, and revitalizing the economic viability and social infrastructure of entire regions.

Elsewhere as well, and sometimes closer to home, WDC members are reinvesting in the communities in which they operate and upon which they depend. This is not simply philanthropy. A business that aims to remain sustainable over the long-term relies on sustainability being maintained throughout the chain of distribution.

Early this month, the WDC produced the first ever-edition of the WDC News Update, a digital newsletter that will be distributed on a roughly two-month basis. In it, we featured one such WDC-member initiated grass-roots project, GemFair, which is currently a pilot program being operated by De Beers to assist artisanal miners in Sierra Leone. In coming issues, we will feature other projects, initiated by WDC members in mining regions and other areas where our industry operates.

The impact of […]

9July 2019

Forbes Afrique names WDC Executive Director one of Africa’s 100 most influential women

Forbes Afrique names WDC Executive Director one of Africa’s 100 most influential women

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 […]

1July 2019

WDC Newsletter


WDC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR PROMOTES ROLE
OF WOMEN IN CÔTE D’IVOIRE’S MINING SECTOR

ABOVE: Marie-Chantal Kaninda (left), Executive Director of the WDC, meeting with Jean Claude Kouassi, Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Mines and Geology, in Abidjan on May 31, 2019.

Marie-Chantal Kaninda, WDC Executive Director, was a guest of honor at a conference focusing on the role of women in the mining sector, held in Abidjan in the West African state of Côte d’Ivoire on May 31, 2019.

Organized by the Women’s Mining Sector Network of Côte d’Ivoire (FEMICI), the conference looked at the participation of woman in the country’s formal mining industries. The keynote speech was delivered by Jean Claude Kouassi, Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Mines and Geology.

After providing a broad overview of the WDC, the role it plays in the Kimberley Process, its commitment to ethical practices in all sectors of the diamond industry and its ability to promote capacity building in producing countries, Ms. Kaninda said that women should be provided the opportunity to find their place in the mining sector on merit. Equality in the work place is not only indicated by the diversity of the labor force, she noted, but also by the degree to which it is inclusive.

According to Christine Logbo Kossi, President of FEMICI, the underrepresentation of women is not only related to a lack of awareness in the sector, but also to companies not taking into account the specific requirements of female employees. “We must create favorable conditions to attract and retain women in the mining sector given the multiplicity of alternatives that exist,” she said

At the time of the conference, Côte d’Ivoire had only 1,039 women registered as employees of mining companies.

In his speech, Mr. Kouassi pledged the Côte d’Ivoire’s government’s support. “The fate of millions of women is at stake. That’s why we have chosen to increase their contribution, to promote more jobs and more rights. We have decided to implement several projects, including supporting women’s training and improving their employability,” he said.

1July 2019

WDC Newsletter


DECONSTRUCTING THE KIMBERLEY PROCESS

ABOVE: Representatives of KP-member countries applauding during the organization’s 2018 Plenary Meeting in Brussels.

Regulating the flow of rough goods into the diamond pipeline, the Kimberley Process (KP) is today one of the most powerful institutions in the international diamond sector.  But it is a conflict prevention body without any judicial or legislative authority in any of the countries with which it is associated. This is because KP rules and the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) are administered and enforced by sovereign states, operating according to statutes and regulations that have been approved at the national level, or in the case of the 28 European Union-member states by the European Council. So, from where does the KP derive its strength?

Essentially its power is derived from its members and other participants, or rather from their agreeing, as a condition of KP participation, to operate according to its rules and decisions, which can only be reached by consensus. It is also vested in a self-monitoring system, where countries are obliged to provide data about imports and exports of diamonds, and periodically subject themselves to review visits by representatives of peer countries and official KP observers, which include industry and civil society.

It is a system that can be wieldy and cumbersome, but also effective, having the ability to eliminate the presence of almost all rough diamonds financing civil war within just several years of the KPCS being launched in 2003. On occasion it has even operated outside its mandate, addressing instances of violence that did not clearly fall within the scope of the official definition of “conflict diamonds,” because all participants recognized its authority to do so.

While without voting privileges, which are reserved exclusively for sovereign states and the EU, as an official observer representing the diamond industry the WDC plays a key role in the KP. In fact, the system by which the KPCS operates was developed from a working paper written by a team of WDC experts.

Additionally, since 2013 WDC members have operated the KP’s Administrative Support Mechanism, which provides ongoing logistic and managerial assistance to the KP Chair and officers. WDC representatives are active on all committees and working groups, leading several of them, and also participate in peer review visits to KP member countries.

Kimberley Process participants during a session of the 2019 KP Intersessional Meeting in Mumbai, India.

Much of the ongoing work of the KP takes place within its working groups and committees. These include:

WORKING GROUP OF DIAMOND EXPERTS (WGDE)

Chaired by the WDC, WGDE is a technical working group, charged with providing solutions to technical challenges and problems in the implementation of the KPCS. Among the tasks it has been assigned with are proposing changes to the “Harmonized System Codes” for rough diamonds to the World Customs Organization, the harmonization of valuation methodologies, the transfer of diamond samples from exploration projects, and providing technical information to […]

1July 2019

WDC Newsletter


MESSAGE FROM THE WDC PRESIDENT

Dear friends,

Welcome to the first edition of the WDC News Update, a periodic newsletter launched by the World Diamond Council to highlight the work that we and our members do to safeguard the integrity of both the diamond and the diamond value chain.

For 19 years, the WDC has led the  diamond and jewelry industries’ efforts to end the trade in conflict diamonds, and as such has served as their official representative in the Kimberley Process (KP), which is the United Nations-endorsed coalition of government, industry and civil society that in 2003 launched the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS).

In many respects, these were developments that changed the face of the diamond and jewelry sectors, introducing the element of supply-chain integrity. The KPCS focuses solely on the rough diamond trade, but WDC’s System of Warranties (SOW), which was first developed in 2002, prior to the launch of the certification system, extends its reach through the polished diamond value chain, right up to the jewelry retailer. The WDC Board of Directors has also approved an expansion of the SOW, which now includes a commitment by professional buyers and sellers of diamonds to apply universally accepted principles of human and labor rights, anti-corruption and anti-money laundering (AML).

With the support of a skeleton staff of paid professionals, almost all the work done by the WDC, within the KP and elsewhere, is carried out voluntarily by representatives of our member organizations, who give of their time and expertise voluntarily on behalf of the industry around the world. Given the fact that we judge the success of what we do by the absence of negative news coverage, their considerable efforts often go unreported. The concept of no news is good news definitely applies here.

But we are interested in highlighting the work that is being done, as well as in expanding our membership base, so that an ever-greater number of diamond and jewelry companies and organizations become involved in WDC’s critical mission. Hence, we have a launched an outreach program, of which this newsletter is just one component.

On roughly a bimonthly basis, the newsletter will look at the work of the WDC within in the KP, and that of its members in advancing the mission of a socially responsible diamond industry. It will reflect our conviction that our role is not only defensive, but that we also can play a part in creating better lives and livelihoods for all who are associated with our industry, and especially communities in the developing economies where diamonds are mined and processed. The first edition focuses largely on the KP’s 2019 Intersessional Meeting, which took place in Mumbai, India, from June 17 to 21.

I trust that you will be enlightened by what we offer. Your comments are always appreciated.

Stephane Fischler
WDC President

July 2019

1July 2019

WDC Newsletter


KP REFORM TAKES CENTER STAGE
AT INTERSESSIONAL MEETING IN MUMBAI

ABOVE: WDC Board Member Peter Karakchiev, who chairs  the sub-committee planning the establishment of the permanent KP Secretariat, addressing a session of the Ad Hoc Committee on Review and Reform (AHCRR), during the KP Intersessional in Mumbai, India, on June 18, 2019.

Members of the 82-nation Kimberley Process (KP) traveled to Mumbai from June 17 to June 21, for the first of two gatherings to take place in India during 2019. A range of issues were up for discussion, but dominating proceedings were the review and reform of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), and in particular the expansion of its scope.

The KP is in the final few months of a three-year review and reform process, which is scheduled to end at the 2019 KP Plenary Meeting, which will be held in the Indian capital of New Delhi from November 11 to November 15. Since decisions within the KP can only be reached with the full consensus of all government members, the discussions conducted during the Intersessional Meeting and those that will take place in the remaining four and half months are of critical importance.

In the speech he delivered to the Opening Session of the Intersessional Meeting, WDC President Stephane Fischler drew a distinction between the concepts of review and reform. Review, he said, requires the improvement of the various instruments that the KP has created, so that the KPCS becomes more efficient and effective. The proposals on the agenda include a simplified and more consistent core document, a strengthened peer review mechanism, the creation a permanent KP Secretariat to replace the Administrative Support Mechanism that currently exists, and the establishment of a Multi-Donor Fund, which will assist financially-strapped nations to be fully involved in the KP and also support civil society in carrying out its duties.

WDC President Stephane Fischler addressing the Closing Session of the KP Intersessional Meeting on June 21, 2019.

 Reform, Mr. Fischler pointed out, is a more transformative process. The diamond industry, he said, believes that this must involve expanding the scope of the “conflict diamonds” definition beyond goods that finance armed rebellion. “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 WDC’s observer status in the KP does not afford it voting privileges, which are reserved exclusively for government members, along with fellow observer, the Civil Society Coalition, it formulated a proposal for an expanded “conflict diamonds” definition, which was formally tabled by the Government of Canada at the 2018 KP Plenary Meeting in Brussels last November. The expanded definition would now include stones “acquired through systemic and widespread violence, forced labor, the worst forms of child labor, or through violations of international humanitarian law.”

A separate proposal […]

1July 2019

WDC Newsletter


GEMFAIR PROJECT IN SIERRA LEONE AIMS
TO POSITIVELY ‘IMPACT’ ARTISANAL MINING COMMUNITIES

ABOVE: An artisanal miner in Sierra Leone’s Kono region weighing a diamond, using the electronic scale that is supplied as part of the GemFair toolkit. 

“Impact” is a very loaded term when it comes to discussing the effects of mining. Too often it is applied negatively, referring to elements like conflict diamonds, particularly in the developing world. But the recovery and trade of minerals, and diamonds in particular, can have an altogether different “impact.”

The vast majority of the world’s diamond production comes from large, well-established operations that have stringent labor, social and environmental policies and programs in place. The economic benefits delivered by these mines in the countries in which they operate are considerable, and in a number of producing nations absolutely essential. In fact, a recent report conducted on behalf of the Diamond Producers Association (DPA), which looked at the impact on the economies and society in the countries in which the organization’s seven member-companies operate, showed they deliver $16 billion worth of net benefits annually.

The GemFair team posing outside the De Beers buying office in Sierra Leone’s Kono region, on the day that project registered its first rough diamond purchase.

While the DPA members, who collectively represent around 75 percent of global diamond production, employ about 77,000 workers and contractors globally, between 1 million and 1.5 million individuals are involved in artisanal diamond mining, predominantly in Africa, but also in South America. Accounting for around 15 percent of all rough diamonds produced each year by volume, they only receive 5 percent of the revenue in terms of value.

The challenges faced by artisanal miners are daunting. Using only rudimentary equipment in undeveloped and often remote areas of the world, they frequently are uninformed about the real market value of the goods they have recovered, and therefore are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. This is compounded by the difficulties they experience in accessing the legitimate diamond pipeline and obtaining Kimberley Process (KP) certification.

Speaking during a Special Forum at the KP Intersessional Meeting on June 19, Feriel Zerouki, a WDC Board member and Senior Vice President of International Relations and Ethical Initiatives at De Beers Group, provided an overview of a pilot project initiated in Sierra Leone, which uses a digital solution to provide artisanal and small-scale miners with a secure route to market for ethically-sourced diamonds, while at the time helping them to receive fair market value.

Called GemFair, the project was launched in 2018 in the Kono region of the country, and immediately started to provide services to registered artisanal miners at 14 carefully demarcated sites, which have been certified as compliant with the Maendeleo Diamond Standards (MDS) by the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI).

The Maendeleo Diamond Standards are an innovative certification system that enables ethical production of diamonds by artisanal and small-scale mining operations, through the adoption […]

27June 2019

WDC Newsletter (trial)


DECONSTRUCTING THE KIMBERLEY PROCESS

ABOVE: Representatives of KP-member countries applauding during the organization’s 2018 Plenary Meeting in Brussels.

Regulating the flow of rough goods into the diamond pipeline, the Kimberley Process (KP) is today one of the most powerful institutions in the international diamond sector.  But it is a conflict prevention body without any judicial or legislative authority in any of the countries with it is associated. This is because KP rules and the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) are administered and enforced by sovereign states, operating according to statutes and regulations that have been approved at the national level, or in the case of the 28 European Union-member states by the European Council. So, from where does the KP derive its strength?

Essentially its power is derived from its members and other participants, or rather from their agreeing, as a condition of KP participation, to operate according to its rules and decisions, which can only be reached by consensus. It is also vested in a self-monitoring system, where countries are obliged to provide data about imports and exports of diamonds, and periodically subject themselves to review visits by representatives of peer countries and official KP observers, which include industry and civil society.

It is a system that can be wieldy and cumbersome, but also effective, having the ability to eliminate the presence of almost all rough diamonds financing civil war within just several years of the KPCS being launched in 2003. On occasion it has even operated outside its mandate, addressing instances of violence that did not clearly fall within the scope of the official definition of “conflict diamonds,” because all participants recognized its authority to do so.

While without voting privileges, which are reserved exclusively for sovereign states and the EU, as an official observer representing the diamond industry the WDC plays a key role in the KP. In fact, the system by which the KPCS operates was developed from a working paper written by a team of WDC experts.

Additionally, since 2013 WDC members have operated the KP’s Administrative Support Mechanism, which provides ongoing logistic and managerial assistance to the KP Chair and officers. WDC representatives are active on all committees and working groups, leading several of them, and also participate in peer review visits to KP member countries.

Kimberley Process participants during a session of the 2019 KP Intersessional Meeting in Mumbai, India.

Much of the ongoing work of the KP takes place within its working groups and committees. These include:

WORKING GROUP OF DIAMOND EXPERTS (WGDE)

Chaired by the WDC, WGDE is a technical working group, charged with providing solutions to technical challenges and problems in the implementation of the KPCS. Among the tasks it has been assigned with are proposing changes to the “Harmonized System Codes” for rough diamonds to the World Customs Organization, the harmonization of valuation methodologies the transfer of diamond samples from exploration projects, and providing technical information to other […]