Rapaport Magazine
Industry Views

From Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC)

By Ahmed Bin Sulayem
When approached to write an opinion piece for Rapaport Magazine that was squarely focused on answering the question, “What should we do about blood diamonds?” my initial reaction was to decline. Not because the topic isn’t extremely important, but because the question is so broad that a 500-word op-ed wouldn’t do it justice. Secondly, I feel the moniker “blood diamonds” isn’t a constructive term to continue brandishing as a way of highlighting the serious plight of a very small part of an industry which is otherwise fastidiously monitored and policed by its stakeholders. Diamonds are certainly not the only commodity to have a tainted past where illicit trade and financing is concerned, however we are yet to hear of commodities such as oil and minerals such as cassiterite, coltan and wolframite being branded with the same negative connotations. For this reason, I will use the term, “conflict diamonds” for the remainder of this piece.

Having chaired the Kimberley Process (KP) in 2016, I am very familiar with the challenges facing the diamond industry in terms of supply chains and sourcing, and even more familiar with how politics, economics, lobbying, corruption, smuggling, and in the worst of circumstances, slavery and murder have become an inseparable part of its story. It is important to emphasize that while no level of “conflict diamonds” should be considered acceptable, only a very small proportion (approximately 0.2%) ends up entering circulation thanks to the commitment of organisations such as the KP, a certification scheme with 85 countries working together with a mandate from the United Nations Security Council to regulate the trade of rough diamonds, and bring an end to their use in funding civil and territorial war.

Outside of my role as the former KP Chair, I am also an Ambassador for the World Diamond Council’s Systems of Warranties initiative, a programme that verifies the compliance of any rough or polished diamond, loose or set with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). In my capacity as chairman of the Dubai Diamond Exchange, I have not only integrated the SoW into the DDE’s bylaws, but also created a series of online awareness sessions and campaigns that educate our 1,100+ members about the initiative and how they can adhere and promote its policies.

In line with the new System of Warranties, which was launched on the International Day of Peace 2021, under the theme of “recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world,” we have also adopted the expanded scope which includes a revised warranty statement that sellers adhere to the updated WDC SoW Guidelines, which expressly support universally accepted principles of human and labour rights, anti-corruption, and anti-money laundering. It also includes an annual self-assessment requirement which requires all users to register on a dedicated website, and once a year successfully complete an online self-assessment to gauge their compliance with the WDC SoW Guidelines.

To quote WDC President Edward Asscher on the occasion, “It reflects our vision for a diamond industry that is not only free of conflict, but through its actions also promotes safe and secure working environments, equal opportunity and proper governance.”

Another key initiative which DMCC has been proud to work with is the Diamond Development Initiative and its work with NGO, Resolve. Since joining forces in 2020, both organisations have helped to bolster capacity to support responsible sourcing of artisanally-mined diamonds, with a focus on conflict prevention and resolution, poverty reduction, biodiversity protection, supply chain due diligence and ethical products.

With Dubai anticipated to become the world’s largest centre for diamonds in 2022, it is not only our duty to continuously raise industry standards, but to ensure that all nations and businesses with whom we cooperate adhere to the same. Once this is achieved, the diamond industry can fairly say it has done everything it can within its jurisdiction to end the spectre of “conflict diamonds” for good.

Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, DMCC
dmcc.ae

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