KP and Civil Society Lock Horns Over Boycott

140 95 Rapaport News

RAPAPORT…  The Kimberley Process (KP) Civil Society Coalition hit back
against comments by the KP chair criticizing the non-profit alliance for not
engaging with the organization. The association last year boycotted the KP when the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was unveiled as its 2016

The KP has committed to mediation aimed at bringing the coalition back into the
frame, Ahmed Bin Sulayem, the UAE-based KP chair, said at the organization’s
intersessional in Dubai last month.

However, Alan Martin, the “self-appointed leader” of the coalition, withdrew
from mediation even though the UAE agreed to terms imposed by intermediaries at
the World Diamond Council, Bin Sulayem (pictured)
claimed in a speech at the conference.

“Mr. Martin has claimed he is fully operational and on top of his KP duties
despite his absence here today, and also despite his anticipated absence in the
November plenary,” Bin Sulayem said. “To me, an empty chair does not mean
‘fully operational.’”

But the coalition of non-profit organizations (NGOs), in a statement released
Tuesday, said Bin Sulayem’s remarks “indicate a disregard and lack of respect
for the critical role that civil society has played and continues to play in
the KP.”

The approach also puts at stake the “crucial” tripartite structure of the KP –
governments, industry and civil society – and “risks the foundation on which
the KP is built.”

The statement was signed by 14 representatives of Amnesty International, Partnership
Africa Canada (PAC), the Enough Project, Global Witness and other NGOs, mainly
based in Africa.

The coalition at times had been forced to make “strong statements and take
difficult stands” about “failures” by the KP or its participating states, the
statement said.

“Such a stand was taken in 2016, resulting in the difficult decision of the KP
Civil Society Coalition to remain engaged with the work of the KP but not to
support the work of the United Arab Emirates as 2016 chair, in the absence of
meaningful engagement and reform by the UAE,” the signatories said.

“No such reforms have been forthcoming.”

Martin, director of research at PAC, told Rapaport
the coalition presented
four key areas in which the UAE needed to act in order for the
alliance to reconsider its boycott, but did not receive a response by a
deadline earlier this year.

The demands, outlined in a document presented by the coalition in January, were addressing the large gap between the value of the country’s
diamond imports from Africa and their export value; the UAE’s alleged lack of
“cooperation” on enforcement matters; the “absence” of an
“enhanced vigilance system” for diamonds coming from problematic
areas; and the need for genuine engagement with civil society.

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