Kimberley Process Plenary Approves Administrative Support, Delays Decision on Definition

The Kimberley Process’ recent Plenary in Washington, D.C., ended with a flurry of activity—with the certification scheme approving its first-ever administrative support mechanism, a long-sought goal of reformers.

The group, however, punted on another much-debated change: amending the organization’s current definition of conflict diamonds to include diamonds produced under violent conditions.

“We were not able to reach the point where we saw agreement on a text,” said current KP chair Gillian Milovanovic at a post-Plenary press conference.

Prior to the Plenary, Milovanovic had indicated that such a change would not pass. However, she pronounced herself pleased that discussion on the topic had advanced.

“It is really positive that we are moving down that path,” she said. “We moved an organization whose members were not prepared to discuss [the definition change]. They will now be prepared to discuss it.”

The big change that was approved—the administrative support mechanism—will mean the certification scheme will have professional staff for the first time. The ASM will be run by the World Diamond Council, in cooperation with India’s Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council, the Israel Diamond Institute, Antwerp World Diamond Centre, and the government of Ghana.

The group also announced that mines in the Marange region of Zimbabwe, which were readmitted to the certification scheme last year after a two-year suspension, will no longer be subject to regular monitoring visits in recognition of the area’s compliance with KP standards.

Alan Martin, research director of Partnership Africa Canada, said the certification scheme had notched some “small victories.” But he added the Civil Society Coalition was disappointed about a number of aspects, including the lack of progress towards a change in definition.

He also said the KP needed to address other issues related to the industry, in particular “revenue transparency.”

“It’s about the KP being able to keep up with new challenges,” he said.

But Milovanovic seemed to reject that, noting that the KP “cannot be all things to all people.”

“The KP is not an organization,” she said. “It’s a process. Its capabilities are very limited and its mandates are very specific.… But that doesn’t mean it’s not doing a decent job, and that it’s not on the path to do better.”

World Diamond Council president Eli Izhakoff said the meeting was “very calm, very relaxed,” and praised the work of the chair toward making the Plenary one of the most productive in memory.

“I’m very positive about the future of the KP,” he added. 

South Africa will take as next year’s chair, as expected, with China serving as vice chair.

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