Conflict Diamond Definition Likely Won’t Change This Year, KP Chair Says

The official Kimberley Process definition of conflict diamond isn’t likely to change at next week’s Plenary in Washington D.C., the certification scheme’s chair, Gillian Milovanovic, tells JCK.

Milovanovic, the World Diamond Council, and the NGOs have all endorsed a new definition of conflict diamonds that will include diamonds produced under violent conditions. But the KP chair admits that getting that approved this year is a long shot. Approval requires an absolute consensus among all participating countries.

“We are not aiming for that,” Milovanovic says. “We hope to see some progress on the definition, as this can be carried forward under [next year’s] South African chairmanship.”

“The fact that there is a proposal on the table that can be looked at and refined is important movement in the attitude of the Kimberley Process,” she adds. “What we are looking for is—if not an overt, then a clear recognition that change is needed. I think if we get a recognition that change is inevitable that is already an achievement.”

She does hope the Plenary will approve one longtime goal of reformers: an administrative support mechanism.

“There are three proposals,” she says. “Our hope is that someone will be selected so that South Africa will have support from an ASM, and any future discussions will focus on how adequately the ASM works rather than on hypothetical concerns.”

She also expects the Plenary to look at a recent document that tackles development in the artisanal mining sector, as well as “technical questions” regarding customs definitions and how the KP functions.

At last week’s Zimbabwe Diamond Conference, Milovanovic and the U.S. government were criticized for the current American sanctions against diamonds from Marange.

But Milovanovic says her post has nothing to do with whether her country does or doesn’t have sanctions.

“Sanctions are a separate issue from the Kimberley Process,” she says. “I do hope that the issue of Zimbabwe sanctions does not become an issue [at Plenary].”

As Milovanovic wraps up her time as chair, she hopes she has increased communication within the group.

“We think we have done a lot as far as the website,” she says. “I hope my legacy will be increased dialogue, increased openness.”

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