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KP Plenary Reaches Historic Agreement on Permanent Secretariat, NGO Funding

November 17 2016

Proposals to be approved by United Nations General Assembly by end of 2016

Ahmed Bin Sulayem, the Kimberley Process Chair (KP Chair), brought a close to a historic KP Plenary that took place in Dubai between November 13 and 17. Key participants in the global initiative voted to approve the KP Chair’s ideas to establish a Permanent Secretariat and to set up a common Fund for NGOs. The event was attended by over 300 delegates from around the world including governments, industry and a group of civil society organisations.

Approval for the Permanent Secretariat will see the establishment of a body that is dedicated towards addressing the KP’s current structural challenges. While the KP is effective at removing countries that breach its protocols, it takes a long time to bring them back into the process – depriving these countries of much needed revenue.

“The historic decisions made today will have an enduring impact on the long-term sustainability of the KP and the diamond industry,” said Mr. Bin Sulayem. “We are very proud of the way that the KP family has come together to enact these vital proposals that will lend greater structure and transparency to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. I look forward to working closely with the next KP Chair to ensure these initiatives are implemented efficiently and effectively.”

The proposal to establish a common Fund for NGOs involved in the KP would provide the civil society organisations the resources to more actively participate in annual KP events. The UAE KP Chair announced that it will contribute US$ 25,000 towards the establishment of this Fund, and has called for the rest of the industry to make up the remaining amount in order to create a total Fund of US$ 105,000. Both proposals will go before the UN General Assembly for adoption before the end of the year.

Another key area where the UAE KP Chair made notable progress was in holding an unprecedented series of diamond valuation workshops designed to establish a consensus on a set of generic criteria in this area, which the industry will continue discussing in the months to come. These special forums over the year brought together a range of industry experts, including the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development. The KP family voiced strong support for valuation work done to date, and noted that a consistent methodology, building on training and technical assistance for government officials, would be beneficial to ensure artisanal miners receive fair value for their stones. The incoming 2017 KP Chair, Robert Owen-Jones, has said Australia will continue the work on rough diamond valuation that the UAE started this year.

The Plenary also featured a series of workshops for members of the KP, in addition to presentations on the roadmap to implementing Blockchain technology, which will be further explored in one of the KP working groups next year. A new KP website was also presented, developed by the UAE, which will be launched before the end of the year.

Next year will see Australia take over the role as KP Chair. Mr. Owen-Jones, KP Vice Chair 2016 and KP Chair 2017 said in his closing remarks: “I intend to work closely with the UAE, as the outgoing Chair, and the EU, as the incoming Vice Chair, in a Troika arrangement so I can draw on their wise advise and help.”

Closing remarks were also delivered by Andrey Polyakov, President of the World Diamond Council, who emphasised the positive work that had been done by Mr. Bin Sulayem over the past year under the mandate as UAE KP Chair, particularly around rough diamond valuation.

Although the third pillar of the KP, the Civil Society Coalition, did not attend the Plenary despite repeated calls to join the discussions, five NGOs and industry experts did however attend the KP Plenary, including Albert Kabuya Muyeba, former KP focal point from CENADEP in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a member of the Civil Society Coalition since 2004, and now suspended for fifteen days because he had the courage to stand up for his opinions.

The KP Chair has travelled extensively in Africa this year to keep a hands-on presence on diamond-producing markets and to bring more countries into the fold of the Kimberley Process. In total, Mr. Bin Sulayem visited 14 African countries and focused on understanding the challenges that were faced, and how they could be tackled under the auspices of the KP. His travels inspired the proposals for the Permanent Secretariat and the common NGO Fund.

Mr. Bin Sulayem concluded: “I am proud of the opportunity I have had over the past year to serve my country and to make a meaningful impact on an international level by improving people’s lives in the diamond industry. Future KP Chairs have been given a strong mandate today and my sincere hope is that the work we have accomplished will be carried forward and built upon in the years to come. As an industry and a society, we have the ability – and the responsibility – to engender positive change in the diamond industry and ensure it is delivering fair value across the supply chain.”

Looking ahead, the UAE will play a very active part of the KP, even after the chairmanship ends at this year as it will be chairing the Committee on Participation and Chairmanship (CPC) working group. Mr. Bin Sulayem will also continue to travel to countries involved in the diamond supply chain over the remainder of 2016 in order to actively engage more countries in a constructive dialogue around the KP.