KP Chair Asks NGOs to Reconsider Boycott

So far, the civil society coalition is unmoved

The chair of the Kimberley Process has a message for the organization’s NGOs: Please come back.

Last November, the certification scheme’s civil society coalition (CSC)—composed of 11 international groups—said it would boycott all KP meetings in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in protest of the UAE’s “lenient practices” regarding diamond imports.

In an attempt to have the groups attend the organization’s annual plenary in November, KP chair Ahmed Bin Sulayem (pictured) sent the CSC a list of the progress made by the scheme under the UAE chairmanship, as well as an in-depth response to issues and concerns the CSC had raised. Bin Sulayem heads the certification scheme for 2016 on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.

So far, though, the CSC appears unmoved.

“The boycott of plenary remains in place,” says Alan Martin, research director for Partnership Africa Canada and spokesperson for the CSC. “The coalition is studying the proposal and will reply to the UAE at a later date.”

The new, more conciliatory tone is the latest about-face from the chair. Following failed mediation efforts between the UAE and the CSC, Bin Sulayem attacked Martin in unusually personal terms in a speech at the KP Intercessional in June.

“Mr. Martin’s actions were expected, following years of inflammatory remarks in the press and elsewhere against the UAE,” he said. “His tireless focus on our nation makes one question if he works with an ulterior motive in mind. Or perhaps, someone else’s.

“Our door remains open to any civil society and industry organization alike…to work together on improving the future for the diamond sector,” he added. “But we will question those who individually abuse the KP process for personal gain, create hostility, or deliberately bring the KP family to a gridlock.”

But now, Bin Sulayem hopes to entice the groups to attend the November meeting with a proposal to install a permanent KP secretariat under the auspices of the United Nations.

“As KP chair, it is our sincere wish to be able to collaboratively bring all the work which has been done over the last nine months to a good end [and] demonstrate to the world that the Kimberley Process has re-found an active tripartite which looks at solving the issues at stake proactively and jointly,” Bin Sulayem said in a statement.

(Photo courtesy of the KP chair)

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