Appointing UAE as Chair of Kimberley Process is “Red Line”
OTTAWA, Canada, November 17, 2015
Civil society organizations who sit as members of a conflict diamond certification scheme, announced today they will boycott the Kimberley Process in 2016 in response to the upcoming chairmanship of the United Arab Emirates.
The 11 members of the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition called the chairmanship crossing a “red line” due to widespread concerns over UAE’s lenient standards and antagonistic relationship with the Coalition.
“Judging by UAE’s favoured status as the go to place for illicit gold and diamonds, it would appear Dubai is not only a tax-free haven, but an ethics free haven as well,” Jaff Napoleon Bamenjo, the Coalition’s representative from Cameroon told the Kimberley Process members gathered in Angola.
Established in 2003, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme requires participating countries to develop internal controls to ensure that conflict diamonds are excluded from international markets. Each shipment of rough diamonds must be accompanied by a certificate attesting to its conflict-free status. Both the diamond industry and civil society are vital actors in the system that has helped decrease the amount of conflict diamonds on the market, once estimated as high as 25 percent.
The Kimberley Process has a rotating annual chairmanship, with the United Arab Emirates accepted by members for 2016. The UAE is the third largest diamond trading centre in the world, trading approximately $40 billion worth of diamonds in 2014, according to the Dubai Multi-Commodities Centre.
In the last year, repeated concerns have been raised by Partnership Africa Canada, Amnesty International, the United Nations Panel of Experts on the Central African Republic, and others about negligent import controls that allow illicit diamonds from conflict areas such as the Central African Republic to enter the legitimate supply chain.
Concern has also been raised about the undervaluation of diamonds entering the UAE. In 2014, exports of diamonds from Dubai were on average 40 percent higher than their original import values. Despite repeated calls by civil society members to justify the practice of “transfer pricing,” Dubai has stayed silent on the faulty valuations which deprive African diamond producing countries from much needed revenues.
“We have been calling on Dubai to change its harmful diamond trading practices. If they want to be a leader in the Kimberley Process, they need to act like one,” said Alan Martin, Partnership Africa Canada’s Director of Research. “Dubai needs to improve its trade practices, and lead the way on governance issues.”
Over the last year, the Coalition has tried to work with the UAE to address its governance vulnerabilities, improve its antagonistic approach to civil society, and forge a working relationship ahead of its time as chair. However, in recent months, the Coalition came to discover that it lacked a sincere partner in this effort.
“Our Coalition has a long history of collaborating with governments and industry towards our common goal of a clean, conflict-free, traceable supply chain,” said Michel Yoboué, the Coalition’s representative from Côte d’Ivoire. “This is the first time we have faced a KP chair that does not respect the tripartite structure of the Kimberley Process.”
“Today, the other members of the Kimberley Process have sent the message that the input of civil society is no longer valued in this system,” he added.
The Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition will continue to work directly at the national and regional levels to strengthen governance of the supply chain, including in forums outside of the Kimberley Process.
Partnership Africa Canada (PAC)