WDC to continue advocating for the strengthening
of the scope of Kimberley Process
NOVEMBER 19, 2019
Despite progress made with capacity-building programs for the artisanal mining sector and KP’s approach to Central African Republic exports, the WDC will continue to advocate for the strengthening of the scope of the Kimberley Process, following the inability to achieve consensus at the KP Plenary.
ABOVE: WDC President Stephane Fischler addressing the Closing Session of the 2019 Kimberley Process Plenary Meeting in New Delhi, India, on November 22.
The World Diamond Council (WDC) reiterated its commitment to continuing to advocate for change after government representatives failed to reach consensus on a strengthened scope for the Kimberley Process (KP) during the 2019 KP Plenary in the Indian capital.
“While the KPCS continues to fulfil an important function, the failure of the political process to achieve consensus was a missed opportunity to enhance the effectiveness of this foundation stone of integrity in the diamond business. The KPCS has been an absolutely critical element in maintaining peace in producing countries through increased traceability of rough diamond trade, and we must redouble our efforts to strengthen its impact,” said WDC President Stephane Fischler. “About 95 percent of the rough diamonds produced by value are mined by a handful of large industrialized mining companies, almost all of which have implemented compliance systems that go beyond the scope of the KPCS. These all require observance of the WDC’s System of Warranties (SoW), which was expanded in 2018.”
As recognized in the KP core document, the SoW is designed to facilitate full traceability of diamond transactions by government authorities. This is achieved by requiring all B2B sellers of rough diamonds, polished diamonds and jewelry containing diamonds to include a statement on the invoice or memo document that the goods being sold are in compliance with the KPCS. Importantly, the updated SoW, which also was endorsed by this session of the KP, moves significantly beyond the KPCS, by including a commitment by companies to adhere to WDC Guidelines, which expressly reference international conventions relating to human and labor rights, anti-corruption and anti-money laundering (AML).
“While we advocated hard to strengthen the scope of the KP, we simultaneously strengthened the SoW, which is a powerful tool that is already applied by industry, to ensure consumer confidence both within the KP and independently,” said Mr. Fischler.
During the meeting in New Delhi, following a proposal by the US delegation, the KP Plenary agreed to restructure the operational framework system created for the Central African Republic, while maintaining the current strict monitoring of exports.
“We support the objectives of this change in policy,” said Mr. Fischler, “which is to encourage an increase in legal exports from CAR, as well as improve the efficiency of the system. As this process will shift some of the burden of verifying the provenance of the goods to the importers in the trading centers, we will soon be […]
WDC President urges governments to act on the important KP reforms to support the future of the Process
WDC President urges governments to act on
the important KP reforms to support the future of the Process
NOVEMBER 19, 2019
ABOVE: WDC President Stephane Fischler addressing the Opening Session of the 2019 Kimberley Process Plenary Meeting in New Delhi, India, on November 18.
Speaking directly to government representatives at the start of the 2019 Kimberley Process (KP) Plenary Meeting in New Delhi, India, on November 18, Stephane Fischler, President of the World Diamond Council (WDC), has stated that, with the KP’s three-year reform and review cycle about to end, the governments alone hold the future of the Kimberley Process’ much anticipated reform agenda in their hands.
“I strongly believe that the future relevance of this remarkable enterprise, the Kimberley Process, will be determined by the decisions taken by you, member countries, and possibly those that will not be taken during this week in New Delhi,” he stated. “Lives and livelihoods of individuals who rely on the work that we do together will be impacted by both your actions and inaction.”
“The WDC has been candid in what we would like to see happen, and it is that the conflict diamonds definition should incorporate all of the most severe instances of violence, whether they be carried out by rebel forces, private or state-run security forces, or criminal elements,” Mr. Fischler said. However, he noted, the WDC understands that the KP, although tripartite, particularly through its consensus decision-making system, requires a political process.
Industry took its own steps in 2018 when the WDC Board of Directors approved a new System of Warranties, a compliance system that goes beyond the scope of the KPCS. It includes the implementation of universally accepted principles on human and labour rights, AML and anticorruption.
“It is in the collective interest of all participants in the KP that all KP certified rough diamonds meet the standards and expectations of the market.” Mr. Fischler continued to underline that, “within our area of influence we have a duty to care, and to consider long-term solutions that will protect our most vulnerable stakeholders. This is what we need to do together in New Delhi.” DOWNLOAD THE WDC PRESIDENT’S ADDRESS TO THE OPENING OF THE KP PLENARY
WDC to champion the need for positive change at Plenary Meeting in New Delhi, which will be a watershed moment in the Kimberley Process
WDC to champion the need for positive change at Plenary Meeting in New Delhi,
which will be a watershed moment in the Kimberley Process
NOVEMBER 7, 2019
These are whirlwind days for those involved in the buildup to the Kimberley Process (KP) Plenary Meeting in New Delhi, India, which will open on November 18 and conclude November 22. With a range of critical issues as yet unsettled, participants are sharing and promoting last-minute positions, during bilateral meetings in different parts of the world and at a number of strategically scheduled conferences, attended by many of the key players. Those included the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi, Russia, toward the end of October, and the Diamond Conference in Gaborone, Botswana, where I currently am located.
The final minutes are on the clock for the KP’s three-year review and reform cycle, which began in 2016 and will end at the Plenary Meeting under the chairmanship of India. Some tough discussions will still be had, as difficult decisions need to be made – none more so than whether the scope of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme will be strengthened.
At the heart of the debate is the definition of what constitutes a “conflict diamond.” Currently, it is unchanged from that which existed when the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) was launched at the start of 2003. This means that only diamonds whose proceeds are fueling civil war against legitimate governments are targeted. Recognizing the outdated definition, the World Diamond Council (WDC), along with civil society and a number of government representatives, are insisting that it be amended to include instances of unacceptable violence in the supply chain during peacetime as well.
A number of proposals are on the table, among them one that was formulated by the WDC together with the Civil Society Coalition and tabled by the Government of Canada. Others have been proposed by Botswana and the Russian Federation. As, I write, it is not yet clear which, if any of them, will be approved in New Delhi.
The tripartite coalition of the KP has been a remarkably successful scheme, bringing under its umbrella industry, human rights activists and governments, from both the developing and developed world. It has succeeded in enforcing tough policies largely because each and every one of them required a buy-in from all voting members, after every party was permitted to state its case. But will it be able to rise to the occasion once again, or will it be hamstrung by the KP members’ short-term political self-interest?
To paraphrase George Orwell, while all KP participants are equal, some are more equal than others. The WDC, as the industry representative, like civil society, is an observer in the process. While we are active on all committees and sub-committees, when the time comes to vote, only government members have the right to do so.
They alone will bear responsibility for what happens in New Delhi.
But that does not mean that […]
Diamonds hold promise for a better future for Africa, WDC President tells Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi
Diamonds hold promise for a better future for Africa,
WDC President tells Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi
OCTOBER 24, 2019
ABOVE: WDC President Stephane Fischler (second from right) addressing the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi on October 23, 2019, during the session on “Russian-African Collaboration in the Diamond Industry.”
Diamond-producing countries on the African continent received about $8.1 billion, or 9.5 percent of the $85.9 billion worth of revenues generated by diamond jewelry in 2018, and some still may consider that an insufficient share, said World Diamond Council (WDC) President Stephane Fischler, speaking at the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi, Russia, on October 23, 2019. But what is indisputable, he stressed, is the economic potential of the diamond resource, whose value increases by about a factor of five as it travels from the mine to the countertop of the retail jeweler.
Mr. Fischler was a featured participant in a session at the summit organized in cooperation with ALROSA, entitled “Russian-African Collaboration in the Diamond Industry.” Moderated by Iris Van der Veken, Executive Director of the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), speakers included a number of industry leaders as well as several government ministers, including Yury Trutnev, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation; Diamantino Pedro Azevedo, Minister of Mineral Resources and Petroleum of the Republic of Angola; Tom Alweendo, Minister of Mines and Energy of the Republic of Namibia; Dmitry Kobylkin, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation; Winston Chitando, Minister of Mines and Mining Development of the Republic of Zimbabwe; and Alexei Moiseev, Deputy Finance Minister of the Russian Federation. Among the diamond industry participants were Sergey Ivanov, CEO of ALROSA, and Jean-Marc Lieberherr, CEO of the Diamond Producers Association.
“Diamond deposits hold the promise of a better future for all African producing countries, and more specifically for the communities living in the areas where they are located. To realize this promise, those mining the product need to receive fair value for their labor and capital investment, and an appropriate proportion of the revenues generated must be used to create sustainable economic and social opportunities at the grass-roots level,” Mr. Fischler said.
But, added the WDC President, for the long-term developmental potential of the product to be realized, the diamond must continue to be an aspirational purchase for consumers. “Because they can live without diamonds, they will only buy them if they want to,” Mr. Fischler said, noting that there are 10 million Africans whose income depends on continuing demand for diamond jewelry in consuming countries. “Reputation, therefore, is a key element, and defending that reputation is of paramount importance. If the integrity of the diamond is undermined, so is the economic potential of the product.”
Looking ahead to the 2019 Kimberley Process Plenary Meeting, which will be taking place in New Delhi, India, November 18-22, Mr. Fischler stressed the importance of progress being made in strengthening the scope of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), as part the three-year review and […]
THE KHARYSKHAL REHABILITATION CENTER:
REBUILDING SHATTERED LIVES IN MIRNY
This article is the third in an ongoing series, which shines a light on grass-roots capacity-building and sustainability programs initiated by WDC members to support communities where diamonds are mined, processed and traded.
“Our children” is what members of staff call their charges at the Kharyskhal Rehabilitation Center in Mirny. Its mission is to restore a semblance of normalcy for young people whose lives have been shattered by domestic abuse, alcoholic parents and deprivation, a problem common to any urban area in the world.
The center was established in the diamond-mining town in 1997. Those were hard time for the Russian Federation, when the dramatic change that swept across the country left many in economic distress. Not all were able to cope, and it was their children who often paid the steepest price.
“In the Yakut language ‘Kharyskhal’ is the word for a protective amulet, and that is what we do,” explains Muza Romanova, the center’s director. “We avert problems. We teach families how to meet challenges that at first seem insurmountable, and we instill self-confidence in the children. We use the latest solutions, combining preventative, correctional and rehabilitative care.”
The newly constructed Kharyskhal Rehabilitation Center in the diamond-mining city of Mirny, a purpose-built building that was constructed with the support of ALROSA and the government of Yakutia. It opened its doors in September 2018.
With nothing available and an urgent need for the type services that it could provide, the new center was initially set up in a makeshift building and operated there for the next 21 years. “We got used but it was in a constant state of disrepair,” remembers Romanova.
But then circumstance intervened. Mirny was visited by Yegor Borisov, Yakutia’s then governor. Driving around the town and talking to people in the street, he pulled up in front of the old Kharyskhal structure.
“I decided that he needed to see our living and working conditions and went outside to meet him,” Romanova recalls. “The temperature was 40-degree below zero, and I was wearing nothing over my dress. He was uncomfortable talking to me in the cold, so he came in and saw everything. After that, we were told that Kharyskhal would get a new home.”
Enter ALROSA, Mirny’s most important business enterprise. In coordination with the Yakutian government, the diamond company helped build and outfit a $3 million building dedicated to Kharyskhal’s mission. Constructed over an 18-month period, the new center opened its doors in September 2018.
Now able to accommodate more children than before, the two-story building is warm, airy and naturally lit by enormous windows. With flowers everywhere, its walls are decorated with enormous floor-to-ceiling hand-drawn pictures of Yakutian scenes, and posters designed to stimulate child development. A large kitchen and canteen provide daily meals.
Kharyskhal offers a sanctuary to children from the across the Mirnу district. Their individual stories are often heartbreaking. Frequently […]