The EU starts to lead the Kimberley Process

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The European Union has taken over the chairmanship of the Kimberley Process for 2018, a decade after it last directed the initiative. Federica Mogherini, who is an Italian politician and the High Representative of the bloc for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, will be heading the operation.

Kimberley is a process started in 2003 following the United Nations General Assembly’s Resolution 55/56. It is aimed at removing conflict diamonds from the global supply chain, which means that participants have to go through a certification scheme that ensures that their diamond purchases are not financing violence by rebel movements aiming at undermining legitimate governments.

In detail, the scheme puts in place internal controls over production and trade. Participating states can only legally trade with other participating states who have also met the minimum requirements of the program, and international shipments of rough diamonds must be accompanied by a certificate guaranteeing that they are conflict-free.

The system is not flawless, though. It has received criticisms, particularly following several media investigations on the different ways countries elude its rules, which led to human rights watchdog group Global Witness to leave the project in 2011.

The EU was the process’ last year’s vice-chair, while Australia was heading the body. As the group now moves to the top, India becomes 2018’s vice-chair and next year’s driving force.

When the union’s new role was announced back in 2016, Mogherini said that being an active member of the Kimberley Process reassures the EU’s commitment to sustainable peace. “It is part of our work for human rights – to make sure that diamonds produce wealth, not modern slavery.”

Mogherini also highlighted the importance of making sure that natural resources’ ownership remains within communities. “The main strength of the Kimberley Process has always been that it looks beyond governments, to civil society and to the private sector. This is our main asset as we chart the way ahead,” she said.

The 54 participants that represent 81 countries in the Kimberley Process and who are in charge of more than 99% of the global rough diamond production and trade, will hold their first 2018 intercessional meeting in June in Antwerp. Later on, a plenary meeting will be held in Brussels in November.

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