From 8 – 12 November, the 2021 Kimberley Process (KP) Plenary takes place as a hybrid event, combining in-person meetings in Moscow with videoconferences by delegates from around the world. During the opening session, WDC President Edward Asscher reasserted the need for KP members to agree to expand the conflict diamond definition in order to support long-term consumer confidence. Mr. Asscher emphasized young consumers are increasingly expressing their demands for assurance about the social and environmental credentials of the products they buy and highlighted that the diamond industry has the ability to deliver these expectations. But to do so, KP members must act to expand the definition.
"The diamond is a product that has the potential to both speak to the aspirations of this new generation, as a natural resource with the potential of providing sustainable economic and social opportunities to the communities that produce it or be rejected, as a non-essential luxury item. We have the ability to decide that choice, but we will do so only through actions and not empty words,” Mr. Asscher said.
Mr. Asscher recognized some positive progress had been made, for example with the newly proposed ‘Frame 7’ principles, but also questioned why the KP remained unable to deliver progress on the most important issue: the expansion of the definition of conflict diamonds – a move that almost all of the KP members understands is necessary.
He reminded the audience of a prediction he made at the KP Intersessional meeting in June, about the risk of the emergence of a two-tier diamond industry. The upper, more established tier of companies, which are able to independently monitor their supply chains, is able to meet consumer expectations. But the lower, less established tier, will see its market share diminishing, often through no fault of its own, he said. The victims of such an outcome would include “the individuals, communities and entire economies that rely on revenues generated by diamonds for their livelihoods and future development,” Mr. Asscher stated.
He noted the role WDC’s upgraded WDC System of Warranties could play in helping to address this risk by continuing to support the trade in KPCS-compliant diamonds throughout the supply chain and at the same time indicating they comply with universal human rights and labor rights, and with essential principles of anti-corruption and anti-money laundering.
Furthermore, Mr. Asscher expressed the WDC’s dismay over the veto in the UN Security Council of the budget for the Panel of Experts in the Central African Republic (CAR), which he described as the ears and eyes of the UN on the ground, reporting objectively about problems in the country. As far as the WDC is concerned, there is no justification to expand the green zones in CAR at the moment. ”If the conditions of the new Operational Framework are not met, we should return to the old framework. In other words, we should go back to carrying out inspections before a shipment is approved for export from CAR, rather than following up after the shipment already has taken place,” he said.