(Moscow) – November, 2006
Mr Chairman, distinguished guests.
Thank you for the opportunity to address this esteemed gathering on the important issue of public and private sector partnerships in the fight against terrorism.
The threats to security in today’s world do not respect boundaries. The events of 9/11 and subsequent outrages have taught us that neither the world’s largest or smallest states can guarantee absolute safety for their citizens. In addition to the appalling cost in human lives and suffering, it also inflicts damage and widespread disruption on productive, economic activity.
When whole societies and their economies become targets, it is incumbent on all sectors of society to combine their efforts to overcome and prevent such atrocities and that includes the business sector. Through initiatives such as the Kimberley Process, the private sector has demonstrated its willingness and ability to become an essential player in this respect with great responsibility and potential in the areas of conflict prevention and reconstruction.
I speak with some experience on these important issues. I have the honor of being the Chairman of the World Diamond Council, also known as the WDC, an organisation that represents the international diamond industry from mining through to retail. It includes De Beers and Alrosa, both of which have representatives here today.
The WDC was formed to represent the diamond industry in this unique collaboration known as the Kimberley Process, which seeks to eradicate the insidious trade in conflict diamonds and combines the expertise, resources and determination of more than 70 governments, the international diamond industry and non-governmental organisations with a mandate from the United Nations General Assembly.
I bring it to your attention today because I believe that the framework of the Kimberley Process has much to offer as an example of how governments and the private sector can work together effectively to address humanitarian and environmental security problems, particularly in ‘failed states’ and weak government zones.
The World Diamond Council is proud, for example, that the diamond industry has placed its expertise at the disposal of the Governments of Sierra Leone and Liberia to provide essential capacity building support as those countries emerge from conflict. Although these and other conflicts in central and West Africa were and remain, quite rightly, a major concern of the international community, it is important that we all remember, that given good governance, natural resources – particularly precious mineral resources such as diamonds – bring great benefits in terms of economy, employment, education and healthcare to a number of the stable democracies in southern Africa and are also mined here in Russia, in Australia and in Canada. Millions of people around the world depend on diamonds for their livelihoods and over 99% of the world’s diamonds are conflict-free.
Through our experience in the Kimberley Process we have learned that, for these partnerships to be effective, national and international responses to the new security agenda must find the right ways to engage private business as an ally and a partner.
To be viable, any solutions developed must be capable of protecting economies without draining or stifling them in the name of security.
To be legitimate, they must set both business and government activity in the framework of fair and transparent norms.
To succeed, they must take into account the interests of all concerned, respect the fundamental rights of the citizen and avoid the trap of becoming a ‘rich man’s agenda’.
In the strategy paper, circulated prior to this conference, it states that: “Just as governments and businesses co-operate to build prosperity, so they should also combine their efforts to counter terrorism. Such partnerships should be made in a spirit of cooperation and based on the respective roles, responsibilities and interests of the partners”.
Although there is little evidence to suggest that conflict diamonds have funded international terrorism, we acknowledge that diamonds are especially vulnerable to such abuse and regard the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme as our primary safeguard against such activities.
On the subject of partnerships, the Kimberley Process is indeed “a spirit of cooperation and based on the respective roles, responsibilities and interests of the partners”. The combination of interested governments, with the participation of a global industry and civil society, provides ownership and demands responsibility and accountability for each of these sectors.
It also provides the opportunity to address a specific problem that has regional origins, but an international effect. For example, the problem in the conflict diamonds issue was valuable natural resources being stolen by rebel groups in Angola, Sierra Leone and Democratic Republic of Congo to fund their murderous activities and then being sold on to international markets through legitimate, mainstream channels of distribution.
In addition to governments, the diamond industry and the NGOs, the fourth player in this framework is the United Nations. There is no doubt that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) endorsement of the Kimberley Process provided the validation required to maintain momentum throughout its development and beyond. UNSC Resolutions are also highly significant in setting the parameters for appropriate engagement and investment with integrity in weak government zones.
The United Nations has stated that the Kimberley Process contributed significantly to the reduction in UNITA’s funding in Angola, effectively admitting that the Process succeeded in doing in three years what the United Nations, and the ‘troika’ that comprised the United States, Russia and Portugal, had failed to achieve in a decade. It would be wrong to suggest that the Kimberley Process alone brought peace to Angola or Sierra Leone, but it undeniably helped to establish the conditions in which other forces for a durable settlement could operate more effectively.
In 2003, Kofi Annan said: “It is time for a fundamental reassessment of how the world body works. We are living through a crisis of the international system, and the emergence of new and non-conventional threats forces us to ask whether the institutions and methods to which we are accustomed are really adequate.”
The Kimberley Process is a new methodology and a relatively new institution that has demonstrated an ability to reconcile swiftly differing and occasionally entrenched positions. The recent Kimberley Process Plenary meeting held in Botswana was an example of this and the benefits of cooperation between the public and private sector.
The 71 governments represented agreed with the WDC and the NGOs that every possible action should be taken to ensure the continuing effectiveness and credibility of the Process. As I said earlier, the Kimberley Process is the primary safeguard of the diamond industry. It is also, I believe, a model for cross-sector collaboration to provide enhanced security to our economies, our business, our communities and our families.
Ladies and gentlemen, the abuse of natural resources enslaves a nation in poverty and instability, and can be a threat to international security. We in the diamond industry believe that the Kimberley Process offers a viable alternative in providing solutions and is worthy of serious consideration as the international community continues its “fundamental reassessment of how the world body works”.