• Joined by the Central African Republic’s Minister of Mines, Mr. Ahmed Bin Sulayem discussed the UAE Chairmanship’s proposals to establish a KP Permanent Secretariat in the UN and a Common Fund for NGOs
• Representatives from civil society groups expressed their strong endorsement to the UAE KP Chair’s initiatives
Joined by Leopold Mboli Fratran, Minister of Mines from the Central African Republic, the UAE Kimberley Process Chair, Ahmed Bin Sulayem, has held discussions with civil society organisations and African experts on the diamond industry at the annual KP Plenary taking place in Dubai from November 13 – 17. The meetings fall on the back of the announcement that the KP Chair will contribute US$ 25,000 – an amount that will potentially be matched by the Australian KP Vice-Chair – as part of a proposed US$ 105,000 Common Fund for NGOs affiliated with the KP.
Despite the KP’s Civil Society Coalition (CSC) upholding their boycott of the Plenary meeting, independent NGOs and experts from Africa held discussions with Mr. Bin Sulayem due to the innovative proposals and remediation efforts of the UAE KP Chair over the past year. Among the participants from the Central African Republic were Placide Ngombe, President of the Organisation Centrafricaine pour le Développement Durable, an organisation focused on sustainable development; Regina Toguera, President of ‘Mines Arts et Ressources Centrafricaines’ (MARCA) and a member of the KP Follow-Up Committee in Berberati – one of the zones in CAR recently made complaint for exports; and Ruth Laoubaï, Head of Programmes and Projects at the Association des Femmes Centrafricaines pour le Développement Durable (AFCADD). Also in attendance were Dr. Oladiran Bello, Executive Director of Good Governance Africa; as well as Albert Kabuya Muyeba, a former KP focal point from the largest non-governmental organisation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since 2004 who is currently serving a 15 day-long suspension from his current position at CENADEP.
“The attendance of these individuals from civil society organisations in Africa is the strongest endorsement yet of the progress the UAE has made as KP Chair in the past year,” said Mr. Bin Sulayem. “We are pleased to hear from these representatives how our continued work is met with great appreciation from the African people who are most affected by the KP, especially the families of artisanal miners. It is also encouraging to know that they have chosen to engage the broader KP community to have productive discussions, and have voiced their strong support for the initiatives we have proposed that are focused on establishing the UN Permanent Secretariat and the Common Fund for NGOs. This strong support we have received from the civil society representatives is reassuring; we are indeed on the right path to level the playing field between importing and exporting countries and ensure that African people receive their fair share from diamond production.”
The meetings focused on the UAE KP Chair’s proposals this year to establish a Permanent Secretariat in the UN, primarily directed at given the initiative greater structure when bringing countries back into the process; and around the establishment of a Common Fund for NGOs in the KP. The latter would enhance transparency and provide the civil society organisations the resources to more actively participate in KP events. At the opening session of the Plenary, the UAE KP Chair announced that it will contribute US$ 25,000 towards the establishment of this Fund, with Australia - the KP Vice Chair - looking to potentially match this amount. Mr. Bin Sulayem has also called on the rest of the industry to contribute another US$ 55,000 to create a total Fund of US$ 105,000.
Speaking during the meeting, Mr. Leopold Mboli Fratran, CAR’s Minister of Mines, said: “On behalf of the CAR government, I would like to extend my appreciation to the restless efforts undertaken by the UAE KP Chair since the beginning of 2016. Not only is UAE KP Chair the first KP Chair to ever visit the CAR but his approach focused on understanding the challenges affecting the African nations and most importantly, the livelihoods of miners and their families. Thanks to his determination to help the people of the CAR, we have welcomed the announcement of four compliant zones for export thus bringing hope to the long-suffering diamond industry in the country. Currently, the traceability of diamonds from the first source of extraction in the CAR is unmatched across Africa but we know this is an ongoing and long process. Therefore, we would like to commend these continued efforts as well as the proposed initiatives around the establishment of the UN Permanent Secretariat and the Independent Fund for NGOs. We consider these to be steps in the right direction and we look forward to collaborating further with Mr. Bin Sulayem and the KP community to ensure greater compliance with the KP as to halt the illicit diamond trade.”
Mr. Bin Sulayem added: “Through these meetings with African officials and civil society, we continue to focus on giving Africa a voice to speak for the interests of its people. This enables the KP community to make informed decisions on how to further strengthen the KP mandate and contribute to the sustainability of source markets across the supply chain. We strongly believe that genuine progress in these areas is realistic – and that by working together we can put these structures into place to make the KP’s framework far more robust.”
“We would like to encourage the Civil Society Coalition to take the lead of their peers to re-engage in discussions as we continue to have an open door policy to their participation and strongly believe that the KP is strongest when it lives up to its collaborative tripartite structure”, concluded Mr. Bin Sulayem.