KP meeting ends with stalemate on Zimbabwe diamond

KP chair Boaz Hirsh says he will relentlessly pursue an agreement.

The 8th annual plenary meeting of the Kimberley Process (KP) presided over by Israel as chair of the KP was held between at the beginning of November. The meeting was attended by hundreds of delegates representing more than 70 countries, as well as human rights organisations and diamond industry groups.

In spite of intensive efforts by all parties involved, the plenary was not able to reach an agreement regarding the export of diamonds originated in the Marange region of Zimbabwe.

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Considerable differing views among participants have prevented the plenary from reaching a consensus-based conclusion as to whether Zimbabwe has in fact implemented the minimum KP minimum standards in the diamond fields of Marange. As a result, the plenary meeting was adjourned without reaching an agreement on this matter.

KP chair Boaz Hirsch said: "Despite rigorous negotiations, regrettably the KP members were not able to bridge the gaps among them and were unsuccessful in their efforts to reach an agreement regarding the contentious issue of the Marange diamonds. We are, however, committed to reach a consensus that will enable Zimbabwe to restore its diamond exports within the KP framework. Achieving such a consensus is a formidable task, yet it is a task that lies at the heart of the KP. We are too close to fail and will relentlessly continue pursuing an agreement."

In spite of the setback regarding the Marange diamonds, the plenary did acknowledge that the KP should continue evolving in order to maintain its credibility and effectiveness. Accordingly, the plenary adopted significant initiatives designed to streamline the operations of the process.

First among those is a commitment to enhance the cooperation between the KP and the WCO, as coordinated efforts of both establishments are crucial for the global fight against the smuggling of conflict diamonds. Additionally, in order to abate the potential financial damage inflicted by disputes concerning shipments of non-conflict diamonds, a sub-working group on trade facilitation conferred with the authority to advice on the resolution of such disputes was created. Lastly, the Plenary decided to establish an ad-hoc committee tasked with the responsibility to explore measures of enhanced technical support to the KP Chair aimed at facilitating his day-to-day administrative needs.

Hirsch, who also serves as Israel’s chief international trade negotiator, added: "All KP participants have recognised that in order for the process to be able to handle the ever-growing challenges on its doorstep, certain reforms must be implemented. I consider the decisions adopted by the plenary concerning these issues to be a significant step in the right direction".

The plenary welcomed the Democratic Republic of Congo as the incoming chair of 2011.

Speakers during the plenary’s concluding session expressed their highest regards to Hirsch for his immense contribution to the KP during his tenure as chair. The administrative decisions adopted concerning the facilitation of the process are landmark achievements that will serve as Israel’s legacy in the process for years to come.



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