Sunday, February 5, 2012

KP is for Rough diamonds, Not Polished, Say New KP Chair

The new Chair of the Kimberley Process, Ambassador Gillian A. Milovanovic does not foresee KP "going beyond the question of rough diamonds." However, the organization is examining the definition of conflict diamonds.

In her first news briefing since her appointment, Ambassador Milovanovic stated on Friday that KP "deals in rough diamonds. That is what it was created for, that is what its mandate is," giving hope to the diamond industry that has been critical of changes to the rough diamond oversight scheme.

"This week, I had the privilege of meeting with NGOs and with industry, and I’m beginning to get my feet wet in understanding how this process works.

"We have an ambitious agenda," she said. "The KP decided that it would be looking at reviewing its own goals, its own successes and weaknesses, and that is being done by an ad hoc committee chaired by Botswana. I look forward to working with Botswana (…) on shepherding the conclusions of that committee through."

Responding to a question about how KP can be strengthened, she replied, "The process went through great difficulty determining how to deal with the question of diamond exports from Zimbabwe, given violence and other matters. And this showed that there was a need to look at systems, to look at definitions, to look at ways to ensure that the lessons were drawn, and that the organization could determine best ways to become more efficient and to remain relevant."

In the recent past, the U.S. has been criticized for considering demands by NGOs to incorporate human rights language into the KP, while giving less weight to the diamond industry. The diamond trading centers have been pointing to bodies such as the UN Security Council as far more effective organizations to deal with human rights issues as well as to initiate and coordinate international trade bans.

In this context, Ambassador Milovanovic stated "our contacts with both Global Witness and a number of other NGOs that either – that have, in fact, never even been part of the Kimberley Process, continue. We are in constant touch. We will continue to be speaking with one another, gathering ideas, and conversing. So that is not the end of the discussion."

On other issues on the KP agenda, such as compliance issues, enforcement improvements and administrative workings, Ambassador Milovanovic said, "[W]e will try to get a combination of looking at the core functions and also improving, on a day-to-day basis, the efficacy of the process."

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