General Assembly Reaffirms Strong, Ongoing Support for Kimberley Process Targeting Global Trade in ‘Blood Diamonds’, by One of Four Resolutions
General Assembly Reaffirms Strong, Ongoing Support for Kimberley Process Targeting Global Trade in ‘Blood Diamonds’, by One of Four Resolutions
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
68th Meeting (AM)
General Assembly Reaffirms Strong, Ongoing Support for Kimberley Process
Targeting Global Trade in ‘Blood Diamonds’, by One of Four Resolutions
Three Other Resolutions Concern Interreligious, Intercultural Dialogue;
Cooperation with Portuguese-Speaking Countries, Organization of Islamic Conference
Recognizing ongoing serious concern about the direct link between the “rough diamonds” trade and armed conflict and the activities of rebel movements aimed at undermining legitimate Governments, the General Assembly today reaffirmed its strong and continuing support for the Kimberley Process and its related certification scheme aimed at ending the global trade in the “blood diamonds”, which fuelled brutal civil wars in West Africa and elsewhere during the 1990s.
The resolution, which was one of four consensus texts adopted on a range of issues, noted the Assembly’s satisfaction that implementation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme continued to have a positive impact on reducing the opportunity for such diamonds to play a role in fuelling armed conflict and would help to protect legitimate trade and ensure effective implementation of the relevant resolutions on trade in “conflict diamonds”.
The Assembly acknowledged the efforts of the Kimberley Process and its mechanisms to strengthen implementation and enforcement, and in particular to ensure coordination of its actions in relation to fraudulent certificates, apply vigilance and ensure the detection and reporting of shipments of suspicious origin and to facilitate the exchange of information in cases of infringement. It also called on the participants of the Kimberley Process to continue to articulate and improve rules and procedures to further enhance the effectiveness of the scheme.
During the Assembly’s debate on the issue, most speakers agreed that while the initiative had met with some success, it had not completely halted trade in diamonds from some conflict-torn countries. Concerned by reports of ongoing human rights violations and diamond smuggling, one delegation levelled the charge that the Kimberley Process leadership was not adequately tackling non-compliance. Others specifically called on both Zimbabwe and Venezuela to engage in a more transparent and forthcoming manner with the scheme and its Chairperson, to address those serious issues, even as representatives of the two countries rejected the accusations as politically motivated.
As he introduced the resolution, Boaz Hirsch, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Labour of Israel, and outgoing Chair of the Kimberley Process, said that during the past year he had focused extensively on finding a solution to the issue of rough diamond exports from the Marange diamond fields in Zimbabwe. He was concerned that no consensus had been reached on a way to move forward on the matter and said that if ongoing discussions yielded no concrete answers, he would recommend that the incoming Chair, Democratic Republic of the Congo, “take all means to reach a long-term solution on this issue”.
Canada’s representative said the Kimberley Process faced a critical moment with the “polarizing debate on Zimbabwe”, uncovering deep flaws in its ability to address non-compliance in a timely, effective manner. He was concerned at Zimbabwe’s “piecemeal” implementation of the joint workplan agreed to at the 2009 plenary, and hoped that ongoing negotiations with Zimbabwe would produce a mutually satisfactory outcome. The representative of the United States added that Zimbabwe’s full compliance was essential to both the integrity of the Process and the global commitment to address diamonds and conflict. He also encouraged Venezuela to come back into compliance with the Process.
Saying that his Government would “never bow” to such false allegations, especially from those who were in thrall to the diamond industry’s whims, Zimbabwe’s representative said his country would continue to engage constructively in the Kimberley Process “despite the accusations of those blinded by racism and brutal power”.
What bothered the detractors most, he said, was not what Zimbabwe was doing with its diamonds, but the fact that those precious gems were not under their control. It was time for the modern-day colonialists and their friends to wake up; “the beautiful train laden with glorious stones is leaving without you,” he said, vowing to put Zimbabwe’s diamonds to use for the betterment of its own people, and those who wished to retard such progress would be shamed.
Speaking ahead of the vote, Venezuela’s delegate said that while his country had participated in negotiations on the issues being addressed today, it had been the target of attacks by those seeking to block the possibility of its participation in the Kimberley Process. Israel had not allowed for a positive mention, in the draft, of Venezuela’s steps taken to fully integrate into the system. Venezuela had decided to self-suspend until it could meet the minimum criteria required by the Process for trade of its diamonds.
In other action today, the Assembly adopted a text on the promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace, reaffirming the solemn commitment of all States to fulfil their obligations to promote universal respect for and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, in accordance with the United Nations Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
By a resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries, the Assembly noted that the Portuguese language united some 240 million people across eight countries, and, among other things, recognized the importance of the Community’s May 2009 decision to create centres of excellence for training in peacekeeping operations, with a view to continuing and possibly enhancing the Community’s contribution in that area. It also welcomed the efforts of the Community and the international community to consolidate political stability in Guinea-Bissau, and recognized the positive role played by the Peacebuilding Commission in that regard.
Adopting a consensus resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Assembly, among other things, affirmed that the organizations shared a common goal of promoting and facilitating the Middle East peace process, so it could reach its objective of establishing a just and comprehensive peace in that region. It also requested the organizations to continue to cooperate in their common search for solutions to global problems, such as questions relating to international peace and security, disarmament, self-determination, and promotion of a culture of peace.
Also speaking in today’s debate on the Kimberley Process were the representatives of Belgium (on behalf of the European Union), Russian Federation and South Africa.
Speaking in explanation of position after action on the related resolution were the representatives of the United Arab Emirates (on behalf of the Arab Group), Iran, Syria and Botswana. Israel’s delegate spoke in a point of order.
Speaking on the Assembly’s agenda item on “culture of peace” was the representative of the Philippines.
Pakistan’s representative introduced the related text on “promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace”. Speaking in explanation of position before action on that text was the representative of Belgium (on behalf of the European Union).
Angola’s representative introduced, on behalf of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP), the resolution on “cooperation between the United Nations and those countries”, while the representative of Tajikistan introduced the resolution on “cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference”.
The General Assembly will reconvene at a time and date to be announced.
The General Assembly met today to consider the role of diamonds in fuelling conflict. In that connection, it had before it the report of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme to the General Assembly for 2010, transmitted in a letter by Israel’s Permanent Representative, on behalf of the country in its capacity as Chair of the Kimberley Process, to the Secretary-General (document A/65/607).
The report notes various achievements in 2010, among them the holding of workshops in Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone and Liberia to address diamond smuggling. An enforcement seminar, held on 24 June, featured presentations by customs officials and diamond industry representatives. To prevent the seizure of non-conflict diamonds, Israel as Chair had initiated the establishment of a Sub-Working Group on Trade Facilitation, under the auspices of the Working Group on Monitoring. Regarding participation, the Participation Committee expressed concern at non-compliance by Venezuela and Lebanon with minimum requirements and called on them to redress that situation as a matter of urgency.
The report also outlines achievements in the areas of monitoring and peer review; technical assistance; technical issues and traceability; internal controls over artisanal/alluvial production; civil society; and cooperation with international organizations. As for future challenges, it notes that, as a voluntary process, its ability to withstand future challenges rested upon the goodwill commitment of participating Governments to apply minimum standards. In that regard, wide-ranging international cooperation was crucial for the Process to achieve its ultimate goal.
The rights and labour standards of alluvial artisanal diamond miners remained a challenge, the report says. The absence of an organized structure for those miners also obstructed the Process as they were largely unregistered and operated in conditions that made them vulnerable to buyers. Cooperation with civil society to improve the “development impact” of diamonds on those miners would, thus, sustain the Process in fulfilling its mandate, by helping to curtail trade in illicit diamonds.
The need to maintain vigilance over diamond shipments of suspicious origin was also needed, following the reporting of several such shipments by various participants over the past year. Effective and swift information exchange was essential in that regard. The gradual increase of cross-border online diamond sales, which had proved difficult to monitor, was also a concern, the report adds.
The Assembly was also expected to take action on four draft resolutions, the first of which, 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/65/L.52), would have it stress that the widest possible participation in the Kimberley Process was essential and call on participants to continue to improve rules and procedures to enhance its effectiveness. It would encourage continued efforts to strengthen implementation in West Africa, welcoming Guinea’s efforts in that regard and Liberia’s actions to respond to continued challenges including implementation.
The Assembly would also note with appreciation the significant attention by the Kimberley Process to improving enforcement, which had led to the convening of an enforcement seminar and issuance of a corresponding report entitled Diamonds without borders: an assessment of the challenges of implementing and enforcing the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. Further, it would note with satisfaction work performed on “footprinting” diamonds from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to bolster the capacity of the West African Kimberley Process authorities in addressing potential contamination of their own productions by sanctioned Ivorian diamonds and updating of the footprint of the Marange diamonds from Zimbabwe. It would welcome the selection of the Democratic Republic of the Congo as Chair, and note that the decision on Vice-Chair for 2011 would be taken by written procedure.
The draft text on the promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace (document A/65/L.44) would have the Assembly reaffirm the solemn commitment of all States to fulfil their obligations to promote universal respect for and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, in accordance with the United Nations Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights. States would be encouraged to consider, where appropriate, initiatives identifying areas for practical action in all sectors of society, and be called upon to consider interreligious and intercultural dialogue as an important tool in efforts to fully realize the Millennium Development Goals. States would be invited to promote reconciliation to help ensure durable peace and sustained development, including through reconciliatory measures and acts of service.
By a draft text on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (document A/65/L.23/Rev.2), the Assembly would recognize the importance of the Community’s May 2009 decision to create centres of excellence for training in peacekeeping operations, with a view to continuing and possibly enhancing the Community’s contribution in that area. It would note with appreciation the approval of the Community’s 2010 workplan for the oceans and acknowledge the relevance of the inaugural and second meetings of the Community’s Parliamentary Assembly, in April 2009 and March 2010, respectively.
Another draft, on cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) (document A/65/L.43), would have the Assembly, among other things, affirm that the United Nations and the OIC shared a common goal of promoting and facilitating the Middle East peace process, so it could reach its objective of establishing a just and comprehensive peace in that region.
Introduction of Draft
BOAZ HIRSCH, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Labour of Israel, and Chair of the Kimberley Process, briefed the Assembly on his Government’s leadership of the United Nations-backed scheme developed to stem the flow of illicit and conflict diamonds, saying his tenure had been simultaneously “challenging and rewarding, exhausting and gratifying”. The Kimberley Process encompassed many stakeholders and touched the lives of millions of people around the world, and he had worked closely and consistently with the communities that depended on diamonds for their livelihood and well-being, ensuring that the precious gemstones did not serve as a tool for oppression and abuse.
He said that, as Chair, Israel had acted, not only to uphold the core of the Process’ standards, but it had also enhanced the scheme’s capabilities by putting forward three comprehensive initiatives that aimed to improve enforcement measures to combat the trade in conflict diamonds through cooperation with the World Customs Organization. Those had also laid the foundation for a technical, administrative body, which assisted the rotating chairmanship in managing the Process regardless of resources. “These measures will undoubtedly make the Kimberley Process more robust by enhancing its operational capabilities,” he said.
He went on to tell the Assembly that during the year, Israel had focused extensively on finding a solution to the issue of rough diamond exports from the Marange area in Zimbabwe. He was concerned that no consensus had been reached on the way to move forward on that matter and said that if ongoing discussions yielded no concrete answers, he would recommend that the incoming Chair, Democratic Republic of the Congo, “take all means to reach a long-term solution on this issue”. Still, the unfortunate lack of consensus had not prevented his Government from taking controversial decisions that had proved of major importance in combating exports of rough diamonds from the Marange fields.
Supported by the Process members, the decisions taken under his chairmanship were vital to maintaining the integrity and credibility of the scheme, he said. They represented important milestones, as member countries remained steadfast in their adherence, despite the current lack of consensus. “This should serve as a source of pride to the Kimberley Process and as a notice to its critics,” he said.
Speaking next on behalf of the co-sponsors, he introduced the draft 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 the prevention and settlement of conflicts (document A/65/L.52). He said the text was a testament to the importance the world community placed on curbing the trade in “conflict diamonds”, and through it, States would resolve to continue the collective effort to achieve the goals of the United Nations and to ensure peace, security and safety for all.
CHRISTOPHE DE BASSOMPIERRE (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union, which participated as a single member in the Kimberley Process, noted with satisfaction that the tools that had made the Process so unique had been strengthened in the past year. As Chair of the Monitoring Working Group, the Union encouraged participants’ continued commitment to scrutiny through review visits and submission of substantive annual reports. The Union supported the development of new tools to adapt to changing environments, and in that respect, welcomed the new rules and procedures created under the Russian Federation’s leadership, as well as the implementation of new global vigilance measures that made use of the “footprints” of certain diamonds. Consistent use of such tools would strengthen the Kimberley Process’ ability to tackle the illicit conflict diamonds trade.
Continuing, he said recent rebel activity in the Central African Republic and the situation in Côte d’Ivoire were reminders of the threat that conflict diamonds might pose to regional stability and security. Engagement and monitoring of diamond production in Côte d’Ivoire by the Kimberley Process had shown the positive role the Process could play in crisis. Cooperation, as seen in the dialogue with Guinea and continued engagement with Ghana and Liberia, should continue.
The most complex challenge to the credibility of the Kimberley Process in 2010 related to the implementation of the “Swakopmund Decision and Joint Work Plan”, which addressed signs of non-compliance in Zimbabwe’s Marange mining area. Welcoming the “significant progress” of that country in moving towards full compliance with the Kimberley Process in the Marange diamond fields, he also noted the need for more action regarding the regulation of artisanal mining and prevention of systematic large-scale smuggling. He called on Zimbabwe to continue engaging with the Kimberley Process on the basis of the draft decision presented by the Process Chair, which provided a workable arrangement for implementation in Marange. The Union stood ready to support implementation of a consensual decision as vital to ensuring that Marange diamonds did not further fuel violence and human rights violations.
GILLES RIVARD ( Canada) expressed gratitude for Israel’s chairmanship of the 2010 Kimberley Process, especially for convening two extraordinary meetings in Saint Petersburg and Brussels to seek an agreement on the conditions of export for diamonds from the Marange fields in Zimbabwe. The Kimberley Process faced a critical moment with the polarizing debate on Zimbabwe, uncovering deep flaws in its ability to address non-compliance in a timely, effective manner. He was concerned at Zimbabwe’s “piecemeal” implementation of the joint workplan agreed to at the 2009 plenary, and hoped that ongoing negotiations with Zimbabwe would produce a mutually satisfactory outcome. He cautioned about taking a short-term view on that issue.
Expressing concern at the lack of respect for civil society observers in the process, he said they must be allowed to participate without fear of reprisal. Canada regretted that the draft made no reference to Zimbabwe’s obligations under the joint workplan or the Saint Petersburg agreement. It was also silent on the need for Venezuela to engage with the Kimberley Process. Ten years after the Kimberley Process’ first forum, the scope of the problem had been significantly reduced. The Kimberley Process had enhanced accountability, transparency and effective governance of trade in rough diamonds, but if it were to remain credible in the eyes of consumers, it must adapt to new realities, address new challenges and anticipate new opportunities. It was critical to work together to stop human rights abuses linked to diamonds and forbid such diamonds from entering the market.
MIKHAIL Y. SAVOSTIANOV ( Russian Federation) welcomed the aims of the Kimberley Process, which pooled the efforts of various parties to exclude conflict diamonds from legitimate trade. The Russian Federation welcomed the enhancement of the effectiveness of the Process and the expansion of its aims. At the same time, it was necessary to ensure transparency in all of the scheme’s processes, strengthen the leadership of its various mechanisms and shore up its implementation. He was pleased with the objectives that had been achieved under Israel’s Chairmanship over the past year, but was concerned by what his delegation perceived as an apparent shift in the Process’ mandate. The Process and its leadership should stick to the original aims and avoid politicization.
CEDRICK C. CROWLEY (South Africa) said that a mere 10 years after Governments, civic actors and diamond industry representatives, shocked by the role diamonds had played in civil wars in West and Central Africa, had gathered in his country to establish the Kimberley Process, that scheme had almost entirely eradicated conflict diamonds from the legitimate global gems trade. South Africa noted the expansion of the Process over the years and was pleased with the ongoing outreach efforts to ensure that it included all new diamond producers, traders and processors. Through its various working bodies, the Kimberley Process had become an efficient technical negotiating forum, which, despite many challenges, had managed to maintain the credibility of the diamond industry on which so many economies, especially in Africa, relied for their development.
He said the draft resolution before the Assembly was an invaluable opportunity take stock of the scheme’s achievements and challenges. The Kimberley Process was a critical forum for ensuring that the atrocities once associated with diamonds would never be repeated. While the Process had been very successful, the international community must nevertheless remain vigilant. South Africa supported efforts aimed at initiating a periodic review of the scheme to ensure that it remained relevant in an ever-changing environment. It also supported the “diamonds for development” agenda, as a way of ensuring that revenue from the gems made a difference in the quality of the lives of those who needed it the most.
GREGORY NICKELS ( United States) strongly supported the Kimberley Process, saying it was making tangible progress breaking the link between the transit of rough diamonds and armed conflict. The United States also strongly believed more efforts were needed. Government, industry and civil society organizations in the Kimberley Process deserved recognition for seven years of working to prevent diamonds from funding conflict. Among its achievements in 2010, the Kimberley Process had allocated resources to enforcement, with its first enforcement seminar, held in June, attended by industry and civil society organizations alike. Moreover, formal cooperation had been established with the World Customs Organization.
He also welcomed the willingness of members to focus on the evolution of the system, adding that incorporation of human rights principles also had been considered, especially as related to artisanal areas. In other areas, Guinea had taken “laudable” steps to implement the 2009 decisions. The role of diamonds in conflict could be no clearer than in West Africa and he welcomed that region’s addressing of diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire. The United States had serious concerns about Zimbabwe’s lack of progress in establishing minimum requirements in the Marange area, the violence around that area and the Government’s willingness to cooperate with the Kimberley Process. Indeed, there was “some way to go” to achieve the establishment of minimum requirements.
Zimbabwe’s achievement of full compliance was essential to both the integrity of Kimberley Process and the international commitment to address diamonds and conflict, he said. He also encouraged Venezuela to come back into compliance with the Kimberley Process, and the Central African Republic to cooperate, especially in monitoring rebels in its diamond mining areas. Without internal controls, the diamond trade would be vulnerable to abuse, which could lead to grave violence. Finally, he called on civil society organizations and industry, among others, to address the nexus between diamonds and rebel groups. Until diamonds represented prosperity for those throughout the supply chain, they would be vulnerable to abuse in conflict.
CHITSAKA CHIPAZIWA (Zimbabwe) said a very odious movement was afoot in the Assembly and his delegation was shocked and dismayed by some of the suggestions made this morning, especially following consensus negotiations on the text. The Governments represented in the room that had condemned Zimbabwe were themselves in thrall to the whims and wills of the diamond industry. That industry was part of a tribe that had benefited from Apartheid, and its friends now stood in judgement of Zimbabwe. Even so-called civil society, supposedly operating outside the reach of dominating Governments, had fallen under the sway of the diamond merchants. What bothered them all was not what Zimbabwe was doing with its diamonds, but the fact that those precious gems were not under their control. “Well, Zimbabwe will never bow to their false allegations,” he said.
He said that what also bothered those detractors was that Zimbabwe was a founding member of the Kimberley Process and would never fail to uphold the scheme’s purposes and principles. Delegations in the Assembly had spoken about human rights, but Zimbabwe would remind them that the Human Rights Council was mandated to discuss such issues. Zimbabwe acknowledged that it had human rights issues that might need to be addressed, but at the same time, it would not preach to others on their human rights records. Neither would Zimbabwe sneak beyond the limits of the global spotlight and carry out clandestine human rights abuses.
“Indeed, those who point fingers at Zimbabwe have much to run away from. We in Zimbabwe will address such matters without resorting to vengeance,” he said, adding: “Latter day colonialists must wake up; the beautiful train laden with glorious stones is leaving without you. Choo, choo, choo.” Zimbabwe would never surrender its diamonds. It would put them to use for the betterment of its own people, and those who wished to retard such progress would be shamed.
He stressed that Marange diamonds were not the only diamonds in Zimbabwe, but that they were being singled out because Black Zimbabweans controlled them. Those that were complaining about alleged smuggling were actually pitching tents in Zimbabwe and then chartering lavishly appointed jets and flying off to sell those very diamonds in other countries. Zimbabwe rejected paternalistic calls that the diamonds should be used for Zimbabweans. “Who are you to make such calls? Our diamonds are indeed for our own people,” he said, adding that the howling of the jealous would be dismissed with the contempt it deserved. He congratulated the Democratic Republic of the Congo as the Kimberley Process’ incoming Chair, and would continue to engage constructively in the scheme “despite the accusations of those blinded by racism and brutal power”.
Action on Draft
Speaking in explanation of position before action, Venezuela’s delegate said his country had participated in negotiations on issues being addressed today. However, it had been the target of attacks by those seeking to block the possibility of his country participating in the Kimberley Process. Israel had not allowed for a positive mention, in the draft, of Venezuela’s steps taken to fully integrate into the system. Venezuela had decided to self-suspend until it could meet the minimum criteria required by the Process for trade of its diamonds.
He said that Israel had refused to make any positive reference to Venezuela in resolution L.52. Recalling that the 2008 Delhi Declaration stated that the Kimberley Process would assist Venezuela to attain full integration into the system, he wondered what actions had been taken by Israel, as President. In five paragraphs of the text, there were “not very constructive” mentions of Venezuela. Such actions had been driven by the Israeli chairmanship and agreed upon at a meeting at which his Government had not been present. Venezuela would support the draft, but noted its reservations on operative paragraph 21. Venezuela could not recognize Israel’s performance in the Kimberley Process.
The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, the 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/65/L.52).
Speaking in explanation of position after action, the delegate of the United Arab Emirates, on behalf of the Arab Group, said the Group’s decision to join consensus aimed at supporting the objective of the resolution — to avoid illicit transactions from playing a role in armed conflict. Diamonds should be used for economic and social development, especially in helping African countries attain the Millennium Development Goals.
He said that Israel, in the “ad hoc group”, had attempted to allude to the city of Jerusalem, which had lived under occupation, referring to it as being merely Israeli and not an occupied Arab city. The Arab Group had drawn attention to that dangerous situation addressed in the draft text. He expressed concern that the Process in 2010 had been used for political and economic means, and insisted on the importance of guarding against such behaviour.
Iran’s delegate said his Government had also joined consensus on resolution L.52, as it supported the main goal of breaking the link between rough diamonds and armed conflict. However, it was unfortunate that the Israeli regime, with its record of trade in “blood diamonds”, had been President. He expressed strong reservation on the first part of operative paragraph 21, as well as on any part of the text or the report that might be construed as recognition of the Israeli regime.
The representative of Syria, associating with the United Arab Emirates on behalf of the Arab Group, said abuse of the diamond trade had led to the most destructive conflicts, especially in Africa. He had joined consensus to express support with the main purpose of the text, namely, to prevent illicit diamonds from playing a role in conflict. The text also aimed to prevent exploitation of natural wealth through transboundary activities that deprived diamond-producing countries from their natural resources.
He expressed Syria’s reservation on all paragraphs of the resolution that mentioned Israel, adding that he had serious concerns about Israel’s presidency, as it did not abide by the Kimberley Process principles. Israel’s presidency was a mistaken interpretation of the noble causes he had just outlined. Israeli diamond merchants, some of whom worked from illegal settlements in occupied Arab territories, took advantage of the diamond trade in Africa to sell illegal weapons. Such behaviour financed international terrorism and organized crime.
The representative of Botswana reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to the Kimberley Process. The resolution just adopted was an important instrument, which recognized the scheme’s unique relationship between the United Nations multiple stakeholders. He expressed sincere appreciation to Israel for its leadership of the Process in 2010 and welcomed incoming Chair, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Process served to break the link between trade in rough diamonds and armed conflict and it recognized the strides that had been made in achieving that goal, in line with the United Nations Charter. Botswana was aware of the challenges facing the Process, but it was also aware that its membership was prepared to take the scheme forward into the future.
Speaking on a point of order, the representative of Israel, the resolution’s main sponsor, thanked the delegations that had supported the text’s aims through consensus adoption. He deeply regretted the use of the forum by certain States to politicize another issue that had nothing to do with the resolution or the Kimberley Process. Indeed, combating the trade in conflict diamonds remained a priority throughout the international community and today, that effort had been strengthened. While an important step had been taken in New York, implementation of the resolution would continue around the world.
Introduction of Draft
LIBRAN N. CABACTULAN (Philippines) introduced a draft resolution on promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace (document A/65/L.44/Rev.1), saying that his delegation had first introduced a text on the matter in 2004 with the firm belief that one of the ways to achieve global peace was to draw the human family closer together in greater understanding and with respect for its diversity. “To do all this, walls have to be brought down, bridges have to be built,” he said, noting that six years on, the international community had moved forward together, closer towards that goal. “We have seen expanding efforts in many parts of the world to foster dialogue between religions, cultures and civilizations.”
He said that this year’s text had been crafted following several rounds of informal consultations and bilateral negotiations. Throughout the process, the Philippines endeavoured to be open and to consider comments from a wide range of the participants. With that in mind, he said the text, among other things, affirmed the importance of sustaining the effort to engage all stakeholders, in particular women and youth, in the intercultural and interreligious dialogue process. It also welcomed efforts by media organs to promote such dialogue, while at the same time, emphasizing that the right to freedom of expression carried special duties and responsibilities. Finally, he drew the Assembly’s attention to several technical corrections that had been included in the current text.
AMJAD HUSSAIN B. SIAL ( Pakistan), speaking on L.44/Rev.1, thanked the co-sponsors for their constructive contributions, and delegations for their flexibility in achieving a balanced text. He hoped it would be adopted by consensus. The text aimed to address issues that had never been more relevant in a world that had become more vulnerable to divisive ideologies and mutual suspicion. A lack of understanding could be thoroughly addressed by promoting dialogue, respect and tolerance of each others’ views.
He said that interfaith and intercultural dialogue must be promoted in an organized manner at all levels, including by religious leaders, local and national Governments, international organizations and the media, among others. Though diverse, religions had much more that united, rather than divided, them, and he urged building on commonalities for promoting harmony within and among societies. He appreciated steps being taken by Governments at the national level, including the Bishop-Ulema Conference in the Philippines, to promote understanding between the Christian and Islamic faiths. He urged support for the draft, with a view to strengthening efforts to foster understanding between cultures and faiths.
Action on Draft
Speaking in explanation of position before action, Belgium’s delegate, on behalf of the European Union, said he would join consensus on the draft with serious reservations about various elements. Intercultural dialogue could make a significant contribution to understanding, but he regretted that the co-sponsors could not include a reference to individuals and civil society in preambular paragraph 4. Interreligious dialogue was yet one dimension of intercultural dialogue. In the context of inter- and intrareligious dialogue, the United Nations could possibly play a facilitating role, promoting necessary conditions, but it should not endorse its outcome. States should respect religious leaders’ prerogatives in matters of religion and belief.
He said the European Union agreed that preambular paragraph 12 should not be read as States trying to interfere in those prerogatives. Also, religion or faith might form part of an individual’s identity, but the diversity of identities must be reflected in global dialogue. He regretted that all those basic foundations had not been incorporated into the text, expressing hope that next year, the co-sponsors would better reflect such concerns. Turning to operative paragraph 7, he expressed concern at the reference to the meeting on interfaith dialogue and cooperation for peace and development, saying it would have been more appropriate to refer to the non-aligned movement conference and documents in the preamble. The Union’s joining of consensus should not be construed as acceptance of the adoption of those documents.
He also noted with concern references to the media’s role in the promotion of interreligious dialogue. He did not wish to have the media receive instructions by the United Nations or States about what they should or should not do. Thus, the Union maintained its reservations on operative paragraph 5. Finally, he reiterated that a United Nations decade on interreligious and intercultural dialogue would not help genuine dialogue. The Union was opposed to the proliferation of new International Years or Days, as their effectiveness had been low. In sum, he attached great importance to intercultural dialogue, particularly by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The Assembly then adopted, as orally amended, the resolution L.44/Rev.1.
Introduction and Action on Drafts
ISMAEL GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) introduced, on behalf of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP), a draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and those countries (document A/65/L.23/Rev.2), saying that one of the Community’s major objectives was to strengthen cooperation among its members through concerted political and diplomatic action, especially within the framework of international organizations, to raise the profile of their shared concerns. Another important goal was to actively pursue intensified bilateral and multilateral cooperation, particularly in the sectors of health, education, agriculture, public administration and technology.
On the diplomatic front, he said the Community was deeply involved in developing initiatives with other international partners that could assure the security, political stability and normalization of democratic institutions in Guinea-Bissau. Turning to the draft resolution, he said that this year’s text focused on strengthening cooperation between the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries and the specialized agencies and other bodies of the United Nations, particularly the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), UNESCO and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), among others. The text also highlighted the importance of the decision taken by the Community in May 2009 to create “CPLP” Centres of Excellence for Training in the Area of Peacekeeping Operations.
Next, SIRODJIDIN ASLOV ( Tajikistan) introduced a draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (document A/65/L.43). Speaking on behalf of that body’s New York office, he said the text noted the desire of both organizations to cooperate closely in the political, economic, social, humanitarian and scientific fields, as well as in their common search for solutions to issues of shared concern. The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) remained an important partner of the United Nations in peace, security and fostering a culture of peace around the world, and the two organizations had taken decisions on a number of issues, including cooperation in conflict prevention and resolution, countering religious intolerance, including Islamophobia, and promoting and protecting human rights.Experience had shown that joint activities, which had arisen from closer cooperation, had catalysed deeper and more reflective interactions and had opened up new avenues for collaboration, he said. Closer cooperation between the United Nations and OIC and other organizations was essential to the pursuit of common objectives, including broad achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The OIC was prepared to take a pragmatic approach to ensure that agreed activities between it and the United Nations were implemented, and to that end, looked forward to the full support of all its partners.
Following those introductions, the Assembly adopted the two texts without a vote.
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