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JA and DMIA Call for Definitive Kimberley Process Improvements

Plenary Must Adhere to 'Consumer Expectations'

Oct 28, 2011 11:21 AM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... Jewelers of America (JA) and the Diamond Manufacturers and Importers Association of America (DMIA) issued a joint statement urging the Kimberley Process to make further progress on key reforms during its upcoming Plenary in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on October 31 through November 3, 2011.

Reforms will strengthen the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, assuring its continued relevance, and help protect consumer confidence in the diamond and jewelry industry, according to the JA and DMIA. Further, if satisfactory progress cannot be made at the meeting in addressing issues that have plagued the Kimberley Process for the past two years, JA and the DMIA believe the industry must move forward to address concerns.

In particular, the Kimberley Process has been challenged by the ongoing situation in the Marange region of Zimbabwe, where alleged human rights violations were initially reported in 2008. Since November 2009, the Kimberley Process has been unable to find consensus on a mechanism through which Zimbabwe could export rough diamonds. Consequently, there have been only a few official exports of Marange diamonds since that time, and the Kimberley Process has been unable to fully resolve the situation. The result of this ongoing impasse: Monitoring gaps have been exposed in the Kimberley Process, straining it internally and undermining its credibility among participants, industry and civil society. The Marange issue has also brought the question forward on how to deal with diamond mining-related human rights violations.

In order to address Kimberley Process  concerns, JA and the DMIA believe the global process must adopt reforms. Specifically, the groups cite the need for systematic, evolutionary improvements that include establishing a permanent Kimberley Process secretariat, development of an improved voting,  arbitration and conciliation systems with regard to participant dispute resolution, more systematic internal control monitoring and a robust enforcement mechanism.

Additionally, JA and the DMIA strongly urge plenary participants to commit to ongoing efforts to develop ways to strengthen the Kimberley Process by expanding its mandate to meet new ''consumer expectations,'' ensuring that the process includes within its mandate: Human rights of populations living in and around diamond mining areas and the inclusion of the prohibition of any form of violence around diamond mining, not only rebel-related violence, but inclusive of state-related violence and violence by foreign groups.

''Since it was established, the Kimberley Process has been a vital tool in eliminating conflict diamonds,'' said Matt Runci, the president of JA. ''That said, we have reached a crossroads where the Kimberley Process must take steps to evolve as a system and make improvements that enable it to better address issues that fall outside its initial mandate. If these changes cannot happen within the Kimberley Process, the industry will have to find its own solutions to maintain consumer confidence.''

DMIA president Ronald Friedman added, ''The Kimberley Process is the foundation upon which all other systems are anchored. Furthermore, we cannot minimize the importance of the Kimberley Process in terms of what it has accomplished, nor should we deny its shortcomings. We must concentrate and focus on strengthening consumer confidence by defending the interests of all participants in the diamond pipeline.''

JA and the DMIA continue to support the Kimberley Process and believe it provides a foundation upon which the industry has been able to build and protect consumer confidence in diamonds during the past decade. At the same time, the associations have been proactive in addressing issues that are beyond the current scope of the Kimberley Process, recommending their respective members practice due diligence to protect their supply chains. Since 2009, JA and the DMIA have urged members to avoid trading in diamonds from the Marange region of Zimbabwe and will continue to do so until the situation has been resolved.

More recently, JA and the DMIA have been working with other industry stakeholders to ensure the U.S. industry is prepared to deal with issues that may arise if the Kimberley Process proves unable to address.

Runci added, ''A diamond jewelry purchase is significant – often marking a major personal and emotional milestone for a consumer. With so much at stake, the industry must continue to move toward greater transparency and accountability in order to maintain and improve consumer trust.''

 

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Tags: conflict, diamonds, Jeff Miller, Kimberley Process, Marange, meeting, regulations, Zimbabwe
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