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Civil Society Coalition to Boycott 2016 Kimberley Process over UAE’s Chairmanship

Nov 18, 2015 3:53 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... The Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition (CSC) will boycott next year’s Kimberley Process (KP) in response to the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) chairmanship of the organization, it announced in a statement November 17.

The group raised concerns over what it said are the UAE’s “lenient standards and antagonistic relationship” with the coalition and said a “red line” had been crossed. The CSC said it has tried to work with the UAE to address governance issues and co-operate ahead of the country’s chairmanship of the KP but said it “came to discover that it lacked a sincere partner in this effort.”

"Our Coalition has a long history of collaborating with governments and industry towards our common goal of a clean, conflict-free, traceable supply chain. This is the first time we have faced a KP chair that does not respect the tripartite structure of the Kimberley Process,” said Michel Yoboué, the CSC’s representative from the Ivory Coast.

"Judging by UAE's favored status as the go-to place for illicit gold and diamonds, it would appear Dubai is not only a tax-free haven, but an ethics-free haven as well," CSC’s Cameroon representative Jaff Napoleon Bamenjo told the KP annual meeting in Luanda, Angola, November 17, the statement cited.

Undervaluation Concern

Concern has been raised about the “undervaluation” of diamonds entering the UAE, according to the group, which claims that exports of diamonds from Dubai in 2014 were on average 40 percent higher than their original import values.

“Despite repeated calls by civil society members to justify the practice of ‘transfer pricing,’ Dubai has stayed silent on the faulty valuations which deprive African diamond producing countries from much needed revenues.”

Ahmed Bin Sulayem, executive chairman of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), said in an e-mail that the CSC’s remarks were “baseless” and released copies of electronic correspondence from June 2015 that he claimed was evidence he had attempted to co-operate with the CSC.

WDC Reaction

In a separate statement by the World Diamond Council November 18, president Edward Asscher said it was important to maintain dialogue with stakeholders including the CSC.

“We need to engage with the NGOs and embrace their scrutiny if their criticism of the system is justified,” Asscher said. “We all have blind spots, but we should never turn a blind eye to their findings. Where they are justified in their criticism, we should adjust. Where they are wrong, we should tell them, without any doubt, professionally and openly.”

“We would deeply regret if the Civil Society Coalition would not attend next year's intercessional and plenary meetings in Dubai. It is up to the UAE to repair and improve this relationship, and we think it is the prime task of the UAE to do so before they take over the chairmanship in 2016," he added.

Another major concern of the CSC is that the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme does not specifically address human rights, Asscher said.

"As the only cross-border, international certification system for our product embraced by governments, we must take care that the credibility and functionality of the KP does not diminish," he asserted.
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Tags: Kimberley Process, Rapaport News, uae
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