RvdL Pref1

Ronnie VanderLinden

IDMA President

The KP needs to do better

October 14, 2022 – While we are all preparing for what promises to be an exciting holiday sales season for diamonds and diamond jewelry, our industry will also be looking at how our industry, from mining to the sales of polished diamonds, is adjusting itself to doing business in the “Next Normal.”

If you’ve received and read earlier editions of WINC, you’ll have noticed how important we deem the work of the World Diamond Council (WDC), which is headed by Edward Asscher, who is also a past IDMA president.

On the UN-recognized International Day of Peace a few weeks ago, the WDC launched its upgraded System of Warranties (SoW). Since long, WDC’s SoW has been the industry-applied mechanism that links rough and polished diamonds to the Kimberley Process Certification System (KPCS) and the KP certificate with which they originally were associated each time the stones change hands.

But in the new version of the SoW, the WDC included a revised declaration to be added to the sales document, which not only states that the diamonds are compliant with the KPCS but that they also meet the standards of the WDC System of Warranties Guidelines, which require that they were handled in accordance with universally accepted human and labor rights, and according to global anti-corruption and anti-money laundering principles.

I encourage you all to visit the SoW website https://www.wdcsow.org/ and fill out the Self Assessment form.

The WDC’s timing for releasing the new SoW was by no means accidental. It was the uptick toward the discussions that will take place next month during the Plenary of the KP in Moscow. There, the WDC will take the lead in urging the entire KP membership to recognize and accept that the definition of conflict diamonds does no longer reflect the reality on the ground in those – predominantly African – diamond mining countries where the human rights of artisanal diamond miners and their communities are systematically violated, resulting in unacceptable hardship and loss of life. None of the parties in the diamond supply pipeline should be willing to overlook and accept that our product, which for centuries has been a symbol of love, commitment, and all that is beautiful in life, is the direct and indisputable cause of human suffering.

The current KP Chair, the Russian Federation, will host the upcoming KP Plenary. As you may recall, the KP extended Russia’s mandate as Chair into 2021 as in the previous year, all KP- related activities were suspended by consensus. The KP Plenary meeting will occur November 8-12 in a hybrid format.

With the presentation of the WDC’s new SoW’s, the WDC will once again call upon all governments represented at the KP to follow through on expanding the definition of conflict diamonds to “diamond-related violence in rough diamond producing and trading areas.” It’s as simple as that.

Suppose the KP will not ratify this change. In that case, it will endanger its existence and that of our industry and trade, consequently jeopardizing the economic future of millions worldwide. Mind you, the KP is already regarded as a bulky, lethargic, and ineffective bureaucratic body. If the KP does not come to its senses, the consumer in this “Next Normal” era will make short shrift of our industry and move to other products in the luxury market. That is a frightening prospect.

In closing, I am confident that the world’s two leading diamond producers, KP Chair Russia and the incoming KP Chair, Botswana, will do everything possible to make progress at the upcoming Plenary. I, for sure, will cheer them on.

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