Kimberley Process: We Don’t Know Who New Chair Will Be

Australia wants to withdraw its bid to become the next chair of the Kimberley Process, and it is still unclear who will take over as the certification scheme’s head in 2016, the current chair tells JCK. 

While the United Arab Emirates seems likely to take the position, Priscila Gonzaga, assistant to current KP chair Bernardo Campos (who represents the government of Angola), was more non-committal in an email this morning to JCK.

“At this point we are not certain which country will be taking over the Kimberley Process Chairmanship next year,” wrote Gonzaga. “We are working closely with [Australia and UAE] and the rules committee to try to resolve this matter as soon as possible.” 

This morning the KP chair also circulated a joint letter from Australia and UAE confirming Australia’s withdrawal if certain conditions are met.

They include:

– A review mission of UAE, slated for September.

– UAE has to commit to work with the NGOs on one project before the end of 2015 and another next year. The projects would cover transfer pricing, increased due diligence in the diamond supply chain, and expanding the definition of conflict diamonds.

– UAE acknowledges free movement and entrance to all participants. (This is likely a reference to Israel, which has no diplomatic relations with UAE.) 

The proposed arrangement raised objections from the head of the rules committee. However, in another email, Dubai Diamond Exchange chair Peter Meeus said that any deal between Australia and the UAE would be “bilateral” and “not part of written procedure.”

NGO representatives have said they will boycott any KP meetings held in Dubai, a sign of the distrust between the two sides. 

Even if an agreement is reached over who will become next year’s chair, a bigger battle could be heating up over who heads the scheme in 2018. While Australia has offered to fill the role of vice chair in 2016—which would lead it to take over as chair in 2017—new reports relay that Zimbabwe has indicated it might vie for the position the year after that.

Zimbabwe would certainly be a controversial choice, considering the KP banned imports from the Marange region for two years following reports of violence and human rights abuses. Moreover, its former mining minister was often disdainful of the KP ban and the scheme itself, labeling it a “colonialist attempt to disparage the country and control its natural resources.” 

Further reading:

The New Voice of Kimberley Reform: Dubai?


JCK News Director