U.S. Election Results Won’t Affect Kimberley Process, Chair Says

The results of the U.S. election are not likely to affect the Kimberley Process, the certification scheme’s current chair, ambassador Gillian Milovanovic, said in an Oct. 25 State Department–sponsored webchat.

“I don’t know whether [Mitt Romney] or Barack Obama or their wives are [supporters of diamonds],” she said. “I believe this is an absolutely nonpartisan issue. I cannot imagine there would be any difference between one party and one candidate one way or another.”

Milovanovic touted her support for a change in the current definition of conflict diamonds, noting that while consumers may not currently be demanding their diamonds be free of violence, the industry and producing countries need to think ahead.

“When you’re in business, you don’t look at what is going on today, you look at the trends,” she said. “It’s far easier to…take advanced steps, than it is to wait until a survey says 50 percent of the people who come into my store demand to know that this is a diamond I can feel comfortable purchasing. At that point, you have to do a public relations and advertising campaign that rolls back the negative image.”

She had no predictions as to whether a new definition will be adopted, saying “we will see” at the upcoming Kimberley Process Plenary, to be held in Washington, D.C., in November.

In response to a query from JCK about whether the Kimberley Process would take action if the current violence in South Africa metals mines spread to diamond concessions, Milovanovic called that question “hypothetical.”

However, she added, “a great deal will always have to do with actions the concerned country is taking. When you have a nation which has an existing legal system which is already engaged on a particular conflict, such as the one in South Africa, I believe that would be strongly taken into account.”

She also termed the recent Diamond Source Protocol, advanced by U.S diamond and jewelry organizations, a “positive” development.

“I think it’s an understandable step,” she said. “I do not think it undermines the Kimberley Process. It is supportive of and parallel to the Kimberley Process.”

On other topics:

  • Milovanovic said she thinks the spirit of congeniality has returned to the Kimberley Process. “I’m told by colleagues that they feel the atmosphere has improved,” she said.
  • She expressed hope about the prospects that the Kimberley Process will soon have an administrative support mechanism—a longtime goal of reformers.
  • On whether the Kimberley Process will ever branch out into polished: “Frankly I don’t see any movement toward including polished gems. There is plenty to do with the Kimberley Process on rough.”