WFDB urges diamond industry to adopt Kimberly Process

In a New Year’s message to members of diamond exchanges affiliated to the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB), the organization’s president, Shmuel Schnitzer, urged the diamond trade to implement all measures contained in the Interlaken Declaration, which was adopted by 52 nations and diamond industry associations in Switzerland in November, and is designed to prevent diamonds from conflict areas from infiltrating the legitimate marketplace.

The Interlaken Declaration referred to the implementation from January 1, 2003, of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which will be backed up a system of warrantees and guarantees issued by the diamond and jewelry trades.

In his New Year’s message, published in latest edition of the WFDB’s official Newsletter, Schnitzer outlined the implications of the new order.

“What this means is that members of the diamond trade should desist from buying rough diamonds that are not accompanied by a certificate from a recognized agency in the producing country, which attests to the diamonds legitimacy,” he said. “Furthermore, each time diamonds are sold down the line, we must include a declaration on the relevant invoice that the goods involved ‘have been purchased from legitimate sources not involved in funding conflict and in compliance with United Nations resolutions.

“This is not a responsibility that should be taken lightly,” Schnitzer added. “Those who intentionally mask the true origin of a diamond by a false statement are likely to have their trading privileges suspended and possibly withdrawn by their own bourse, and all others who are affiliated to the WFDB,” Schnitzer wrote.

On December 5, Schnitzer traveled to London to consult with leaders of the international diamond industry about the measures included in the Interlaken Declaration. Joining him were Sean Cohen, president of the International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA); Charles Bornstein, president of the Antwerp Diamond High Council (HRD); Eli Izhakoff, chairman and CEO of the World Diamond Council, and Gary Ralfe, managing director of De Beers. Also present were Gareth Penny, the director of sales and marketing of the Diamond Trading Company; Peter Meeus, the managing director of the HRD; Mark van Bockstael, the director of international affairs at the HRD; and Rory More O’Ferrall, De Beers’ director of public and corporate affairs.

In a statement released after the meeting, the participants called on all countries that are signatories to the Kimberley Process to implement the intergovernmental provisions of the agreed-to system. On behalf of the diamond industry, they reaffirmed their commitment to the process and its intention to introduce industry self-regulation measures in tandem with the certification scheme.

The participants at the London meeting recognized that there are practical and diplomatic hurdles that still have to be overcome by governments, before full implementation by all parties can be achieved. But, despite these difficulties, the participants at the meeting urged the various interested governments to resolve all outstanding issues, so that the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme can be implemented without delay.