Partnership Africa Canada Commits to Kimberley Process

140 95 Rapaport News

RAPAPORT… Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), a founding member of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KP) civil society coalition, has pledged to stay in the scheme despite the withdrawal of its partner Global Witness last week. PAC warned, however, that its long-term participation is dependent on whether government and industry can implement reforms at the KP in the coming year.

“We are not issuing any ultimatums but if we don’t see at least some modest reforms at the KP a year from now, we would have to reconsider our position,” Alan Martin, research director for PAC told Rapaport News. “We want to see a sincere effort from the KP to reform and industry and participating governments must increase their responsibility in this regard.”

Martin stressed that the group wants to see more initiatives from industry and said he is ready to work with representatives from the World Diamond Council (WDC), which represents industry at the KP, to have them bring proposals to the table.

Global Witness announced its withdrawal from the KP on December 5 charging that the scheme has no interest to implement much needed reforms.

The resignation came a few weeks after the KP civil society coalition met in Brussels and outlined its recommendations to ensure an effective, credible, clean and responsibly managed diamond supply chain. These included widening the definition of conflict diamonds to include respect for human rights.

The coalition outlined the need for an independent review of the KP peer review mechanism to assess the quality and functionality of the review visits, and also called for the inclusion of the cutting and polishing sector in the KP oversight and statistical declaration. “Until the cutting and polishing industry is included in KP oversight, the civil society coalition will work to inform retailers and consumers that there can be no confidence in the KP certification system,” the coalition stated.

The coalition further recommended that the KP adopt clearer language regarding the role of civil society organizations in the KP and proposed various steps required to improve the decision making process at the KP. As long as there is a consensus vote, the coalition stated, civil society and industry must be included in the vote. The two currently have observer status at the KP.

Martin stressed that the withdrawal of Global Witness from the scheme was not surprising and did not mark the end of civil society’s role therein. “We share their frustrations and view the KP’s ability to claim any credibility as clearly false,” he said. “But we feel there is potential for improvement next year and that in moments of crisis such as the KP is currently facing, there is opportunity.”

The coalition added that it will work with the reform process in the year ahead but stressed that it expects to see tangible results by the end of 2012, with clear indicators of success at the mid-year intersessional meeting.

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