Statement by Laura G. Ross, Senior Advisor to the Permanent Representative of the U.S. to the 64th Session of the General Assembly, on Agenda Item 12: The Role of Diamonds in Fueling Conflict and Report of the Kimberley to the General Assembly, in Plenary

Laura G. Ross
Senior Advisor 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
December 11, 2009




AS DELIVERED

The United States strongly supports the Kimberley Process. We warmly welcome and look forward to working closely with Israel as it assumes the chair and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as it assumes the vice-chair of the Kimberley Process in 2010.

The governments, industry, and civil society organizations engaged in the Kimberley Process deserve recognition for six years of collective efforts in preventing diamonds from being used to fund conflict.  The Kimberley Process monitored over $39 billion in rough diamond trade in 2008, enabling the international community to work together to help ensure stability in diamond-producing countries and head off potential future conflicts.

The unique multi-stakeholder approach in which governments, the diamond industry, and civil society have worked together in the Kimberley Process to monitor and control the rough diamond trade is now a model for other efforts to combat resource-based conflict.  The Kimberley Process demonstrates that when governments work together with the private sector and civil society organizations, we can ensure that the legitimate trade in diamonds helps countries reduce poverty, promote transparency and economic development, combat smuggling and money laundering, and meet Millennium Development Goals.

We note a number of achievements by the Kimberley Process in 2009, including the establishment of measures for enhanced cooperation on law enforcement and for the sharing of critical Kimberley Process data with the United Nations.  We note that the Kimberley Process continued efforts this year to control illicit diamond flows from Cote d'Ivoire, and we welcome efforts by Liberia to facilitate regional cooperation to address these illicit flows. 

We also welcome progress made regarding increased oversight of exports from Guinea.  The actions related to Guinea underscore the importance of the different bodies of the Kimberley Process working together to address critical issues.  In the Guinea example, three working groups collaborated for many months to analyze trade statistics and other data to reach credible conclusions and identify specific mechanisms to hopefully remedy the problems.

However, notwithstanding these positive developments, the United States has serious concerns about Zimbabwe’s non-compliance with the minimum requirements of the Kimberley Process, particularly related to smuggling and grave violence in and around the Marange diamond fields.  As noted by the report of the Review Mission that traveled to Zimbabwe in late June 2009, “When a Participant fails to fulfill the obligations it has committed itself to and satisfactorily adheres to the minimum requirements for compliance; the objectives of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme are undermined.”

The United States remains strongly committed to the goals and the work of the Kimberley Process.  As a result, we continue to expect full and expeditious implementation of the stringent controls that were agreed to by Zimbabwe during the recent Plenary.  This implementation is needed to address serious non-compliance in Zimbabwe and to help restore the Kimberley Process’ credibility that we acknowledge has been damaged during 2009.  We thus note our serious concerns that Zimbabwe was not willing to reiterate commitment to its own agreements and the integrity of the Kimberley Process through this resolution.  We regret that language reflecting this concern has not been included in the text of this resolution.  Nevertheless the United States joined consensus on this resolution in view of the importance we attach to the Kimberley Process.

Further, we look to Zimbabwe’s neighbors, international trading centers, and the diamond industry to redouble their efforts against illicit diamonds from the Marange region in order to give the decision agreed to by Zimbabwe and the rest of the Kimberley Process a chance to succeed, and to bring the smuggling, violence, and human rights violations there to an end. 

In this light, we welcome the positive efforts of civil society organizations within the Kimberley Process to make more formal the need for the respect for human rights in the administration of Participants’ diamond mining sectors, given that the Kimberley Process itself was created to mitigate such abuses in nations facing conflict or internal strife.

The United States supports donor efforts to provide technical and development assistance to help Kimberley Process participants and candidate countries to strengthen their internal controls.  One of the best ways to promote stability in diamond-producing countries is to foster Kimberley Process Certification Scheme controls at the same time that we support development opportunities for mining communities.

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PRN: 2009/310