Thursday, November 29, 2012

(SUNDAY MAIL ZW) Re-definition of ‘conflict gems’ unlikely: KP chair

Re-definition of ‘conflict gems’ unlikely: KP chair
Sunday, 25 November 2012 00:00
From Brezhnev Malaba in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Ambassador Gillian Milovanovic, the outgoing chair of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), has finally conceded that the re-definition of “conflict diamonds” now appears unlikely.

After attending last week’s inaugural Zimbabwe Diamond Conference, where the international diamond industry finally jumped off the fence and supported calls for the lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe’s Marange gems, Ambassador Milovanovic, who comes from the United States, is moderating her message.

In an interview with JCK, an industry publication, she said the official Kimberley Process definition of “conflict diamond” is unlikely to change at this week’s plenary in Washington DC.
Currently, the KPCS defines conflict diamonds as “rough diamonds used by rebel movements to fight legitimate governments”.

The US is lobbying for a re-definition to “rough diamonds used to finance armed conflict or other situations relating to violence affecting diamond-mining areas”.

Non-Western members of the KPCS diamond watchdog grouping argue that the proposed re-definition is a ploy by powerful nations to bully smaller countries. Ambassador Milovanovic and Western-sponsored non-governmental organisations have all endorsed the new definition of conflict diamonds that will include diamonds produced under violent conditions.



But after discovering that Zimbabwe now enjoys the support and solidarity of the international diamond trade and industry, the KPCS chair now admits that getting that approved this year is a long shot. Approval requires an absolute consensus among all participating countries.
“We are not aiming for that,” Ambassador Milovanovic says.

“We hope to see some progress on the definition, as this can be carried forward under (next year’s) South African chairmanship.”

“The fact that there is a proposal on the table that can be looked at and refined is important movement in the attitude of the Kimberley Process,” she adds.

“What we are looking for is — if not an overt, then a clear recognition that change is needed. I think if we get a recognition that change is inevitable, that is already an achievement.”
She does hope the KP Plenary will approve one long-time goal of reform-ers: an administrative support mecha-nism (ASM). “There are three proposals,” she says.

“Our hope is that someone will be selected so that South Africa will have support from an ASM, and any future discussions will focus on how ade-quately the ASM works rather than on hypothetical concerns.”

She also expects the plenary to look at a recent document that tackles devel-opment in the artisanal mining sector, as well as “technical questions” regard-ing customs definitions and how the KP functions. At the Zimbabwe Diamond Conference, Ambassador Milovanovic and the US government were criticised for the current American sanctions against diamonds from Marange.

But Ambassador Milovanovic says her post has nothing to do with whether her country does or does not have sanctions. “Sanctions are a separate issue from the Kimberley Process,” she says.
“I do hope that the issue of Zimbabwe sanctions does not become an issue (at plenary).”

As Ambassador Milovanovic wraps up her time as chair, she hopes she has increased communication within the group. “We think we have done a lot as far as the website,” she says. “I hope my legacy will be increased dialogue, increased openness.”


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