Washington DC, United States — 29 November 2012 – Participants in an international group that certifies that rough-cut diamonds are free from conflict are expected to update the definition of “conflict diamonds” during the group’s current four-day annual meeting in the American capital.
Those participating in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme plenary meeting now underway at the State Department here will also decide on other actions to ensure that legitimate trade in diamonds continues, said Gillian Milovanovic, who represents the United States as the 2012 chair of the process. This is the first time the United States has served as chair.
“We need to do everything in our power to keep the Kimberley Process relevant and effective so that ‘diamond’ remains synonymous with love and commitment,” he added.
All.Africa.com reports that the Kimberley Process, or KP, was formed in 2003 when African diamond producers met in Kimberley, South Africa, to discuss ways to stop the trade in conflict diamonds. The process is open to countries willing to adopt legislation and institutions to certify that rough diamonds have not been associated with conflict, and to prevent diamonds involved in conflict from entering legitimate trade. Representatives of industry and civil society serve as observers to the KP.
Unlike the case in some international efforts, changes to the Kimberley Process must be adopted by consensus.
As of August 2012, the KP has 51 participants representing 77 countries. (The European Union and its member states count as a single participant.) Nearly all of the global production of rough diamonds comes from KP members.
Participants can only trade legally with other participants who have met the minimum requirements of the scheme. International shipments of rough diamonds must be accompanied by a KP certificate guaranteeing that they are conflict-free.
Under the current definition, a “conflict diamond” is a rough diamond used by a rebel movement or its allies to finance conflict aimed at undermining a legitimate government.
In opening the meeting, Milovanovic cited progress made by the KP in 2012, beginning with a focus on the implementation and enforcement of legitimate diamond trade.
During 2012 the KP standardised a system of sharing with KP participants and the World Customs Organisation fraudulent certificates that claimed a diamond was conflict-free. It also arranged for the World Customs Organisation and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to hold a daylong seminar for customs officials during the plenary meeting.
The diamond industry is also working to firm up legitimate trade in diamonds, Jose Fernandez, U.S. assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs, said at the start of the meeting. “Industry is aware of the danger that conflict diamonds present, and is taking action in its own way in order to complement the Kimberley Process,” he said, citing the Responsible Jewellery Council, which has set up a voluntary chain-of-custody certification system covering ethical and environmental practices that “extend from the mine site to the family-owned retail boutique to the Fortune 500 megastore.”
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