NGO Hopes for Action During Kimberley Process Plenary

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RAPAPORT… Few surprises are expected at the annual Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KP) plenary meeting which starts in Brussels Monday (November 5,) with structural issues and Cote d’Ivoire expected to dominate the discussions.

“It’s the fifth anniversary of the KP this year and there are a number of issues we have been lobbying on for a long time,” said Annie Dunnebacke, a campaigner for NGO Global Witness. “We would like them to make a real statement and require stronger government controls throughout the diamond pipeline.”

One KP source said the four day meeting would be split between structural and specific country issues.

Structurally, the KP’s reform agenda will likely dominate discussions, including implementing a previously conducted review of the KP’s function, whereby 50 recommendations still need to be improved upon, the source said.

Also on the agenda will be the launch of a second round of KP review visits, following the completion of the first round — barring one or two members. There will be further discussion about the transparency of statistics, increasing representation of civil society –particularly from producer countries– and the use of science and technology to strengthen compliance with KP rules, the KP said in a statement.

Global Witness’ Dunnebacke said she would like to see an emphasis on how to strengthen controls in alluvial mining countries, and trading and manufacturing centers.

These include the main centers in the United States, Israel, Belgium and India, where “some are showing encouraging signs,” but stricter controls need to be implemented.

Dunnebacke added that Global Witness has been pushing for greater pressure to be placed on Venezuela, whose disinterest has garnered a “disappointing response from the KP.”

“We are concerned about the message this is sending to the international community,” Dunnebacke said. “We would like to see more of a willingness and capacity for the KP to conduct its own research and react to the media.”

On this, Dunnebacke recognized the lack of a sustainable funding mechanism to embark on such projects which “jeopardizes its ability to function effectively.”

While Venezuela will be on the meeting agenda (and, as of press time, was expected to send a representative to the plenary)  the KP source rejected calls to expel the country, and said it was looking to work more closely with Venezuela to ensure its compliance. Earlier this year, Venezuela presented its diamond statistics and recently presented its annual report in time for the meeting, but pressure will likely be placed on the country to invite the KP for a review visit.

KP has put a greater emphasis on Cote d’Ivoire at the plenary, ‘the one remaining case of conflict diamonds,’ to develop an action plan and approach, to initiate a dialogue “that could prepare for its eventual admission to the process,” the source said.

Other countries expected to provide updates on their diamond-related developments include Liberia, Zimbabwe, and Ghana.

The plenary marks the end of the European Commission’s tenure as chairman as well as the beginning of India’s. It will also see the election of a new vice chairman which will take over from India in 2009. While no official candidate has yet been forwarded, rumors in the industry point to Angola taking the post.

While Angola’s own implementation of the KP has raised questions recently, the election process is also expected to spark debate and review.

“We would like to see a system in place which would prevent the election of a non-suitable chairman,” Dunnebacke said. “We are hopeful that India will take things on board and move forward in the new term.”

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