The Kimberley Process Plenary Meet commenced at the national capital, New Delhi today. The five-day meet which starts today, ends on Friday, November 22, 2019.
KPCS is an international mechanism mandated by UN to reduce the flow of conflict diamonds which were being used to finance wars against legitimate governments. KP has 55 Participants, representing 82 countries, with the European Union represented collectively.
Mr. B B Swain, KP Chair and Additional Secretary, while addressing the august gathering said, “India, as Kimberley Process Chair, is honoured & privileged to organize the 2019 - Kimberley Process Plenary Meeting in New Delhi - a city which is of great historical significance, an important commercial, transport, and cultural hub, as well as the political centre of India.
India is one of the founding members of Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) and is the KP Chair for 2019. This is the 2ndtime since 2008 that India has been entrusted with the responsibility and honour of being KP Chair. I sincerely thank you all for reposing faith and trust in India.
Since the launch in 2003, the Kimberley Process has contributed towards peace, security and prosperity. 2019 marks the sixteenth year of KPCS and we see KP as a unique family which brings together governments, industry and the civil society coalition through its tripartite structure. As KP Chair, we are committed to keep this family together, and to take its mandate forward through inclusive, deliberative and consensus-based decision-making approach.”
Commenting about the Indian gems and jewellery sector, he said, “India is the largest manufacturing centre of cut and polished diamonds. Being a major importer of rough diamonds, India has a unique position in between the producers of rough diamonds on one side and the consumers of cut & polished diamonds on the other.”
“The importance of KPCS is immense to India as more than a million people are directly employed by the industry. The diamond industry plays a pivotal role in sustaining livelihoods of these million people and we look forward that in the future, the industry would grow to bring the sparkle of prosperity to many more.
India sees the industry as a key stakeholder and driver in its quest to emerge as USD 5 trillion economy and generating gainful employment to its teeming young population. The industry has immense potential to usher in prosperity to communities. India seeks to realise the same through sustainable grassroots-based initiatives like the successful Common Facility Centres scheme which was showcased in the Mumbai intersessional.”
Commenting about the laboratory grown diamonds, he said, “India has always been in the forefront of identifying critical challenges of the industry and addressing the same through appropriate solutions by engaging pro-actively with the entire spectrum of stakeholders. As you may be aware, India is one of the early adopters of distinct HS Codes for both rough and polished synthetic diamonds. Henceforth, all unworked or simply sawn or roughly shaped laboratory-created or laboratory-grown or manmade or cultured or synthetic diamonds will be covered by HS Code 7104.2010.”
About India’s role as KPChair, he said, “India is aware that we stand at the threshold of the current review cycle and is sensitive to all the critical issues and challenges that confront KP including the discussions on strengthening of scope, challenges faced by artisanal mining as well as key decisions that are awaited on the issues of Permanent Secretariat, Multi Donor Fund and Peer Review. As KP Chair, India is committed to facilitate the deliberations on all the issues and look forward to valuable contributions from all the KP participants and observers.”
Mr Anup Wadhawan, Commerce Secretary, said, “India, as a founding member of Kimberley Process, has been actively involved in the development of KP as an important protocol in trade of diamonds which has ensured that 99.8% of the diamonds in the world are conflict free. We need to keep KP efficient and effective as a process to maintain this conflict diamond free status. We are committed to make this process stronger in terms of further strengthened administration and implementation, efficient in terms of delivery of what it promises, more transparent and empathetic towards the living standards of people who are dependent on the production, trade and manufacture of diamonds.”
He further added, that, “Currently, India exports approx. USD 24 billion cut & polished diamonds. It is our focus to reach an export target of USD 1 trillion in coming years. We are sure that the gems and jewellery sector and particularly the cut & polished diamonds will contribute significantly to achieve this target.”
On India’s role as KP Chair, he added,“India is sensitive to the issues and challenges of Artisanal & small scale mining and acknowledges the contribution made by the KP members, Observers and agencies for their upliftment. We need to continue supporting Artisanal & small scale mining countries with the capacity building, technical assistance and education on valuation, differentiation between Natural and Lab Grown diamonds, importance of legal and formal mining practices.”
Mr Stephan Fischler, President, World Diamond Council, said, “I strongly believe that the future of this remarkable enterprise, the Kimberley Process, will be determined by the decisions taken by you, member countries, and possibly those that will not be taken during this week in New Delhi. Lives and livelihoods of individuals who rely on the work that we do together will be impacted by both your actions and inaction.
There are a number of proposed amendments to the KPCS core document, some more substantial and others more conservative. The WDC has been candid in what we would like to see happen, and it is that the conflict diamonds definition incorporates all of the most severe instances of violence, whether they be carried out by rebel forces, private or state-run security forces, or criminal elements.”
Mr Fischler further emphasized that, “KP’s role is not to be a sanctions-imposing body. It is rather the operator of a system that prevents violence, supports conflict resolution and facilitates capacity-building in the mining areas, while maintaining and growing consumer confidence in diamonds. We need to do all that we can to avoid a situation by which alternative chains of distribution are created.”
Mr Shamiso Mtsi, Co-ordinator, KP Civil Society Coalition, said, “KP cannot claim to stop conflict diamonds and issue certificates that guarantee the conflict-free provenance of stones without defining what conflict is. It cannot claim to be a conflict prevention tool without adequate measures to stop diamonds from funding violence and conflict. Today, it is failing to do this, and thereby, it is open to abuse by those seeking to lubricate all kinds of illicit, violent and criminal operations. So, any participating state that still seeks to obstruct discussions during this make or break moment for the KP, is not just escaping its responsibilities. It is wilfully seeking to keep in place this self-destructive loophole of the KP. They will be held accountable for that. Our proposals to make the KP work are straightforward. The bottom bar should be stopping major cases of serious violence across rough diamond supply chains, irrespective of the perpetrator or context in which these occur.”
Mr Mtsi, further said, “The Civil Society Coalition looks forward to robust debates that lead to clear and ambitious outcomes. We have all been doing a lot of talking the past years, now is the time for bold decision-making.”