Israel to Chair Kimberley Process in 2010

Israel was elected deputy chairman of the Kimberley Process for the coming year by the Sixth Plenary of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, currently being attended in New Delhi, India, by more than 70 member countries. This means that Israel will become chairman of the KP in 2010.

This development comes in the wake of the recent election of two Israeli Diamond Industry leaders—Avi Paz and Moti Ganz—as presidents of the World Federation of Diamond Boursesand International Diamond Manufacturers Association, respectively.

“These developments all serve to underscore the importance of the Israeli Diamond Industry within the global diamond industry. It shows confidence in the Israeli government and the relevant authorities vis-a-vis the Kimberley Process,” said Eli Izhakoff (pictured), World Diamond Council chairman and chief executive officer.

Izhakoff said there are still major obstacles to overcome with the Kimberley Process. Just recently two NGO’s (Partnership Africa Canada and Global Witness) accused the KP of ineffective handling of non-compliance in countries like Cote d’Ivoire and Venezuela, where the trade in conflict diamonds still thrives.

Izhakoff explains that the Kimberley Process is exactly that: a process. “The system works, but we cannot achieve miracles overnight. This is why we are convened here in New Delhi—to seek ways to improve the system and eliminate loopholes. This is also why we elect countries like Namibia and Israel to chair the process.”

Izhakoff stresses that the controls must be tightened, from the chain of warrantee within the industry to government oversight.

He cites Venezuela as an example of a country that is doing its best to be reinstated in the Kimberley Process.

“Venezuela voluntarily withdrew from the Kimberley Process due to non-compliance,” Izhakoff said. “The country just hosted a high-level KP delegation which reviewed the situation there. We hope that they will put their house in order soon so that they will be able to rejoin the process, and we have offered them technical assistance to facilitate the required changes. It is in everyone’s interest for Venezuela to be reinstated.”