Esteemed Fellow Panellists,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I wish to express my sincere appreciation to the Egmont Institute and the Antwerp World Diamond Council for hosting this auspicious event, and for the invitation extended to me to join this illustrious Panel on the Kimberly Process this morning. This is quite a timely seminar, in view of the Kimberly Process Plenary Meeting held last month in Washington.
The Kimberley Process has certainly come a long way from that first meeting between Southern African diamond-producing states in Kimberley, held during May 2000. These states, including South Africa, collectively identified the need to address the increase of illegal trade in diamonds as means of funding war and instability in the region.
From that seminal meeting, we now have a truly global scheme that encourages cooperation amongst 54 Participants representing 80 nations. Institutionally, the Process has evolved to include the annual Plenary sessions, and the Working Groups on Diamond Experts, on Monitoring, on Statistics and on Artisanal Alluvial Producers. The work that is being done in these platforms highlights the progress that has been achieved through the ongoing dialogue afforded by the Kimberly Process. Consequently, the mechanism has become a critical element of ensuring transparency, and adherence to international standards by the sector.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As you are aware, South Africa was elected as the Chairman of the Kimberly Process at the Washington Plenary Meeting. We are profoundly honoured by this vote of confidence and are also conscious of the responsibility, as well as the expectations of stakeholders in this regard. We take over the Presidency as the Kimberley Process looks to mark 10 years of implementation of the certification scheme in 2013. This is not just symbolic, but will present an opportunity to undertake a thorough assessment of the progress made in the past decade, including areas that need to be strengthened going forward.
In this context, South Africa is approaching the Presidency informed by amongst others, three overall principles. Firstly, South Africa believes that the Kimberly Process should remain effective and credible. This challenges all the parties to continue working to strengthen the implementation of the monitoring, evaluation, compliance and transparency provisions. Credibility can only be maintained if all parties (governments, private sector, civil society) continue to adhere fully to the agreed upon provisions on these issues.
Maintaining and strengthening credibility and integrity, will also assist to ensure that there is no proliferation of similar schemes in the market. South Africa is convinced that the market does not need such additional schemes as this would cause unnecessary duplications and place an unjustified burden on producer countries. The visibility and credibility of the current international participation of the scheme is proof that we are doing something right. Moving forward, we should focus on strengthening the scheme and making the mechanism effective. In this regard, we welcome the Washington Plenary decision to mandate the Working Group on Monitoring to look at measures that can be taken to improve the assessment mechanism. South Africa will follow up on this work as part of its Presidency.
As part of reinforcing the KP’s Peer Review System, South Africa, Liberia, Togo, Armenia, Guyana, Vietnam and the Russian Federation have submitted invitations to the Working Group on Monitoring for a review visit on their certification systems.
Secondly, the Kimberley Process should promote constructive dialogue and cooperation. It is one of the unique arrangements in the multilateral system that provides a platform for engaging diverse parties in meaningful dialogue and positive action to meet standards. We should preserve and safeguard the tripartite and multilateral character of the Kimberly Process.
The third principle is the developmental character of the Kimberly Process. In this regard, we want to strengthen cooperation amongst the participants with a view to assisting producer countries to meet the requirements. The ongoing efforts by countries such as Côte d’Ivoire to ensure compliance with KPCS minimum standards have to be supported, in view of the developmental imperatives in these countries. In this regard, South Africa welcomes the observer status granted to the Association of African Diamond Producing Countries (ADPA). It presents an opportunity for strengthened dialogue and possible cooperation.
Finally, South Africa’s Chairmanship will be marked by continuity in the work underway, and a sincere effort to facilitate dialogue with regards to concerns within the framework of the Kimberly Process. In this regard all parties should engage in a positive and constructive manner with the processes outlined in the Washington Declaration.
I look to further similar engagements with you as South Africa readies itself to take over the Chairpersonship of the Kimberly Process.
I thank you for your kind attention.