WDC President Stephane Fischler Outlines Focal Points in Forthcoming KP Intersessional in Mumbai
The Kimberly Process (KP) Intersessional for 2019 is scheduled to be held in Mumbai from June 17-21 this year.
Ahead of the meeting, Stephane Fischler, President of the World Diamond Council (WDC) has outlined his thoughts in a blog on the WDC website, about some of the agenda points that will be taken up at this important event. With India being the Chair of KP this year, both the Intersessional, and later, the Plenary, will be held in India – the latter to take place in Delhi in November.
Both meetings, Fischler notes, “will focus largely on the KP review and reform process, currently in its third and final year”.
“Decisions that are taken over the next six months, as part of the review and reform process, will reverberate for years to come and impact lives and livelihoods all the way up and down the diamond value chain,” he underlines.
Fischler adds: “It is that chain that I would like to focus upon. There are few business sectors with the same degree of interdependence as exists among the various players along its length. Each cannot operate without the other, meaning that every member has the ability to both facilitate and disrupt the entire system.”
However, the WDC President goes on to point out, the degree of impact of decisions, varies for different segments of the diamond pipeline – “the stakes are not equally high along the value chain”, he says.
“While in many of the mining regions and in a number of the processing centres diamonds are a primary source of income and community development, in the countries where polished diamond jewellery is predominantly sold, they are considered non-essential products, in a luxury marketplace where there are numerous alternatives,” Fischler says succinctly summing up the dichotomy inherent in the value chain.
Noting that while diamonds have remained desirable and “over a remarkably long period of time”, he cautions that should the consumers’ confidence in the gem be shaken, the very same consumers might well choose to spend their disposable income on other available options like electronics, holiday travel or some other luxury item.
“It puzzles me, therefore, that the KP participants advocating the most stringent standards of supply chain integrity are not those with the highest degree of risk, while being among the greatest potential beneficiaries of increased revenues from their diamond resources,” he states. “That said, we must appreciate the natural sense of discomfort felt by some participants of being lectured to by those who, in the past, had colonised their lands and lives. But that cannot discount the fact that we all are interdependent, and to dismiss the concerns of consuming nations is not only non-productive, but is likely to be counter-productive as well.”
The intermediary segments – diamond and jewellery manufacturing – connecting the mining sector to the consuming markets, he says, “are acutely aware of the pressures under which both operate”, and hence “are convinced that all of our interests converge by enabling and then demonstrating the nation-building capacity of natural diamonds, especially in countries where artisanal and small-scale mining are dominant”.
For this very reason, Fischler notes, the new WDC System of Warranties “expressly references human and labour rights, anti-money laundering and anti-corruption”; and this is also the reason WDC advocates – together with civil society – that, as part of the KP reform process, the definition of “conflict diamonds” should be expanded to include all forms of systemic violence.
Now, all stakeholders in the diamond industry remain tuned in to the important discussions to commence on June 17, 2019.