nverheyen's picture
nverheyen

2/20/12 4:17 PM

Since the Kimberley Process launched its Certification Scheme in January 2003, much has been achieved. The KP helped bring improved governance and transparency to the trade, in countries that were previously marked by conflict, such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Angola. The KP then helped enable improvements in diamond sector governance and monitoring in the vast range of producing, trading, and consuming countries. The KP directed the collection of detailed statistics on the rough diamond trade that were simply unobtainable before the KP’s existence. The KP continues to facilitate the development of detailed diamond footprints in producing countries. The U.S. is now spearheading a unique collaboration of geologists and rights’ monitors who will monitor artisanal diamond production in Guinea.

The KP has also served as a critical platform for development and a stronger focus on local communities in producing countries. The KP has made possible improved miner registration in Ghana and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has enhanced understanding of diamond valuation and improved diamond mining techniques in Sierra Leone and Guyana. And it has secured land tenure and stable incomes for artisanal miners in the Central African Republic and Liberia.

Not enough people know these stories, these accomplishments, and the many more like them. The KP has not been as effective as it must be in communicating with the world about its efforts and successes. As Chair, we will strive to publicize and augment these gains. But in order to build on these achievements, we must also look to those elements that need attention. This was at the core of the statement we issued at the close of the Kinshasa Plenary together with our Vice-Chair, South Africa.

As the U.S. Chairmanship begins, I think it is important to stress the KP’s proud heritage. That is what we intend to expand upon in the months ahead, together with all of the participants and observers. At the same time, we need to be open about weaknesses and difficulties that have also become apparent. Such difficulties are not, in the grand scheme of things, unexpected. The process of looking at what has worked and what requires reform will be a central focus of the US Chairmanship.

Of course we understand full well that the unanimous selection of the US as Chair was not a mandate to make decisions on our own. Instead, we see it as our duty to work closely with all Participants and Observers to gather their views and to bring about the reform that all agree is essential for the renewed efficacy and relevance of the KP.

We strongly believe that change must come. We believe just as strongly that change requires consultation, collaboration, and flexibility. This is what I, as Chair, will endeavor to foster throughout the year. The US was selected to build consensus and to listen, but we were also selected to provide vision. We have a set of goals – ambitious ones as befits the ambitious vision of the originators of the KP – to take the KP into its second decade and beyond.

In our view the KP must meet the current challenges if its mandate is to remain relevant. When founded, the KP focused on rebel movements seeking to use diamonds to fund their efforts to overthrow legitimate governments. Today, we see diamonds emerging from conflicts that do not involve the same types of rebel movements, but from broader contexts of conflict, and we believe the KP should carefully consider how best to address this. We also believe the KP can do much more to serve as a platform for engagement, information-sharing, and best practices in the diamond sector, on broader concepts of development, and on human rights. We will also focus on addressing “how” the KP functions. We will work to build on our recent support for improved enforcement, both at the domestic and international levels, including broader connections with law enforcement.

In addition, we will consider ways to improve the functioning of the KP working group system and its implementation of peer review. We continue to believe that a more permanent staffing mechanism is needed for the KP to truly serve its membership – and the broader public – and we will work to support the review committee’s engagement with existing international institutions to evaluate options for this. Finally, we will work with the World Diamond Council on how its “System of Warranties” can be even more widely implemented to support the efficacy of the Kimberley Process.

In recent years, we have had instances in which some Participants believed the KP was holding them to a different, unfair standard. We understand where this belief came from. But the answer to the criticism is not to run backwards from the challenge and say that no changes can be achieved, that the KP shall forever remain tied to the definitions it was given twelve years ago. Instead, the answer is to ensure the standards are applied fairly, consistently, and transparently to all, and that implementation is monitored and measured in an equally consistent and transparent manner. But definitions and standards must fit the challenges the diamond trade now faces. The KP must look to modernize and draw on the experiences of other multi-stakeholder initiatives that address consumer demands for products that respect human rights.

This is a challenging path we have set for ourselves, and as I made clear, we intend to roll up our sleeves and work closely with everyone in the KP to help us chart it together. We do not have all the answers yet. Those solutions will emerge through the powerful collaboration that can, and must, occur among family members devoted to the same goal. Nelson Mandela was quoted as saying that the Kimberley Process has the “proclivity to do the right thing, especially when pushed.” We are being pushed right now, and we aspire to do the right things.