Latest Kimberley Meeting Upbeat

There was considerable progress made on the conflict diamond issue at the latest meeting of the Kimberley Process in Moscow in July, after things appeared stalled in Brussels earlier that month.

The Kimberley Process, named for the South African city where the talks began, is an ongoing series of talks among governments, industry, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) aimed at stopping the trade in conflict diamonds. Its mandate includes designing a worldwide rough diamond certification system.

“The NGOs felt there was considerable progress at Moscow,” said Ian Smillie of NGO Partnership Africa Canada, who also works on sanction monitoring for the United Nations. “There was agreement at long last that a certification system is needed.”

Still, thorny issues remain, particularly the question of whether international inspectors will monitor the system—a move that some countries oppose.

As in Brussels, the meeting’s harmony eroded over a seemingly small matter—the post-meeting communiqué. There was an extended discussion about how to characterize what happened there; in the end, the communiqué described it as “significant progress.” A similar thing happened in Brussels, where there was a half-hour discussion about whether attendees reached a “broad” or “emerging” consensus.

“The worrisome thing about the wrangling over the communiqu is that we are only debating words about a proposed agreement, not an agreement, yet every time the word agreement arises, at least three or four delegations start heading for the door,” Smillie says. “How we are going to get to the hard stuff I don’t know.”