Thank you Mr. Chairman for inviting me to this meeting of the World Diamond Council. It is a pleasure for me to join leaders of the global diamond industry and guests from government, civil society and the media and to offer a few remarks in my capacity as Chairman of the Kimberley Process for 2004.
On behalf of all of us, may I first take the opportunity to thank the Government of the United Arab Emirates, Dubai Metals and Commodities Centre and Mr. Tawfique Abdullah for hosting this gathering.
I am pleased to report that the Kimberley Process has made substantial progress in combatting the trade in conflict diamonds. On the basis of a very fruitful meeting in Sun City, South Africa in October, the final dimensions of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme have now been negotiated. Forty-seven Participants, including the European Community, are currently implementing the Scheme covering the vast majority of the global diamond trade. And in promoting the widest possible participation in the scheme, we are in regular contact with a number of other prospective Participants.
Just over a year after the Scheme came into effect, we are already seeing the positive impact of the certification scheme. The scheme has sent a clear signal that governments, industry and civil society expect and require that the global trade in rough diamonds is conducted in an open and transparent manner and through legitimate markets. Participants have seized shipments of rough diamonds lacking Kimberley Process Certificates and smugglers have been prosecuted.
Progress is even clearer in countries that have suffered the effects of conflict diamonds where the Kimberley Process is helping to channel a larger portion of diamonds through official government mechanisms. In Sierra Leone, for instance, since the country’s participation in the certification scheme, exports have grown from $ 26 million in 2001 to $76 million in 2003, while in the DRC exports have increased from $395 million in 2002 to $ 642 in 2003. Authorities in both these countries have explicitly and publicly associated this positive trend with the Kimberley Process.
While the Kimberley Processes has been an important catalyst, much of the progress on combatting conflict diamonds can be attributed to peace agreements concluded Sierra Leone, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia. Some argue that these peace deals mean that the certification scheme is no longer necessary. In our view, however, the certification scheme is as relevant today as when the Kimberley Process was initiated in May 2000.
The certification scheme makes a crucial contribution to the ongoing implementation of fragile peace agreements by denying resources to potential spoilers and strengthening the position of legitimate governments. As these peace agreements take root, the Kimberley Process will remain an important vehicle for preventing the outbreak of future conflicts. In short, the message is this: peace in conflict-diamonds affected countries is a work in progress. And this peace needs the continuing and the unflagging support of the Kimberley Process.
As Nicky Oppenheimer suggested at the last gathering of this kind in Milan in March 2002, “there can be no going back to the days when rebel movements, malicious criminal organisations and individuals were able to become parasites on … industry and, through the lack of simple but effective controls, able to fund their ruinous activities with impunity.”
We have made a substantial investment of political will, time and effort in the Kimberley Process, an investment that is now beginning to pay dividends. Together, governments, industry and civil society, have built a dynamic and productive partnership. It is a partnership that must endure.
We work today on a strong foundation built under the supervision of South Africa and its able Chairman Mr. Abbey Chikane.
We continue to reap the benefits of our close relationship with the diamond industry through the World Diamond Council (WDC) represented by Eli Izhakoff, Cecilia Gardner and Mark Van Bockstael.
And we remain indebted to our colleagues from civil society – in particular Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada – for their efforts in highlighting the horrific effects of conflict diamonds, but also for their positive contributions in designing and implementing the scheme.
The challenges that lay before the Kimberley Process this year — the challenges of implementation — revolve around effective monitoring and the collection of statistics.
At the Kimberley Process Plenary meeting in Sun City, South Africa, on October 29-31, 2003, Participants endorsed a landmark decision on a peer review system consisting of three pillars: 1) the submission of annual reports on national implementation; 2) voluntary review visits to all Participants; and 3) and the deployment of review missions in the event of credible indications of significant non-compliance.
As Chair, Canada is committed to the implementation of this important decision in order to further enhance the credibility of the legitimate diamond industry. The first of these review visits was undertaken in the last few days here in the United Arab Emirates. We are encouraged that nearly half of all Participants have expressed an interest in receiving a voluntary review visits and look forward to hearing from other participants in the near future.
Analysis of statistics on production, import and export for rough diamonds is essential to identifying anomalies that may indicate potential entry points for conflict diamonds into the legitimate trade. The collection of reliable and comparable data from a broad range of producing and trading countries presents considerable challenges. Important progress has been made in recent months, however, and statistics from the majority of Participants are now available to Participants and Observers on the statistics website of the Kimberley Process. The task ahead now is to routinely analyse this data to ensure the effective functioning of the certification scheme.
Canada is determined to build on the progress achieved during South Africa’s stewardship of the Kimberley Process to make 2004 the year of comprehensive implementation. We have full confidence that Russia, under the leadership of Vyacheslav Shtyrov, will bring energy, resources and commitment to ensure the effective implementation of the certification scheme in the subsequent year.
It was four years ago that governments, industry and civil society met and committed themselves to effective measures to break the link between armed conflict and conflict diamonds. Just over one year ago, implementation of this new and innovative certification system began. While we cannot be complacent, I do believe that the Kimberley Process community can take satisfaction from the progress that is being achieved. We are starting to see the signs that the Kimberley Process is indeed addressing the objectives for which it was intended. Moreover, the spirit of dialogue, cooperation and energy between different stakeholders – which has been the driving force of the process – is alive and well.
As we look forward, it will be important for us all to maintain our focus and efforts so that the contributions of the Kimberley Process to human security and the prevention of future conflicts fueled by conflict diamonds is long-term and sustainable.