RAPAPORT… The Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition (CSC) will boycott next year’s Kimberley Process (KP) in response to the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) chairmanship of the organization, it announced in a statement November 17.
The group raised concerns over what it said are the UAE’s “lenient
standards and antagonistic relationship” with the coalition and said a “red
line” had been crossed.
The CSC said it has tried to
work with the UAE to address governance issues and co-operate ahead of the
country’s chairmanship of the KP but said it “came to discover that it lacked a
sincere partner in this effort.”
“Our Coalition has a long
history of collaborating with governments and industry towards our common goal
of a clean, conflict-free, traceable supply chain. This is the first time we
have faced a KP chair that does not respect the tripartite structure of the
Kimberley Process,” said Michel Yoboué, the CSC’s representative from the Ivory
“Judging by UAE’s favored
status as the go-to place for illicit gold and diamonds, it would appear Dubai
is not only a tax-free haven, but an ethics-free haven as well,” CSC’s
Cameroon representative Jaff Napoleon Bamenjo told the KP annual meeting in Luanda,
Angola, November 17, the statement cited.
Concern has been raised about
the “undervaluation” of diamonds entering the UAE, according to the group, which
claims that exports of diamonds from Dubai in 2014 were on average 40 percent
higher than their original import values.
“Despite repeated calls by
civil society members to justify the practice of ‘transfer pricing,’ Dubai has
stayed silent on the faulty valuations which deprive African diamond producing
countries from much needed revenues.”
Ahmed Bin Sulayem, executive
chairman of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), said in an e-mail that
the CSC’s remarks were “baseless” and released copies of electronic
correspondence from June 2015 that he claimed was evidence he had attempted to
co-operate with the CSC.
In a separate statement by the World Diamond Council
November 18, president Edward Asscher said it was important to maintain
dialogue with stakeholders including the CSC.
“We need to engage with the NGOs and embrace their scrutiny
if their criticism of the system is justified,” Asscher said. “We all have
blind spots, but we should never turn a blind eye to their findings. Where they
are justified in their criticism, we should adjust. Where they are wrong, we
should tell them, without any doubt, professionally and openly.”
“We would deeply regret if the Civil Society Coalition would
not attend next year’s intercessional and plenary meetings in Dubai. It is up to the UAE to repair and improve this
relationship, and we think it is the prime task of the UAE to do so before they
take over the chairmanship in 2016,” he added.
Another major concern of the CSC is that the Kimberley
Process Certification Scheme does not specifically address human
rights, Asscher said.
“As the only cross-border, international certification
system for our product embraced by governments, we must take care that the
credibility and functionality of the KP does not diminish,” he asserted.