The General Assembly today underscored how the global diamond certification scheme can contribute to international peace and security and sustainable development, while also proclaiming 2021–2030 the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
Adopting by consensus a resolution on breaking the link between armed conflict and the illicit trade of rough diamonds, the 193-member organ encouraged strengthening further of the scheme, known as the Kimberley Process, to enhance its effectiveness in addressing challenges posed by instability and conflict to the diamond industry and related communities.
By other terms of the text, the Assembly also sought to ensure that the Process remains relevant for the future and continues to contribute to international peace and security and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, and looked forward to further exploring and advancing the ways in which the certification scheme contributes to peacebuilding and sustaining peace.
In the resolution, the Assembly also acknowledged the important contribution that the European Union made in 2018 as Chair of the Process, and welcomed the selection of India as Chair for 2019, the Russian Federation as Vice-Chair for 2019 and Chair for 2020, and Botswana as Vice-Chair for 2020 and Chair for 2021.
The Process, open to all countries, started when Southern African diamond-producing States met in Kimberley, South Africa, in May 2000, to discuss ways to stop the illicit diamond trade and ensure that purchases of the gemstone were not financing violence by armed movements and their allies seeking to undermine legitimate Governments. In December 2000, the Assembly adopted a landmark resolution supporting the creation of an international certification scheme for rough diamonds.
Speaking before the adoption of today’s resolution, the representative of the European Union said the bloc has been at the forefront of the Process, having played an active role in stopping the trade of conflict diamonds. “For several countries and communities, the Kimberley Process has made the difference between life and death, between war and peace,” she said.
Stressing that transparency and accountability of the rough diamond supply chain are paramount to ensure a responsible and diligent approach to sourcing rough diamonds, she said the Union made the review and reform of the Process the centre of its chairmanship.
The representative of Romania, in introducing draft resolution “L.75”, noted that the bloc aims to break the link between diamonds and conflict and will continue to do its utmost to serve as a catalyst for good governance and transparency in the management of natural resources.
Sixteen years ago, when the Process was established, the global diamond trade looked very different than it does today, he said, explaining that the certification scheme cut their flow to insurgencies and rebel groups, raised awareness among consumers and contributed to safeguarding the legitimate trade in the gemstone. Despite these accomplishments, he added, a sense of urgency is still needed to align the diamond industry with the 2030 Agenda.
Israel’s delegate said her country was the first to issue a certificate when the Process went into effect in 2003. Israel is pioneering harnessing technology to the process. Her Government mandated that the import of diamonds be fully computerized, opened at delivery and examined at customs with the minimum possible margin of error. In 2017, Israel passed a peer review with “flying colours,” she added.
Botswana, as the world’s leading diamond producer by value, relies heavily on the resource for funding its development, its delegate said, noting that since the establishment of the Process, conflict diamonds have dropped from 15 per cent as a proportion of the global trade in rough diamonds to less than 1 per cent. “There is no doubt that the Kimberley Process is a truly unique multilateral initiative that has brought together key stakeholders such as Governments, the diamond industry and civil society to stem the flow of conflict diamonds,” he emphasized.
The representative of the United Arab Emirates said her country, as chair of the Kimberley Process in 2016, had promoted the establishment of a permanent secretariat for the mechanism. She welcomed the inclusion of this plan in today’s resolution.
Australia’s delegate said her country chaired the Committee on Participation and Chairmanship in 2018 and worked to ensure the Process maintains high standards of compliance and integrity. It worked inclusively with stakeholders to strengthen the tripartite Government, industry and civil society structure.
The representative of the Russian Federation said the Process is unique, as it provides for the comprehensive monitoring of the international trade of rough diamonds. This year’s resolution is particularly important in that regard, he said, noting the need to increase monitoring of the source of rough diamonds to eliminate the possibility of synthetic stones entering the trade market.
India’s delegate said that his delegation, as Chair for 2019, will seek to strengthen the tripartite structure of the Process consisting of Government, industry and civil society, and enhance the regional approach which has been successful with the Mano River Union countries. It will also provide support for the alluvial and artisanal mining countries through capacity-building and technical assistance.
Sierra Leone’s delegate said that following the end of the 11-year civil war in his country, the Process helped curb the illicit trade in diamonds from there. All diamonds exported from the country now go through the certification mechanism put in place by the Process. The Government has just adopted its first policy on artisanal mining.
Turning to another matter, the Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution proclaiming 2021–2030 the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, within existing structures and available resources, with the aim of supporting and scaling up efforts to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide and raise awareness of the importance of successful ecosystem restoration.
By the terms of the text, the Assembly stressed that ecosystem restoration and conservation contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, as well as other related United Nations major outcome documents and multilateral environmental agreements, including the Paris Agreement adopted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
By other terms of the resolution, the Assembly encouraged Member States to implement measures, such as mainstreaming ecosystem restoration in policies and plans to address current national developmental priorities and challenges due to the degradation of marine and terrestrial ecosystems, biodiversity loss and climate change vulnerability, thereby creating opportunities for ecosystems to increase their adaptive capacity and opportunities to maintain and improve livelihoods for all.
The Assembly also invited the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to lead the implementation of the Decade, in collaboration with the secretariats of the Rio conventions, other relevant multilateral environmental agreements and entities of the United Nations system.
The draft resolution, “L.76”, was introduced by Lina Dolores Pohl Alfaro, Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources of El Salvador. She said the text seeks to serve as a framework for action and revitalize existing environment-related international agreements and commitments. It will contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, she said, noting that ecosystem degradation affects 3.2 billion vulnerable people in the world, especially in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The establishment of the Decade will help raise awareness about the importance of a functioning ecosystem and promote greater active involvement of stakeholders, she emphasized, inviting all Member States to proclaim 2021-2030 as such a decade.
Speaking after the adoption, the representative of the United States made clarification that the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Abba Action Agenda, which were referenced by the text, are non-binding and do not create new rights or obligations. Each country implements the instruments according to its own policy. Trade-related language contained in the Addis Ababa accord has been overtaken by events since 2015 and has no standing for the ongoing work in trade. Economic sanctions can be effective alternatives to the use of force.
The Assembly will meet at a time and date to be determined.