Johannesburg — Ten years after its launch, the Kimberley Process (KP) must implement urgent and substantial reforms if it hopes to remain relevant and play any real role in building a cleaner and more transparent global diamond trade in future, said a group of African and international civil society organisations.
With the KP Intersessional summit in Kimberley from June 4-7th, the organisations called for major changes to the structure of the conflict diamond mechanism and to the very definition of ‘conflict diamonds’ to ensure that the KP remains relevant given all the rapid changes in Africa - and the new realities of the continent’s diamond trade.
“The Kimberley Process has played an important role over the past decade in resolving conflicts linked to the diamond trade but there is no doubt that it has to be reformed - or fade into insignificance,” said Dr Claude Kabemba, Director of the Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW).
“Now that most diamond-linked conflicts have ended, the KP will only remain relevant if it is given the mandate to monitor the entire diamond industry chain - from mining the rough stones to polishing the final jewels - and to look at diamonds that are fostering human rights abuses as well as armed conflict,” added Dr Kabemba.
This expanded mandate was one of the key recommendations from a global civil society conference in Johannesburg on Saturday, which was co-hosted by SARW, the International Crisis Group (ICG) and Partnership Africa Canada (PAC).
The conference discussed the history of the KP and whether it still had a role to play given that the brutal diamond-linked conflicts in Africa that precipitated its establishment in 2003 have ended - and considering the myriad other changes in Africa and the global diamond industry.
The consensus of the meeting was that the KP still has an important role to play in fostering a cleaner trade and promoting socio-economic development in diamond mining areas and communities but only if some of the following recommendations are implemented:
Expand the definition of conflict to include human rights abuses linked to diamond extraction perpetrated by governments and corporations;
Expand monitoring downstream so that the progress covers not just the rough diamond trade but the international movement and polishing of diamonds;
Expand the process to specifically cover artisanal miners since they produce the majority of gold in Africa;
Strengthen the KP’s tripartite structure by giving civil society and industry more of a voice and more influence within the process;
Establish more effective KP structures within each member country involving government, civil society and industry so that the monitoring process is continuous; and,
Ensure that peer review mission reports on KP countries are published openly.