The General Assembly today encouraged further strengthening the global diamond certification scheme known as the Kimberley Process to make it more effective and to ensure that it remains relevant in the future while also contributing to international peace and security and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Adopting by consensus its annual resolution on breaking the link between armed conflict and the illicit trade of rough diamonds (document A/74/L.39), the Assembly welcomed efforts made to strengthen the Process, including ongoing discussions on a definition of conflict diamonds, the importance of capacity‑building and mutual support, and the positive contribution that rough diamonds can make to prosperity and socioeconomic development.
Taking note of the outcomes of the most recent plenary meeting of the Process, held in New Delhi, India, from 18 to 22 November 2019, the Assembly recognized the scheme’s contribution to ensuring the effective implementation of Security Council sanctions and to preventing future diamond-fuelled conflicts, and called for the full implementation of existing Council measures targeting the illicit trade in rough diamonds.
It also recalled the central role of mining communities in the Process and the need to devote attention to engaging artisanal miners in governance structures and developing best practices. It went on to welcome expressions of interest from Austria, Botswana, China, Russian Federation and the United States to host the Kimberley Process permanent secretariat.
The Process, open to all countries, started when Southern African diamond‑producing States met in Kimberley, South Africa, in May 2000, to discuss ways to stop the illicit diamond trade and ensure that purchases of the gemstone were not financing violence by armed movements and their allies seeking to undermine legitimate Governments. In December 2000, the Assembly adopted a landmark resolution supporting the creation of an international certification scheme for rough diamonds.
B. B. Swain, Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce of India, introducing “L.39,”, said that the Process remains an important and unique instrument for conflict prevention. Noting that India was Chair of the Process for 2019, he said the draft is an important step forward — one that contributes to the broader agenda of the Kimberley Process of regional cooperation, which aims to identify the challenges and opportunities involved in enhancing the scheme’s implementation in Central Africa, with an initial focus on Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo, Central African Republic and Cameroon. Both participants and observers in the Process have worked hard to move it forward, he said, adding that its continued success remains an important goal and commitment for India.
Alexey Moiseev, Vice‑Minister for Finance of the Russian Federation, the current Chair of the Process, underscored the role of the Kimberley Process as a platform to facilitate the global market for rough diamonds. The diamond trade is the most regulated trade in raw materials in the world, and every year, more and more countries want to join it. He added that, over the years, expectations among consumers have changed. Today, they want to see transparency, respect for human rights, minimal impact on the environment and guarantees that the diamonds do not finance terrorism. Going forward, he said the Process must strengthen its mandate, not to establish new requirements, but to set new objectives.
Silvio Gonzato of the European Union said the bloc is proud of what the Process has achieved since the certification scheme went into force in 2003. Diamonds belong to the communities who mine them, not to militias, he said, adding that, in many places, the Process has made the difference between war and peace. He expressed regret that consensus on an updated definition of conflict diamonds, while within reach, could not be achieved at the Process’s 2019 plenary. The European Union strongly supports calls for the Process to evolve and adapt to meet future challenges in the global diamond supply chain and to provide assurances that diamonds are not tainted by violence.
The United Arab Emirates’ representative said that the challenges today are not limited to blood diamonds, but rather encompass strengthening the legitimate diamond trade. Recalling that the United Arab Emirates initiated discussion on establishing a permanent secretariat in the Kimberley Process, he said such a body, equipped with requisite professional skills, would improve the work of the Process and support the Chair in achieving the desired goals. The United Arab Emirates will continue to discuss the issue. His Government looked forward to receiving the final version of pertinent World Diamond Council documents and seeing the tool‑kit within the next year.
Mmetla Masire, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security of Botswana, said 99 per cent of the world’s rough diamonds are from legitimate sources, compared to 17 years ago when the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was established. As a founding member, and a co-sponsor of the resolution since its inception, Botswana places a very high premium on the ethical exploitation, sale and trade of rough diamonds, with the sole aim of protecting their integrity and reputation. Diamonds have transformed people’s lives by putting food on every table, sending youth to school and providing free health care for all.
“For Botswana, diamonds have and will always be for development,” he said, stressing that continued use of the Kimberley Process to eliminate illicit and conflict diamonds from the global market is a paramount need. Thus, discussion should continue in the Ad Hoc Committee on Review and Reforms towards consolidating the Core Document, strengthening the peer review mechanisms, establishing the permanent secretariat and multi-donor fund, and widening the scope of the Process. Expressing hope to see the Central African Republic declared a full green zone exporting State, he advocated greater efforts to enhance cooperation and assistance to diamond-producing countries on best practices, capacity-building and compliance with the minimum requirements of the Process. Botswana stands ready to discuss national legislation and institutions, as well as stringent internal and border control, as well as responsible diamond sourcing and mining practices at the next Kimberley Process meetings.
South Africa’s representative expressed her country’s commitment to upholding the integrity and credibility of the Kimberley Process, recalling that South Africa was among the diamond producers that initiated consultations on how to address the problem of conflict diamonds. She called for tackling issues outstanding from the 2016 reform without diverting from the core of the Kimberley Process business. The approach taken by the Ad Hoc Committee allows for open negotiations, whose aim should be to improve the certification scheme. Any deliberation on the changing nature of conflicts must be able to identify the actors in conflict diamonds, the beneficiaries and where these actors are operating. She welcomed that exports of rough diamonds from the Central African Republic have resumed and the terms of reference set for the monitoring team, with the goal of increasing legal exports and maintaining safeguards to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate supply chain.
The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo reiterated his country’s commitment to the Kimberley Process, emphasizing: “If you have never seen war in your own countries, then you cannot fully understand the relevance of the Kimberley Process.” Thanks to the Process, there has been considerable improvement in the Central African Republic and the Congo, where, in the past, armed groups financed their military operations by selling blood diamonds. Today, those sites have been turned into schools and armed groups are unable to export illegal blood diamonds. Former combatants have laid down their weapons and become farmers. The Kimberley Process has helped the Democratic Republic of the Congo build roads. It is at once a trade mechanism and an instrument of war in that it improves income: when the export mechanism respects the responsible supply chain — in the flow of goods and finance — countries benefit. He said that a distinction should be made between fraudulent diamonds and conflict diamonds, as efforts are made to revive the vision of the Process, requesting those member countries return diamonds that lack Kimberley Process certification to the producer countries. “They have not followed the appropriate standards,” he said, underscoring the importance of outwitting the sellers of fraudulent diamonds.
In other business, the Assembly took note of a letter dated 5 February from the Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, addressed to the President of the Assembly, acknowledging receipt of a letter from the Permanent Representative of Ukraine, dated 26 December 2019, informing the President of the Government of Ukraine’s decision to cease its membership in the Committee as of 1 January 2020 (document A/74/690).
Finally, the Assembly appointed Tesfa Alem Seyoum (Eritrea), Gönke Roscher (Germany), Victor Moraru (Republic of Moldova) and Jesús Miranda Hita (Spain) to the Joint Inspection Unit for a five-year term of office beginning on 1 January 2021 and expiring on 31 December 2025. Their candidatures were submitted to the Assembly by its President, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande (Nigeria), following consultations with the President of the Economic and Social Council and the Secretary-General in his capacity as Chair of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (document A/74/673).
At the start of the meeting, the Assembly President drew attention to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) declaration of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern. He urged Assembly participants to stay away from meetings if they feel unwell and to undertake regular preventative measures, such as regular handwashing and cough etiquette.