The Kimberley Process Chair for the year 2016, Mr. Ahmed Bin Sulayem of UAE addressed the United Nations General Assembly 69th plenary meeting, 71st session on February 2, 2017, presenting a UAE-led draft resolution on “The Role of Diamonds in Fueling Conflict” that incorporates important decisions reached by consensus at the fourteenth Kimberley Process Plenary Meeting held from Nov. 13-17, 2016 in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.
The resolution co-sponsored by 41 countries and adopted by the UN noted that the Kimberley Process Plenary Meeting held in Dubai, welcomed three important proposals made by the KP Chair – the establishment of a Permanent Secretariat for the Kimberley Process; developing a methodology on rough diamond valuation, that will ensure a fair value for the natural resources of producing nations; and the setting up of a multi-donor trust fund for civil society that would facilitate the participation of a wide range of Civil Society in the Process. Australia, which takes over as Kimberley Process Chair in 2017, will oversee the implementation of these proposals during its stewardship.
During his speech, the former KP Chair, Bin Sulayem told the General Assembly, “Representing the governments, the industry and the civil society that are involved in the diamond trade, I was able to visit more than 20 countries – both existing and prospective Kimberley Process members. Our belief is that everything we do in the Kimberley Process must support and direct work that is largely in the developing world. During my chairmanship, I have been proud to represent the officials who regulate the diamond trade in the producing countries. My trip to the Central African Republic, a country that had been excluded from the Kimberley Process, was particularly important in providing assistance to the country in meeting its Kimberley Process requirements, and enabling the resumption of the country’s export of rough diamonds from newly compliant zones.”
Continuing further, Ahmed Bin Sulayem drew the attention of the assembly to the three specific proposals that were made by the UAE as Chair in 2016 during the KP Plenary Meeting, which were reflected in the resolution. He said, “At first the Kimberley Process suffers from a structural deficit, which is the lack of any form of Permanent Secretariat, with professional skills and resources that will outlive the rotation of country Chairs. For example, the Kimberley Process family has worked hard with the Central African Republic authorities to bring back a legitimate diamond industry. But our working groups and teams are all volunteers, working without administrative infrastructure. Ideally, we should have been able to work to a higher standard of speed and effectiveness, but that cannot be done without moving towards a Permanent Secretariat. I am pleased that the UAE proposal to establish a Permanent Secretariat has been welcomed and is included in the draft resolution.”
Secondly, he said, “the participation of the civil society is vital to the success of the Kimberley Process, but many very experienced NGOs are effectively excluded because they lack direct access to the funding to take part. For this reason, the draft resolution welcomes the willingness of the Kimberley Process to further discuss the UAE proposal to establish a multi-donor trust fund or similar mechanisms that would financially support the participation of a wide range of Civil Society in the Process.”
Thirdly, he continued, “undervaluation and overvaluation undermines the accuracy of the information on Kimberley Process certificates. During our chairmanship, we initiated a series of workshops to develop a uniform methodology on the valuation of rough diamonds. Although no consensus has been reached on a detailed proposal, the draft resolution includes elements that a methodology could comprise. The UAE, in its capacity as a member of the Kimberley Process, will continue to explore ways to improve the valuation capability of producing nations so that they are able to obtain the fairest value for their natural resources. We are profoundly grateful that these initiatives have been recognized by the draft resolution and will be discussed further under the incoming Chair.”
The UN also expressed its appreciation to the plenary meeting of the Kimberley Process held in Dubai in November,2016, for welcoming the resumption of participation in the Process by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and its commitment to hosting a review visit not later than 6 months after the resumption of exports in which Ukraine will also be welcomed to participate.
Several nations led by the EU at the UN General Assembly commended the UAE for its work as KP Chair during 2016. A representative of the EU said, “The European Union and its Member States which acts as a single Participant in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) would like in the first place to congratulate the United Arab Emirates for its Chairmanship of the Kimberley Process, and to welcome the results achieved towards strengthening the Kimberley Process and to confront the challenges of the future. The EU welcomes that over the past twelve months the issue of valuation of rough diamonds, in particular the development of a uniform methodology has been treated with high priority. We strongly support the efforts of the KP towards creating fair living conditions for people at the beginning of the diamond pipeline.”
Speaking on behalf of the KP Chair for 2017, an Australian representative said, “Let me begin by expressing Australia’s deep appreciation to the United Arab Emirates for its efforts as Chair of the Kimberley Process in 2016. We thank the UAE for its generous hosting of Kimberley Process meetings and for organizing additional special forum meetings. The CAR monitoring team has undertaken important work in 2016, including through its ongoing efforts to ensure compliance with the KP through designated compliant zones.”
Commending the stewardship of the UAE as KP Chair 2016, an Angolan representative said, “I would like to express my delegation’s appreciation and gratitude to the United Arab Emirates, the outgoing Chair of the Kimberley Process for its distinguished leadership and for its hard work in facilitating and coordinating the negotiations on the draft resolution we will adopt today.”
The climax of the tributes paid to the outgoing chair of the Kimberley Process came from the representative of Botswana, who said, “Let me express our profound gratitude and appreciation to the United Arab Emirates for the able manner in which they conducted the affairs of the KP process during their tenure as chair in 2016. We commend them for their leadership in contributing towards the KP’s ideals, as well as for being part of the KP architecture which strives to transform and reform itself. For us diamonds are a source of life. They bring food to the table; help invest in our children through education and training, as well as promoting human and technical advancement for sustainable development.” The Botswana representative wound up his speech by welcoming the report and noting with satisfaction that the KP continues to make significant strides in regulating trade in rough in diamonds.
The outgoing chair, the United Arab Emirates will continue to play a vital role in the Kimberley Process, and will chair the Committee on Participation and Chairmanship (CPC) in 2017.