General Assembly Reaffirms Strong Support for Kimberley Process Certification Scheme Aimed at Ensuring Diamonds ‘Conflict Free’

11 December 2009
GA/10903

General Assembly Reaffirms Strong Support for Kimberley Process Certification Scheme Aimed at Ensuring Diamonds ‘Conflict Free’

11 December 2009
General Assembly
GA/10903
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fourth General Assembly

Plenary

63rd Meeting (AM)

General Assembly Reaffirms Strong Support for Kimberley Process Certification

Scheme Aimed at Ensuring Diamonds ‘Conflict Free’

 

Text Recognizes ‘Devastating’ Impact of Conflicts Fuelled by Illicit Trade,

Says Scheme Can Help Ensure Effective Implementation of Security Council Sanctions

Recognizing the devastating impact of conflicts fuelledby the illicit diamond trade and the gross human rights violations that have been perpetrated in such conflicts, the General Assembly today adopted a consensus resolution reaffirming its strong support for the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which imposes strict requirements on rough diamond shipments to certify them as “conflict free”.

Adoption of the six-page text was prolonged by lengthy debate after the Syrian delegate objected to wording in operative paragraph 23 of the text which notes that Israel has been selected 2010 Chair of the Kimberley Process, a 49‑member (75 countries) initiative to stem the flow of diamonds used by rebels to finance wars against Governments.  He requested deletion of the words “ Israel as Chair”, saying that the rest of the sentence should remain unchanged.

The Assembly suspended its debate for consultations after delegates of Sweden, Israel, Jamaica, United States, Peru and Canada challenged the idea, and asked for clarity on what, then, the Assembly would be voting either for or against.

After the recess -– and consultations with the Legal Office -- General Assembly President Ali Abdussalam Treki, of Libya, clarified that Syria had requested a separate vote on part of paragraph 23 of the text, pursuant to Rule 89 of the Rules of Procedure, which was a sovereign right of any Member State.

Pursuant to that request, the Assembly would hold a separate vote on the words in question, he explained.  Under that vote, “yes” meant that the words would stay in the draft.  “No” meant that the words would be deleted and the General Assembly then would take action on the draft resolution as a whole.

The Assembly then decided, in a recorded vote of 90 in favour to 6 opposed (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Libya, Somalia) with 18 abstentions, to maintain the wording of operative paragraph 23 in the resolution (Annex).  Immediately following that action, it adopted by consensus the entire resolution, which had been introduced by the Deputy Minister of Mines and Energy of Namibia, and Chair of the Kimberley Process.

By the text -– entitled “The role of diamonds in fuelling conflict:  breaking the link between the illicit transaction of rough diamonds and armed conflict as a contribution to prevention and settlement of conflicts” -- the Assembly recognized that the Certification Scheme could help ensure effective implementation of Security Council resolutions containing sanctions on trade in conflict diamonds, and act as a mechanism for the prevention of future conflicts.  It called for the full implementation of existing Council measures targeting the illicit trade in rough diamonds, particularly conflict diamonds that play a role in fuelling conflict.

Among other provisions, the Assembly welcomed the adoption of new guidelines pertaining to implementation and enforcement to enhance the capacity of the Kimberley Process in guiding national authorities to address enforcement issues, such as fraudulent certificates, shipments of suspicious origin and exchange of information in cases of infringement.

It also noted, with appreciation, the Kimberley Process’s cooperation with the United Nations on the issue of diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire, based on reports by the United Nations Group of Experts on Côte d’Ivoire, established by the Council in resolution 1584 (2005).  It encouraged continued cooperation, with a view to meeting preconditions for lifting sanctions on the trade of rough diamonds from that country.  Acknowledging the Processes’ adoption of a plan to strengthen the internal controls of Guinea, the Assembly also welcomed Liberia’s commitment to host a meeting to foster regional cooperation in rough diamond controls.

Several delegations took the floor after adoption to explain their positions and air concerns about omissions to the text.

Israel’s delegate thanked all delegations that had warmly welcomed his country’s initiation, in January, as Chair of the Kimberley Process.  He regretted efforts to use such important issues to promote a politicized agenda, rather than any real worry over blood diamonds, the real issue at stake.  “The world is so lucky to have a real Kimberley Process, where real concerns are met,” he said. Israel, as incoming Chair, was prepared to assume greater responsibility in the effective implementation of the Process.

Also explaining his position, Sweden’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the European Union, regretted that the election of the new Chair and Vice Chair of the Kimberley Process had not been welcomed in accordance with customary practice.  The trend to politicize the issue might undermine the work of fuelling development rather than conflict.  As for the resolution, he regretted that no reference had been made to Zimbabwe’s challenge in implementing the process.  There was an action plan to address the concerns of the review mission, which had found significant non-compliance in Zimbabwe with the Scheme’s minimum requirements. 

Similarly, Switzerland’s delegate was disappointed at the thrust of the resolution and feared that omitting a reference to Zimbabwe would damage the image of the Kimberley Process, making its future work difficult.  Also, the role of the private sector and civil society had not been reflected adequately.  Although her Government had joined consensus, it had done so with the uneasy feeling that the Assembly had not lived up to its responsibilities. 

The United States representative expressed serious concerns about Zimbabwe’s non-compliance with the minimum requirements of the Kimberly Process, particularly related to smuggling and grave violence in and around the Marange diamond fields.  The United States also looked to Zimbabwe’s neighbours, international trading centres, and the diamond industry to redouble their efforts against illicit diamonds from the Marange region.

The representative of Zimbabwe, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, commented on what he called a “charade” by countries deeming themselves to be guarantors of the Process, who had referred to Zimbabwe’s supposed non-compliance with the mechanism.   Zimbabwe was a victim.  Diamonds were being smuggled out of the country, finding their way into markets in Israel, Canada, Antwerp, and the United States.  Thus, when talking of compliance, let it be discussed from a global perspective and not simply as Zimbabwe’s problem.

Syria’s delegate, explaining his position after action, said the goal of the resolution was to prevent illicit transactions in rough diamonds, as well as the illicit exploitation of wealth through transnational activities.  He had spoken out against appointing Israel as Chair, because such a choice would promote misunderstanding of the noble objectives contained in the resolution’s title.  He was surprised that the Assembly would adopt a text that contradicted a report of another important United Nations body, namely, the Group of Experts dealing with the illicit diamond trade in Côte d’Ivoire.

Also today, the Assembly decided to extend the work of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) to 18 December.  In view of that decision, it would postpone the Assembly’s date of recess from 15 December to 22 December.  Further, it decided to postpone until Wednesday, 16 December, consideration of two other draft resolutions, one on Assistance to the Palestinian people, and the other on the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which it was slated to take up today.

Also speaking before action were the representatives of Botswana, Canada and Israel.

The Observer of the European Community also spoke.

Also speaking in explanation of position after action were the representatives of Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and Venezuela.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 16 December, to consider draft resolutions on Assistance to the Palestinian people, and on the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

Background

The General Assembly met today to discuss the role of diamonds in fuelling conflict.  For its discussion, it had before it an 8 December letter (document A/64/559) from the representative of Namibia to the Secretary-General, transmitting the 2009 Kimberley Process report on behalf of the Chair of the Kimberley Process.  A Communiqué of the Kimberley Process 5 November plenary session in Swakopmund, Namibia is also attached to the report.

The report asserts that, since the inception of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) in 2000, there had been a dramatic improvement in the security situation in several diamond-producing countries to which the Process contributed significantly.  The KPCS continues to provide a multifaceted approach to monitor challenges posed by the Ivorian “conflict diamonds” under the Brussels Initiative and the Moscow Resolution.  In accordance with the terms of Security Council resolution 1842 (2008), the KPCS has maintained close cooperation and exchanged information with the United Nations Group of Experts on Côte d’Ivoire. The KPCS Working Group on Monitoring continued to use satellite monitoring technology to monitor illicit rough diamonds production. 

The Process is open to all countries and regional economic integration organizations that are willing and able to meet the minimum requirements of the KPCS, the report says.  As of 5 November, it had 49 members, including the European Community as a single participant representing its 27 member States.  Applications were recently submitted by Kenya and Swaziland, while Egypt and Mozambique had indicated an interest in joining. 

Among the 2009 achievements, the report highlights the joint workplan agreed upon by the Working Group on Monitoring and Zimbabwe as one of the year’s successful outcomes.  The joint workplan was aimed at addressing concerns relating to diamond smuggling, illicit trade activities and human rights violations in the Marange diamond fields in Zimbabwe.  The report also touches on a joint communiqué issued by the Presidents of Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana on 30 October to declare their intention to cooperate in curbing the illegal trade in diamonds. 

Among other things, the report describes efforts in the system of peer review visits, one of the core objectives of the Working Group on Monitoring.  A review mission to Zimbabwe revealed indications of non-compliance with the KPCS in a number of areas, pertaining primarily to the situation at Marange.  The recommendations of the mission led to the adoption of a joint workplan to address shortcomings.

Further, the Working Group on Monitoring continues to monitor the implementation of the 2007 Brussels Initiative on Côte d’Ivoire and the 2005 Moscow Resolution, the report says, and maintains close cooperation with the United Nations, as well as a technical dialogue with Ivorian authorities.  A new Kimberley Process rough diamond statistics system was launched as a means of containing the flow of conflict diamonds into the legitimate market and as a regular source of information on KPCS implementation.  Statistical analysis for Côte d’Ivoire was not required, since official trade/production was not authorized.  Thirty-one of the 48 participants have responded to the questions or observations raised in their annual statistical analyses.

As for technical assistance, the report says the European Community continues to provide technical advisers to Liberia to help that country comply with recommendations made by the Kimberley Process review teams after their visits there in 2008 and 2009.  Ghana has also received technical assistance from the European Community with respect to characterization of diamonds, registration of illegal miners, registration of traders and establishment of trading procedures. South Africa provided assistance to a prospective KPCS participant with regard to its becoming a participant and smoothing its implementation of the minimum requirements.  Also, the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) is developing practical standards and guidelines for companies working in artisanal diamond mining areas.  The Initiative aims to address the poverty and insecurity issues associated with artisanal diamond mining.

As for future challenges, the report says that Kimberley Process participants had, at times, been confronted with the appearance of fraudulent Kimberley Process certificates.  The Kimberley Process Chair and Working Group on Monitoring had served as coordination points between participants and provided support for exchange of information and identification of fraudulent certificates. Increases in Internet sales and postal shipments were also of concern, as it was difficult to track and reconcile rough diamond shipments via those avenues.  Kimberley Process certificates were, thus, not being received by customs through those transactions.

By a resolution on the role of diamonds in fuelling conflict:  breaking the link between the illicit transaction of rough diamonds and armed conflict as a contribution to prevention and settlement of conflicts (document A/64/L.26), the Assembly would reaffirm its strong and continuing support for the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and the Kimberly Process as a whole.  States would recognize that the Certification Scheme could help ensure effective implementation of Security Council resolutions containing sanctions on trade in conflict diamonds, and that the Scheme could act as a mechanism for the prevention of future conflicts.  It would call for the full implementation of existing Council measures targeting the illicit trade in rough diamonds, particularly conflict diamonds that play a role in fuelling conflict.

The text would have the Assembly welcome the admission of new participants to the Kimberley Process, as it recognizes the contributions it has made to settlement of conflicts and the consolidation of peace in Angola, Liberia and Sierra Leone.  It would note efforts to strengthen import confirmation requirements and examine the compliance of cross-border Internet sales under the Certification Scheme.

Among other provisions, the text would have the Assembly welcome the adoption of new guidelines pertaining to implementation and enforcement that would enhance the capacity of the Kimberley Process in guiding national authorities to address enforcement issues, such as fraudulent certificates, shipments of suspicious origin and exchange of information in cases of infringement.

By further terms, it would have the Assembly note, with appreciation, the cooperation of the Kimberley Process with the United Nations on the issue of diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire based on reports by the United Nations Group of Experts on Côte d’Ivoire, originally established by the Council in resolution 1584 (2005), and through liaison with the country.  It would encourage continued cooperation between the Process and the United Nations in addressing the issue, with the objective of meeting the preconditions for lifting sanctions on the trade of rough diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire.

Moreover, the text would acknowledge the adoption of a plan by the plenary of the Kimberley Process to strengthen the internal controls of Guinea and to assess that country’s production capacity.  It would welcome the commitment of Liberia to host a regional meeting to foster regional cooperation in rough diamond controls.

Other terms of the text would have the Assembly note, with satisfaction, the development of a rough diamond statistics website.  States would be encouraged to enhance the quality of data and respond promptly to the process by which the data would be analyzed.  It would also note, with satisfaction, the “footprint” work conducted by the Kimberley Process Working Group of Diamond Experts with respect to Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Togo and the Marange diamond fields of Zimbabwe.

The draft would have the Assembly call on all Kimberley Process participants to implement internal controls in diamond trading and manufacturing as part of their own internal controls for ensuring adequate Government oversight over the trade in rough diamonds.  It would stress that the widest possible participation in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was essential, and would encourage all States to seek membership and comply with its undertakings.  The increased involvement of civil society was to be welcomed, particularly those from producer countries.

Finally, the draft would have the Assembly acknowledge with great appreciation Namibia’s contribution, as Chair of the Process for 2009, to efforts to curb trade in conflict diamonds and take note that the Process had selected Israel as Chair and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as Vice Chair of the Process for 2010.

Introduction of Draft Resolution

BERNARD ESAU, Deputy Minister of Mines and Energy of Namibia, and Chair of the Kimberley Process, presented a report on progress made in 2009 in implementing the Process.  He said that diamonds, like other natural resources, had fuelled or prolonged conflicts in various parts of the world.  Proceeds from illicit diamond mining and trading were being used to procure arms and ammunition.  Misuse of a country’s mineral endowment, while devastating for its citizens, also negatively affected the international diamond trade and economies of countries far from the theatre of conflict.  The Kimberley Process was conceived as a partnership of leading stakeholders, bringing together Governments, non-governmental organizations and the diamond industry to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the legal international trade.  The Process helped contribute to the prevention and resolution of conflicts by helping to break the links between arms and trading in illegal diamonds.

He said it had been Namibia’s honour to lead the Process in 2009, particularly in helping further the promulgation of national laws to prohibit the import and export of rough diamonds unless certified as conflict-free.  It had also led the implementation of appropriate national controls over diamond production and trade.  Diamond mining was a large contributor to the gross domestic product of many nations, bringing export earnings and Government revenues.  In Namibia alone, diamonds accounted for more than 40 per cent of export earnings, 10 per cent of gross domestic product and 7 per cent of Government revenues.  Last year, Namibia produced $600 million worth of diamonds, making it a catalyst for socio-economic development, poverty alleviation and the provision of essential social services such as health care and education.  It, therefore, attached great importance to the Kimberley Process, believing that the associated Certification Scheme not only set benchmarks in the regulatory process and in the management of the diamond trade, but also guaranteed transparency in the marketing process and provided a platform of cooperation among participants.

He said Namibia had a robust and comprehensive regulatory regime to protect the integrity of its diamond industry, and a number of Government agencies –- including the Diamond Inspectorate and the Protected Resource Unit of the police -- were specifically charged with preventing diamond-smuggling and other illegal activities.

He said 2009 had seen an improvement in the security situation in many countries; the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was believed to have contributed to that improvement.  A project to establish “footprints” for diamonds was created through the Scheme, allowing for quick identification of anomalies in trade statistics.  Under it, a new database on rough diamond statistics was launched, and made available on a participants-only website.  Special attention was being given to artisanal alluvial diamond mining.  A joint workplan was designed to help countries comply with Kimberley Process standards.

At the end of 2008, he said the Process had 49 members, and there was a great interest from a large number of others to join.  Kenya and Swaziland had already applied, and Egypt and Mozambique had expressed interest.  Peer review visits were an important tool to improve effectiveness.  During 2009, visits were paid to the diamond producing and trading countries of the European Union, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Turkey, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Angola.  The World Bank provided technical assistance to participants, as did the Artisanal and Small-scale Mining network.  In the face of daunting challenges, the continued effort of Governments, working groups, industry, the World Diamond Council and civil society were ever necessary to maintain the system’s strength.

The draft resolution before the Assembly, titled “The role of diamonds in fuelling conflict:  breaking the link between the illicit transaction of rough diamonds and armed conflict as a contribution to prevention and settlement of conflicts,” was traditionally adopted by consensus, he said.  It acknowledged the progress made by stakeholders and stressed the widest possible participation in the Certification Scheme.  It underscored the willingness of the Process to provide technical assistance to those that needed it.  His Government looked forward to the support of all delegations for the draft.

TAPIWA MONGWA ( Botswana) expressed satisfaction with the significant work accomplished by the Kimberly Process saying it was heartening to note that most Kimberly Process partners complied with its requirements, which had resulted in, among other things, timely submission of reports by all members and enhanced implementation of the Kimberly Process requirements.  The impact of those actions had translated into a significant reduction of markets for conflict diamonds and in cutting off a major source of funding for rebel groups and militias involved in conflict.

She recalled that it was not so long ago when there were a number of such conflicts, particularly in Africa.  “Diamonds fuelled civil wars with terrible and devastating consequences,” she said.  Not only was the safety of citizens in those affected countries put at risk, but peace, security and the stability of the government were compromised.  Despite that notable progress, however, she was concerned by reports of non-compliance to the Kimberly Process provisions by some participants and other emerging challenges, and emphasized that while most of the world’s diamond production was from legitimate sources, even the smallest percentage of illicit diamond production should not be ignored, as such production and its illegal use could contribute to civil strife and instability.

It was, thus, imperative that the international community continue to maintain vigilance against the illicit diamond trade, and for countries to continue to exercise much greater scrutiny of their own internal control systems, including much stronger checks on all diamond related activities to ensure legal diamond production, she said.  Clearly, the highest possible level of participation and cooperation among governments, civil society and the private sector was essential for effective implementation, monitoring and compliance of the Kimberly Process, and, in that respect, she commended those that had expressed an interest in joining the Process and encouraged others to consider joining the Process.  She was confident that through joint efforts such as the Kimberly Process, the international community would continue to ensure that, more than ever before, diamonds became a major source of financing for economic development, in many more countries.  For Botswana, there was a direct correlation between diamond revenues and safe drinking water, better living conditions, and better health care -– in sum, a better quality of life for all its people.

HENRI-PAUL NORMANDIN ( Canada) said 2009 was “a very difficult year” for the Kimberly Process, during which much credibility had been lost in the public eye.  He expressed concern over the situation in Zimbabwe, which was found to be non-compliant with the minimum standards of the Process by a Review Mission that visited that country in June and July this year.  He said there were credible reports that elements within the Zimbabwean Government were trying to work around the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme and urged Zimbabwe to fully implement the workplan immediately and in good faith.  He also called on all Kimberly Process Participants to similarly implement monitoring measures to contain the illicit trade in Marange diamonds.

Further, Canada was troubled that civil society observers monitoring the implementation of the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme continued to face harassment in many countries, and reiterated that the Process drew its strength from its multi-stakeholder nature.  All parties should be allowed to participate freely in Process-related activities.

On notable successes recorded during the year, he pointed to Liberia’s offer to host a meeting to foster regional cooperation in areas such as information sharing, illicit networks, and improvement of internal controls.  Canada was also encouraged by the mandate given to the Kimberly Process by the United Nations Group of Experts on Côte d’Ivoire to undertake improvements to the diamond footprint of that country.  The ongoing development of Kimberly Process rules and procedures would assist in enhancing the effectiveness of the Scheme.

He further expressed satisfaction with the progress made regarding the adoption of important Kimberly Process Administrative Decisions this year, including on cooperation on implementation and enforcement, and on information with the United Nations.  The latter would help the United Nations Security Council improve the effective monitoring of its resolutions, a welcome development, he added.

Concluding, he said that as the 10th anniversary of the historic meeting held in Kimberly, South Africa approached, the process was at a cross-road.   While it had contributed to stemming the trade in conflict diamonds, now, more than ever, participants must demonstrate the necessary political will to apply the rules if it was to be effective.  He reaffirmed Canada’s full support to the Process, noting that the Kimberly Process enhanced the accountability, transparency and effective governance of the trade in rough diamonds.  However, it must adapt to new challenges if it was to remain a relevant instrument.

DANIEL CARMON ( Israel) voiced his country’s firm support for the Kimberley Process, especially in a world where conflict diamonds could fuel war, violence and civil strife.  Since 2009, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme had helped minimize the effect of the so-called “blood diamonds” and had marginalized those engaged in its commerce.  As Israel prepared to assume the Chairmanship of the Process, it paid due recognition to the progress made so far.  It welcomed the Communiqué of 5 November from Namibia, and was pleased to see the monitoring system being expanded.  It was also pleased by the plenary’s position on particular instances of non-compliance.  But, despite such positive measures, certain challenges remained:  Israel was concerned by the situation in Zimbabwe, given that a review had found credible indication of significant non-compliance of the Certification Scheme.  It took note of Zimbabwe’s commitment to implement a joint workplan, and hoped that that country would address instances of non-compliance.  As regards Venezuela, he expressed hope that, after having voluntarily separated from the Scheme for two years, it would implement the Scheme’s minimum standards and eventually reintegrate into the Certification Scheme. 

He said that Israel was prepared to assume greater responsibility as incoming Chair, so as to continue to contribute towards a more comprehensive and effective implementation.  His country was one of the largest trading centres for diamonds, with a strict system to ensure compliance.  As noted by the head of the Certification Scheme, who had visited the country in 2008, Israel’s spot checks and overall organization was worthy of emulation in other countries.  He reiterated his country’s commitment to the system, as well as to the system of United Nations sanctions pertaining to conflict diamonds.  He would rather that there be collective action to appreciate the beauty of diamonds, rather than to further their role in conflict.

PETER SCHWAIGER, Observer of the European Community, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Union noted with satisfaction that the tools that made the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme so unique had been strengthened in the last year.  The Peer Review system had ensured continued monitoring of the Scheme’s implementation, with review visits organized to countries like Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone and Liberia.  The Union, as the world’s main trading centre, received a review visit in February and, as Chair of the Monitoring Working Group, encouraged participants’ continued commitment to such visits.

The most vivid illustration of the Process’s capacity to develop innovative solutions to complex crises was seen in the plenary decision and action plan to address Zimbabwe’s non-compliance in the Marange mining area, he said.  The Union looked forward to Zimbabwe’s commitment to take “ambitious” actions to bring diamond mining in that area into compliance with Kimberley Process minimum requirements and to subject its exports to independent Kimberley Process verification, pending full compliance.  He further called on Kimberley Process participants to improve regional cooperation and implement “international vigilance measures” to stem the flow of illicit diamonds from Marange.

The monitoring of diamond production in Côte d’Ivoire also showed the positive role the Process could play, he said, as did its decision to increase oversight of Guinea’s diamond production and trade, and continued engagement with Ghana and Liberia.  At the end of the day, the Certification Scheme’s credibility depended on implementation by participants and he welcomed the adoption of a decision on cooperation in the Processes’ enforcement as a step forward.  In 2009, the global community showed its determination to act collectively in response to challenges to the Kimberley Process.  He thanked Namibia for its stewardship in 2009 and warmly welcomed Israel as the incoming Chair.

As the Assembly prepared to take action on the text, the President ALI ABDUSSALAM TREKI (Libya) announced that a recorded vote had been requested on operative paragraph 23, regarding the phrase “takes note that the Process has selected Israel as Chair and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as Vice-Chair of the Process for 2010”.  He requested that the Assembly move to a vote.

When the representatives of Sweden, Israel and Jamaica asked for more clarity on what was being voted on, Mr. TREKI said those who voted in favour were voting to retain the phrase, those who voted against were voting to remove it.

At the request of the representative of the United States, the Secretary of the Assembly, clarified once more what the Assembly would be voting for and against, saying that those in favour of having the language stay as it is should vote yes.  Those voting against would have those words be deleted from operative paragraph 23.

Israel’s delegate said that support for his country’s proposed Chairmanship had been reiterated over and over again in the Assembly.  He questioned why that phrase should be voted on.  In response, the Secretary explained that, as a draft resolution, it could still be modified or amended before action was taken on it, in accordance with Rule 89 of the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure.

The representative of Peru asked for clarity on whether the vote was for the deletion of a paragraph or for an amendment to be made to the paragraph.  In response, the Chair said he believed the basis of the vote was clear, and moved that the Assembly take action immediately. 

Israel’s representative noted that Rule 89 stated that a vote would be held on proposed changes to the text.  He asked why something that was already in a draft resolution, which was crafted through a process that would welcome consensus, should be voted on, especially when the vote was not proposing an actual change to the text?  That question was repeated twice, at the request of the Secretary.

The Secretary said that the request for a vote was an indication in itself that there was no consensus on the text.  Depending on the outcome of the vote, it was possible that the paragraph would undergo a change.

The representative of Canada, in a point of order, asked if there was no agreement on the proposed paragraph, should not an amendment be proposed?  The Assembly could then vote on that amendment.  Was that not the normal procedure?

Then General Assembly President then asked the Syrian delegate whether he would like to propose an amendment to the text or delete the paragraph.

Syria’s delegate said his delegation had asked for a recorded vote on one section of paragraph 23, due to its opposition to the wording regarding the choice of Israel as President of the Process.

The delegate of Namibia said he was trying to understand the proceedings. The text reflected the historic fact that a meeting had selected Israel and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as Chair and Vice Chair.  “We are not legislating”, he said, merely stating what had happened.  He and 49 other countries had been part of that decision.  There was now an objection to an historic fact.  Was an alternative being put forward?  He was unsure of whether his delegation was being asked to delete the text, or if there would be an alternative, as the Assembly normally voted for one language or another.  Namibia depended largely on diamonds. He needed clarification.

The General Assembly President said if the majority of the Assembly were in favour, the paragraph would stay.  If the majority wished to remove the part, then the Assembly would decide what to do later.

Israel’s delegate thanked the Namibian delegate for what he had said, and agreed with him.  If there were a vote, it should be on something other than what was in the draft.  He asked for clarification or to have legal advice on the matter.  Israel was uneasy about taking a vote on something that was already in the draft.

The Secretary said rule 89 was mentioned and he again read that rule.

The General Assembly President then called for proceeding with the vote.

The United States’ representative said he was confused about the procedure. Questions raised by Canada, Namibia, Israel and others were very appropriate.  The Assembly still had not heard about the amendment it would vote on and he, thus, requested a legal opinion on the matter.

The General Assembly President then postponed the meeting for 10 minutes.

After consulting with the Legal Office, the General Assembly President clarified that Syria had requested a separate vote on part of paragraph 23 of draft resolution A/64/L.26, pursuant to Rule 89 of the Rules of Procedure, which was a sovereign right of any Member State.

Pursuant to that request, the Assembly would proceed to the separate vote on the words in question in operative paragraph 23.  Under that vote, “yes” meant that the words would stay in the draft.  “No” meant that the words would be deleted and the General Assembly then would take action on the draft resolution as a whole.

Syria’s delegate, in a point of order, said his request had been to clarify the matter on which the Assembly was expected to vote.  There had been a misunderstanding among colleagues.  His delegation’s request pertained only to vote on a deletion of a “minor” part of paragraph 23, not an entire sentence. Syria had requested deletion of the following words:  “ Israel as Chair”, only.  The rest of that sentence would be read as follows: “and takes note that the Process has selected the Democratic Republic of the Congo as Vice Chair of the Process for 2010”.  He had not requested that the whole sentence be deleted, as Syria highly appreciated the Presidency of Namibia, a friendly State.  He only wished that there had been no mention of Israel, a reason that emanated from that country’s malignant role in the diamond trade, particularly in Africa.  The Rules of Procedure allowed for a vote on any phrase in any draft resolution.

Egypt’s delegate said what had been read as an amendment earlier by Syria’s delegate was different than what had just been explained by that delegate.

Israel’s delegate said his delegation joined Egypt in saying that until the recess, the vote had been on an affirmative reiteration.  What had just been heard from one representative was something else:  a request to delete something.  What was the Assembly voting on?

The General Assembly President said the vote would be on what had been decided before the recess.

Action

By a recorded vote of 90 in favour to 6 opposed (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Libya, Somalia) and 18 abstentions, the Assembly decided to maintain the wording of operative paragraph 23 in the resolution (Annex).

The Assembly then adopted by consensus resolution A/64/L.26 on “The role of diamonds in fuelling conflict:  breaking the link between the illicit transaction of rough diamonds and armed conflict as a contribution to prevention and settlement of conflicts”.

Explanations of Vote

The representative of Sweden, speaking on behalf of the European Union, stressed the great importance that the group attached to the Kimberley Process, which allowed the international community to act in a transparent and coordinated manner to eradicate the trade in conflict diamonds.  Observing the value of acting in consensus, he suggested that the trend to politicize the issue might undermine the work of fuelling development rather than conflict.  The text did not reflect the outcome of discussions at the Process’ plenary meeting from 2 to 5 November.  In particular, he expressed regret that no reference was made to the continuing challenge faced by Zimbabwe in implementing the process.  There was an action plan to address the concerns of the review mission, which had found significant non-compliance in Zimbabwe with the Scheme’s minimum requirements.  Also, the European Union wished to underline its regret that the election of the new Chair and Vice Chair had not been welcomed in accordance with customary practice.  The group itself would like to warmly welcome Israel and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as they took up the Chair and Vice Chairmanship. 

The representative of Canada said the purpose of United Nations resolutions on the role of diamonds was to acknowledge the comprehensive review process and to update the decisions and outcomes of meetings of the Kimberley Process in a given year.  Canada had joined consensus to support the Process, but was disappointed that the resolution did not accurately reflect its work in 2009.  Zimbabwe had been a main item on its agenda this year; a review mission led by Liberia had taken place in June and July, which found credible indications of significant non-compliance with the minimum requirements of the Process Certification Scheme, according to language taken from the communiqué agreed to by both Zimbabwe and Namibia.  The review had also found instances of human rights abuses related to diamond production at Marange.  A workplan was developed for immediate implementation, but, regrettably, the resolution had ignored that key development.  In addition, Canada did not support the wording regarding the current and upcoming chairmanship of the Process.  Israel had been the consensus choice of Vice-Chair and then Chair of the Process, and United Nations’ resolutions had traditionally welcomed the incoming Chair.  The present resolution should have done the same.  It was for that reason that Canada had not been able to co-sponsor the resolution.

Japan’s delegate said his Government was a supporter of the Process and appreciated its role in helping ensure the effective implementation of Security Council resolution 1459 (2004) to combat trafficking in conflict diamonds and to prevent future conflicts.  It recognized the high importance of the Process to settle conflict and advance peace and security, which provided support to participants facing temporary difficulty in complying with its requirements.  He encouraged such participants to engage in the Process, and expressed appreciation to those States that had participated actively in discussions to formulate the resolution.  He regretted that they had not been able to complete their discussion and to reach consensus.  Notwithstanding that situation, he expressed appreciation to the Government of Namibia for its activities as Chair, and welcomed Israel and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as Chair and Vice Chair.  Japan looked forward to cooperating with them and other members.

The representative of Switzerland thanked Namibia, as Chair, and announced her Government’s deep commitment to the Process and its positive impact to reduce the role of conflict diamonds in fuelling unrest and to protect the legitimate trade in diamonds.  She had been disappointed at the thrust of the resolution; a better outcome for the parties could have been reached.  She feared that omitting a reference to Zimbabwe would damage the image of the Kimberley Process, making its future work difficult.  She considered it a missed opportunity not to address the major challenges that the Process had to contend with.  Also, the role of the private sector and civil society had not been reflected adequately.  Although her Government had joined consensus, it did so with the uneasy feeling that the Assembly had not lived up to its responsibilities.  She thanked the outgoing Chair, Namibia, and welcomed and congratulated Israel and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who would hopefully bring the process one step forward.

In his statement in explanation of the vote after the vote, the representative of New Zealand said as a country that strongly supported the Kimberly Process, it was disappointing to note that the draft resolution had removed all language relating to Zimbabwe.  Removal of any reference to the situation in the Marange diamond area was not a true reflection of the situation, and New Zealand was thus concerned with Zimbabwe’s non-compliance with the requirements of the Kimberly Process.  He welcomed Israel and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as incoming Chair and Vice Chair respectively, of the Kimberly Process and looked forward to constructive and consensus building during their tenure.

The representative of Australia, similarly, said that as a strong supporter of the Kimberly Process, Australia considered it important that all members complied with the requirements of the Process.  It was, therefore, regrettable and unfortunate that this years members failed to take a strong position on a member -- Zimbabwe -- that had clearly been non-compliant with the requirements of the process.

He said, as a result, Australia could not co-sponsor the draft resolution. He further regretted that the draft resolution also failed to live up to past practice of welcoming the incoming Chair and Vice Chair, largely for political reasons.  He said it was unfortunate that a delegation that had taken such an active part in all the negotiations leading up to today had to wait until the last moment to bring up opposition to the draft resolution, based on political considerations.

In her statement in explanation of position after the vote, the representative of the United States welcomed and looked forward to working with Israel as that country assumed the chair, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as it assumed the vice chair of the Kimberly Process.  She said the Governments, industry, and civil society organizations engaged in the Kimberly Process deserved recognition for six years of collective efforts in preventing diamonds from being used to fund conflict.  She also noted a number of achievements by the Kimberly Process in 2009, including the establishment of measures for enhanced cooperation on law enforcement and for the sharing of critical Kimberly Process data with the United Nations, among other progress.

However, notwithstanding those positive developments, she expressed serious concerns about Zimbabwe’s non-compliance with the minimum requirements of the Kimberly Process, particularly related to smuggling and grave violence in and around the Marange diamond fields.  Reaffirming the United States’ strong commitment to the goals and work of the Kimberly Process, she said she expected full and expeditious implementation of the stringent controls that were agreed to by Zimbabwe during the recent plenary.  That was needed to address serious non-compliance in Zimbabwe and to help restore the Process credibility, which everyone acknowledged had been damaged during 2009.  Further, the United States looked to Zimbabwe’s neighbours, international trading centres, and the diamond industry to redouble their efforts against illicit diamonds from the Marange region, in order to give the decision agreed to by Zimbabwe and the rest of the Kimberly Process a chance to succeed, and to bring the smuggling, violence and human rights violations there to an end.

Israel’s delegate thanked all delegations that had warmly welcomed Israel’s initiation, in January, as Chair of the Kimberley Process.  The resolution contained certain deficiencies and omissions that were cause for concerns.  Non-compliance of the Kimberley Process certification scheme by Zimbabwe was of deep concern.  Ongoing problems related to the Marange diamond fields merited attention.

Israel regretted States’ efforts to use such important issues to promote a politicised agenda, he said.  What had been seen today was a gap between the real world and the General Assembly, which overlooked historic facts, as Namibia had pointed out.  That had been done only for politicised reasons, rather than any real worry over blood diamonds, the real issue at stake.  The drafters would do better to reflect the real world, instead of succumbing to politicisation.

For such reasons, Israel did not co-sponsor the text, though it had joined consensus on it.  “The world is so lucky to have a real Kimberley Process, where real concerns are met,” he said.  Israel, as incoming Chair of the Process, was prepared to assume greater responsibility to continue contributing towards more effective implementation of the Process.

Syria’s delegate said the Assembly had just adopted, by recorded vote, a draft resolution entitled “The role of diamonds in fuelling conflict:  breaking the link between the illicit transaction of rough diamonds and armed conflict as a contribution to prevention and settlement of conflicts.”  The title of that text was very important, as it was linked to attempts to exacerbate conflicts in Africa.  He regretted that the Assembly had not been able to adopt the proposal made by his country, which would have enabled adoption of the resolution by consensus.

He said the goal of the resolution was to prevent illicit transactions in rough diamonds.  It aimed to prevent the illicit exploitation of wealth through transnational activities that would deprive countries of their wealth.  Syria had supported Namibia’s Chair of the Process and spoken out against appointing Israel as Chair because such a choice would promote a misunderstanding of the noble objectives contained in the resolution’s title.

The Group of Experts on Côte d’Ivoire had underscored Israel’s involvement in the export of rough diamonds from that country.  Paragraph 253 of its report said that Israeli authorities had provided information vis-à-vis investigations into illegal transactions of rough diamonds and a Task Force was asking Israel to investigate the possibility that its citizens and corporations were participating in the illicit trade of Ivoirian diamonds.  He cited one family’s management of a rough diamond project in Israel, and a family-owned company was also involved in illicit diamonds from Liberia.  He was surprised that the Assembly would adopt a text that contradicted a report of another important United Nations body, namely, the Group of Experts dealing with the illicit diamond trade in Côte d’Ivoire.

The representative of Venezuela thanked the Government of Namibia for the excellent way in which it conducted the Kimberley Process while it was Chair, and congratulated the Democratic Republic of the Congo as incoming Vice Chair.  As the resolution’s co-sponsor, her Government had been “really alarmed” at how the mechanism had been politicized.  It was meant as a mechanism for cooperation, and was a voluntary mechanism, which Venezuela had joined, for the purpose of reining in anything that might stoke conflict in Africa.  This morning, some delegations had taken the floor on the pretence of being the Process’s guarantors, pointing their fingers at other countries in a way that was totally unacceptable.  That was why she abstained from the vote.  Her Government’s change in position was also due to the reasons pointed out by the representative of Syria, which were serious.  Indeed, the Process must examine whether there was a conflict of interest between the country that would be Chair and the Process itself, and in the meantime, she would transmit the information relayed by Syria to her Government.  States involved in the transnational movement of diamonds also had serious responsibilities, and she feared that, if the Process was not revised, it would lose its teeth and legitimacy.

Right of Reply

The representative of Zimbabwe, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said he was pleased to see the resolution adopted by consensus.  He was grateful to the Government of Namibia for its chairmanship and for shepherding the resolution through the Assembly.  Commenting on what he called a “charade” by countries deeming themselves to be guarantors of the Process, who had referred to Zimbabwe’s supposed non-compliance with the mechanism, he said such States should begin looking at the issue from a global perspective.  In this situation, Zimbabwe was a victim.  Diamonds were being smuggled out of the country, among other things, and were finding their way into markets in Israel, Canada, Antwerp, and the United States.  Thus, when talking of compliance, let it be discussed from a global perspective and not simply as Zimbabwe’s problem, which should be properly seen as a victim.  His country knew that there was a need to safeguard its diamond industry, and had agreed to a work plan to that effect.  Those States that had brought the issue of Zimbabwe’s non-compliance into the General Assembly were, in effect, arguing over a technical issue.  In fact, the communiqué was on record.  There was no added value in repeating its language in the resolution.  He reminded the States that were pointing fingers of the fact that, were there no buyers in their countries, there would have been no trade of conflict diamonds.  They needed to take a holistic view of the problem, instead of finding a scapegoat.

ANNEX

Vote on part of OP Para 23

The wording of operative paragraph 23 of the draft resolution on the role of diamonds in fuelling conflict (document A/64/26) was retained by a recorded vote of 90 in favour to 6 against, with 18 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Albania, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Latvia, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:  Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Syria.

Abstain:  Algeria, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Chile, Comoros, Egypt, Indonesia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela.

Absent:  Afghanistan, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belize, Bhutan, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Nauru, Nicaragua, Niger, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, Yemen.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.