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Letter dated 13 November 2007 from the Head of Delegation of the European Community to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (A/62/543 and Add. 1)
Draft resolution (A/62/L.XX)

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a real honour to have this opportunity to address you today and to present to the General Assembly a report on the work of the Kimberley Process, and to present the content of the draft resolution A/62/L.XX.

Since the Kimberley Process began in the late 1990s to better co-ordinate the international response to the phenomenon of “conflict diamonds”, we have seen a dramatic turn-around in the security situation in several diamond-producing countries, notably Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Implementation of the Kimberley Process has both contributed to and benefited from this progress in the real world. The only current case of conflict diamonds is that of Côte d’Ivoire, with trade in its diamonds being prohibited by Kimberley Process rules and a Security Council embargo. More rough diamonds than ever before are being handled in accordance with Kimberley Process rules: an estimated 100-250 thousand carats per annum are produced in Côte d’Ivoire compared to total worldwide annual production of 176 million carats. Virtually all diamond producing and trading centres now implement the scheme. This year has seen significant seizures and prosecutions relating to conflict diamonds and smuggling. The Kimberley Process is thus protecting the legitimate diamond industry, which plays a significant part in the economies of many countries, and is thus giving many people chances of a better life.

I would like to highlight two examples from this year of successful partnership in support of the Kimberley Process: Ghana and Liberia.

Last year, in Gaborone, the Kimberley Process agreed a balanced package with Ghana, which was facing criticisms regarding its national implementation. I am now pleased to report considerable improvements. Ghana is implementing a plan of action to control its informal sector supported by additional monitoring, technical assistance provided by the EC, South Africa and United States, and a team led by a past Kimberley Process chair which assessed progress. The diamond industry, represented by the World Diamond Council, has helped to monitor exports. UN experts on Côte d’Ivoire sanctions have welcomed “the cooperation of the Kimberley Process and its efforts to encourage participating States to introduce further improvements in their internal control systems.” They also recognized Ghana’s “remarkable efforts that have enhanced the credibility of its internal control system and its diamond import/export regime.” This year, in Brussels, it was agreed to move to a system of risk-based monitoring of exports. Ghana continues to work on registering informal miners and estimating production levels, with the support of the US, EC and World Diamond Council.

Another good example of Kimberley Process partnership in action is the case of Liberia. Kimberley Process participants and observers, including the USA, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Canada, Sierra Leone and the World Diamond Council, as well as the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), have all worked closely with the Government of Liberia to advise, train and equip the Government Diamond Office and its officials. In March, the Kimberley Process sent its third expert mission to Liberia, in close cooperation with the UN sanctions panel and supported by UNMIL, and found that Liberia did meet Kimberley Process requirements. These findings were reported to the Security Council, which decided on 27 April 2007 to lift the diamond embargo, and Liberia was admitted to the Kimberley Process on 4 May 2007. Various ‘friends of Liberia’ are working with its government to support Kimberley Process implementation. Again, much remains to be done, but we believe this is a real milestone, laying the necessary foundation for diamonds to contribute to prosperity, rather than conflict, in West Africa.

These two success stories continue the positive history of the Kimberley Process. Participants and observers have worked hard during the past year to strengthen the Kimberley Process, and have succeeded in tackling some of the outstanding challenges and in advancing standards, particularly with respect to trading and manufacturing centres.

Let me say a word on participation in the Kimberley Process, the continued interest in which clearly demonstrates its strength and credibility. The scheme has remained open on a global, non-discriminatory basis to all countries and regional economic integration organizations willing and able to fulfil its requirements. In addition to Liberia, we have welcomed Turkey and the Republic of Congo this year. We have worked with applicant countries to ensure they are fully prepared to assume the responsibilities of Kimberley Process participation. Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Mali, Mexico and Tunisia attended the Brussels Plenary and affirmed their intention to join, while Bahrain, Cape Verde, Gabon, Swaziland and Zambia have all expressed an interest in future participation.

Civil society’s involvement has been successfully broadened, with a record number of non-governmental organisations attending Plenary, including many from producer countries. It is to be hoped that this will lead to greater co-operation between governments and civil society at a national level too.

On monitoring, we have made good progress. In the last four years, over fifty on-the-ground inspection visits have been carried out to Kimberley Process participants and applicants, each staffed entirely by volunteers, in a remarkable case of burden-sharing. Although the system of peer review is voluntary, in practice virtually all Participants have demonstrated their openness to scrutiny, and their willingness to improve. The second round of review visits is now launched, with one such visit carried out already, and a number under preparation.

At the beginning of this year, the Kimberley Process publicly released its production and trade statistics for the first time, to increase transparency and allow others to analyse the data. Statistics form an integral part of monitoring, and statistical analyses were prepared for all peer review visits over the past year. The Kimberley Process analysed the 2006 data, identifying a number of human errors, procedures to be corrected, and issues for further work. All Participants submitted the required statistical reports for 2005 and 2006, supported by continuing training opportunities made available by the Canadian government.

We have also seen this past year increasing amounts of technical assistance and training in support of Kimberley Process implementation, and also a willingness to identify where there are needs. Some countries have volunteered to increase their contributions to the Kimberley Process by service in working groups, training or by providing financing. This is a wonderful testimony to the spirit of cooperation among the three segments that constitute the Kimberley Process.

On the technical side, there has been continuing work to identify profiles of diamond production, so that anomalies can be picked up, and we expect further efforts over the medium-term to place diamond identification techniques on a sound scientific basis.

Artisanal alluvial diamond mining accounts for a significant proportion of worldwide diamond production, but controlling it involves particular challenges which are the focus of the working group of artisanal alluvial producers. This group has analysed the situation in each country with artisanal alluvial production, assessing their controls in the light of Kimberley Process recommendations, and considering progress, obstacles encountered and remaining challenges. It plans to develop further efforts on capacity building, traceability and tackling illicit cross-border trade.

With the Brussels Initiative on Diamonds in Côte d’Ivoire, we believe there is a real possibility for the Kimberley Process to support a truly regional approach to diamonds in West Africa. Also in South America, we see promising signs of regional collaboration to address the challenges of controlling diamond production there.

A review of the Kimberley Process, completed in November 2006, concluded that it had been effective in curbing the illicit trade in conflict diamonds, but noted that reforms were needed to adapt to new challenges and increasing demands. Many of those recommendations have been carried out, putting the Kimberley Process on a more solid footing: a compilation of rules and procedures; a new, more transparent website; and the formalisation of two of its working bodies.

At the same time, the Kimberley Process preserves its flexibility to respond pragmatically and appropriately to the different challenges it faces, through diplomatic messages, technical assistance, training, geological, industry or statistical expertise. The Kimberley Process’s innovative model of burden-sharing has fostered a sense of ownership by participants and observers, many of whom have devoted considerable resources to strengthen implementation. Both human and financial resources have been deployed by a great many participants, through the provision of technical assistance, participation in working groups and in peer review teams.

The draft resolution before this Assembly today is not a short one – indeed it has grown to some six pages – which is testament to the many areas of activity in the past year, and those which are planned for next year.

I wish to draw your attention to a technical change, which will be introduced in the final text; the word “participants” will have a capital “P”.

Thanks to the hard work of government, industry and civil society representatives around the world, the Kimberley Process remains one of the most successful and inspirational examples of how to break the link between natural resources and conflict. Although conflict diamonds are currently much reduced, the Kimberley Process is a vital tool of conflict prevention and deterrence.

We wish India, as Chair, and Namibia, as Vice-Chair, every success and assure them of our support, as we express our gratitude for the support of the past Chairs of the Kimberley Process, who have all demonstrated great leadership – South Africa, Canada, the Russian Federation and Botswana.

I must also express my sincere gratitude to all those who have participated in this work over the past year, particularly the Chairs of the working groups and committees, but also all those in government, industry and civil society, who have shown so much dedication in working together.

It remains for me, on behalf of the European Community, to express my heartfelt thanks to the United Nations, which has been a constant source of inspiration, support, expertise and encouragement to do better. We have worked closely with the Sanctions Committees and their experts in the cases of Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia, and look forward to ever broader and deeper co-operation with all the relevant parts of the United Nations system.

Thank you.

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