Initiative to Ensure Gemstones Catalyse Development, Not Civil War, Says Botswana
Precious gemstones were meant for development, not catalysing civil war, the General Assembly heard today as it adopted a resolution recognizing the devastating human impact of conflicts fuelled by the trade in illicit diamonds, while reaffirming support for the Kimberley Process initiative aimed at halting their flow into legitimate markets.
Adopting the text without a vote, the Assembly stressed that the widest possible participation in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was essential. Calling upon participants to continue to articulate and improve rules and procedures so as to further enhance the Scheme’s effectiveness, the Council welcomed recent steps by the Mano River Union countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone) to generate a new impetus for further regional cooperation in terms of compliance with it.
By other terms of the resolution, the Assembly recognized the important contributions that international efforts to address the question of conflict diamonds had made to the settlement of conflicts and the consolidation of peace in Angola, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
A joint initiative of Governments, the World Diamond Council, the industry umbrella group, and the Civil Society Coalition — established to prevent the flow of conflict diamonds into the legitimate international trade — the Kimberley Process aims to break the link between the illicit trade and armed conflict. The General Assembly, in resolution 55/56 of 2000, expressed the need for the creation of such a process and, by resolution 57/302, welcomed its launch in 2002.
Introducing today’s resolution, Bernardo Campos (Angola), Chair of the Kimberley Process, said it had demonstrated that “when Governments work together with the private sector and civil society organizations, they can ensure that the legitimate trade in diamonds helps countries reduce poverty”. The text reflected the substantial progress Kimberley had made in 2015, addressing the need to break the link between the illicit trade in rough diamonds and armed conflict.
Based on resolution 69/136 and the communiqué adopted at the Kimberley Process plenary meeting on 20 November 2015, he said, the text welcomed proposals for an international certification scheme for rough diamonds that could help to ensure implementation of Security Council sanctions on the trade in conflict diamonds. It also increased the accuracy of statistics, promoted prerequisites for cross-border Internet sales, and broadened involvement by Governments, regional groups, the diamond industry and civil society. In recent years, the Kimberley Process had made significant strides in fulfilling its mandate, he said.
Noting that the United Arab Emirates had been elected Chair and Australia Vice-Chair for 2016, he said that, since the lifting of the embargo imposed under Security Council resolution 2153 (2014), the Monitoring Team led by Angola had carried out a review visit to Côte d’Ivoire, which allowed that country to resume its export of rough diamond. Similarly, a review mission to the Central African Republic had enabled the resumption of rough diamond exports from compliance zones in July 2015. Those two steps represented tremendous progress towards allowing the marketing of legally exploited diamonds, he said, adding that, as of 1 December 2015, the Kimberley Process had 54 participants representing 81 countries, including 28 member States of the European Union.
Antonio Parenti, Head of the Economic, Trade and Development Section of the European Union, said that, as Chair of the Working Group on Monitoring, his delegation had helped to strengthen implementation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, encouraging the continuing commitment of participants to peer-review visits and substantive annual reports. He called for all participants to host a review visit every three years. He welcomed the commitment by participants to consider recommendations contained in the report of the Financial Action Task Force relating to risks in the diamond supply chain. It also welcomed efforts by the Central African Republic to implement its work plan and road map for enhancing internal control systems, as well as steps by the Mano River Union countries relating to regional cooperation to ensure compliance with the certification scheme.
David Roet (Israel), noting that the “dark underworld” of the diamond industry had operated in the shadows, recalled that, 12 years ago, the atrocities stemming from the illegal diamond trade had led the international community to establish a unique scheme requiring States to regulate production and trade. Recent years had seen numerous achievements, and thanks to concerted global commitment, 99 per cent of all diamonds sold today were certified “conflict-free”, he said. As the world’s leading exporter of diamonds and third largest trading centre, Israel had been among the first to raise awareness. Reaffirming the importance of Kimberley’s tripartite nature, he emphasized that civil society must be fully involved, particularly in monitoring implementation.
Nkoloi Nkoloi (Botswana), noting that his country was a founding member of Kimberley, stressed the importance of ethical trade in rough diamonds. Members were required to uphold high standards in certifying that shipments entering and exiting their territories were legitimate. They were required to put national legislation in place, as well as export, import and internal controls, in addition to making a commitment to transparency. With a view to harnessing its national capacity by ethical means, Botswana believed in “doing good for the good of its people”, he said. It was committed to safeguarding the integrity of the diamond industry because diamonds accounted for 40 per cent of Government revenues. The Kimberley Process would work to ensure that diamonds were a source of economic development rather than a catalyst for civil war.
Suood Rashed Ali Alwali Almazrouei (United Arab Emirates) said his Government had joined the consensus on the resolution, which marked an important step in enhancing the Kimberley Process. Welcoming his country’s having been chosen as Chair of the Kimberley in 2016, the first Arab country to have achieved that honour, he said it had implemented the Process since 2003, another Arab “first”. It had adopted a law on the import and export of rough diamonds, as well as other regulations that had made the United Arab Emirates a leading centre for the legal diamond trade. As the 2016 President, it looked forward to sharing its expertise and would propose ideas for enhancing cooperation among all stakeholders, he stressed, adding that, among other things, it planned to host Kimberley Process members at various conferences in Dubai to discuss its upgraded infrastructure.