Policies & Issues

KP Plenary Again Ends With No Movement on ‘Conflict’ Definition

Policies & IssuesNov 18, 2021

KP Plenary Again Ends With No Movement on ‘Conflict’ Definition

Botswana will take over as chair of the Kimberley Process in 2022, with Zimbabwe serving as vice chair.

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The 2021 plenary meeting of the Kimberley Process, the scheme devised in 2000 to combat the flow of “conflict” diamonds into the trade, was held in person and online from Nov. 8-12 in Moscow.
Moscow—A hybrid version of the Kimberley Process plenary meeting wrapped up last week, setting the stage for two African nations to helm the process in 2022.

The meeting, held in Moscow Nov. 8-12, ended—again—with KP participants failing to pass a measure that would expand the definition of what constitutes a “conflict” diamond.

The issue of expanding the definition of conflict to include human rights abuses—not just diamonds used by rebel groups to fund the overthrow of legitimate governments—stretches back to 2012, when the United States chaired the process.

Ahead of the plenary each year, both the World Diamond Council and the Kimberley Process’ Civil Society Coalition speak out about the importance of expanding a definition that is now two decades old. (The KP started in 2000, and the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme officially launched in 2002.)

And each year, an expanded definition fails to garner the full consensus needed to pass, leading JCK News Director Rob Bates to describe the proposal as “perpetually stalled” in an editorial published following this year’s plenary.

The WDC, meanwhile, said in its post-plenary statement it “would have preferred that the KP make a concrete decision about the expansion of the conflict diamond definition” this year, while the KPCSC was blunter in addressing what it views as an ongoing failure.

“We are getting used to being disappointed about the lack of progress in the seemingly endless discussions on updating the KP’s conflict diamond definition. We now know everybody’s arguments and excuses by heart,” the KPCSC said in a statement circulated online only, as there was no time for civil society and industry observers to deliver their standard closing remarks this year. 

“This was another [situation in which] discussions had to be stopped prematurely because those opposing dialogue refused to move an inch. This offers little hope about any future efforts to make the KP catch up with reality, for which the conflict diamond definition is only one of the many
weaknesses that require serious reform.”

One point of progress cited by both WDC and the KPCSC was the Declaration on Supporting Principles for Responsible Diamond Sourcing, with the KPCSC stating it is “hopeful” Botswana’s leadership of the KP next year will help the process “turn these words into action.” 

 Related stories will be right here … 

Other points of note to emerge from the 2021 KP plenary meeting include the following.
—The KP is considering sending a review mission to the Central African Republic in 2022, a nation that remains a point of concern due to ongoing violence and smuggling.

—Three new countries—Mozambique, Qatar, and the Kyrgyz Republic, a nation in Central Asia—were admitted as members.

— A fourth country, the Republic of Uzbekistan, has expressed interest in joining the process.

—In its opening and closing remarks, the KPCSC called on authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola to do what they can to mitigate the human and environmental toll caused by the pollution of the Congo River Basin. It is believed a leak in the tailings dam of the Catoca diamond mine in Angola is what caused the pollution, turning two of the river’s tributaries red, killing fish, and affecting millions of people.

— In his closing remarks, WDC President Edward Asscher paid tribute to Pamela Fierst Walsh, the longtime head of the American delegation to the KP and senior advisor on conflict minerals at the U.S. State Department. Walsh is leaving to take a job in the private sector. “This is a great loss to all of us here, but a win for her next position,” Asscher said. 

Russia chaired the Kimberley Process in 2021, with Botswana serving as vice chair.

In 2022, Botswana will step up to the role of chair nation, with Zimbabwe serving as vice chair. 

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