Statement by Greg Nickels, U.S. Senior Advisor to the 65th UN General Assembly, on the Kimberly Process

Greg Nickels, U.S. Senior Advisor to the 65th UN General Assembly
New York, NY
December 16, 2010


Good morning Madam President and Distinguished delegates.

The United States strongly supports the Kimberley Process. We warmly welcome the Democratic Republic of the Congo as it assumes the chair of the Kimberley Process in 2011 and look forward to working closely with it. We also express our gratitude to Israel for being the chair in 2010 and for making important contributions to the long-term future of the Kimberley Process and providing important leadership on the most difficult challenges facing the system, from improving its administration to enhancing enforcement efforts to demonstrating resolve to deal with the most divisive issues.

The Kimberley Process is making tangible progress in breaking the link between illicit transactions of rough diamonds and armed conflict. As we mark the 10th anniversary of the General Assembly adopting its first resolution related to the role of diamonds in fuelling conflict, we strongly believe that further efforts are needed to address this challenge and fully and meaningfully address it in the second decade of the 21st century.

The governments, industry, and civil society organizations engaged in the Kimberley Process deserve recognition for seven years of collective efforts in preventing diamonds from being used to fund conflict. The Kimberley Process furthered these efforts with several noteworthy achievements in 2010, many of which would not have been possible without the tireless work of the Chair. The Kimberley Process devoted significant resources to enhancing enforcement, including the first “Enforcement Seminar” held in June, which was attended by more than 80 experts from current and prospective KP members, from industry, and from civil society organizations. Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire developed the first “national smuggling profiles” for this Seminar, a model that we hope will be followed by all participants. To advance enforcement efforts, the Kimberley Process established formal cooperation with the World Customs Organization, which will add rough diamonds to its select list of products monitored for smuggling.

We welcome the willingness of Kimberley Process members to focus on the evolution of the system. The Plenary decided to further develop a proposal to establish a much-needed administrative staff that can better handle the many technical tasks now expected of the Kimberley Process Chair and other participants. The Plenary also clarified the confidentiality of Kimberley Process documents, a step that should advance greater public awareness of the organization’s work. Two different working groups discussed ways that the Kimberley Process can better incorporate human rights principles, including the critical questions of how these principles can be maximized in artisanal mining areas.

We also welcome the progress made regarding oversight of mining and exports from Guinea. Guinea took laudable steps to implement a 2009 decision, underscoring how important it is that participants move to comply with the Kimberley Process. The role diamonds can play in conflict is nowhere more evident than in West Africa, and we applaud the efforts of West African participants to address their own implementation issues and the concerns raised by trafficking of illicit diamonds from Cote d’Ivoire.

However, notwithstanding these positive developments, the United States continues to have serious concerns on a number of specific issues.

We remain concerned about Zimbabwe’s lack of progress in implementing the minimum requirements of the Kimberley Process with respect to the Marange diamond fields. In particular, we are concerned about the smuggling and violence in and around Marange and Zimbabwe’s willingness to cooperate with the Kimberley Process. As the Review Mission that traveled to Zimbabwe in August 2010 noted, despite some progress, “there is still some way to go to achieve full compliance with the minimum standards of the KPCS in the Marange diamond fields and also for the Government to honor all of the commitments” it has made. Zimbabwe’s achievement of full compliance is in the long-term interests of Zimbabwe and its people and essential at this stage to the integrity of both the Kimberley Process and the international community’s stated commitment to address the issue of diamonds and conflict.

We also encourage Venezuela to take all necessary steps to complete the process of extending its self-suspension and, more importantly, to come back in to Kimberley Process compliance. We call on the Central African Republic to cooperate with the Kimberley Process to monitor reports of activities of rebel movements in its diamond mining areas. Unless all countries are willing to establish and maintain effective internal controls systems, the diamond trade will be vulnerable to abuse by rebel movements and others seeking to engage in illicit trade that can lead to grave violence or corruption.

Finally, the United States calls attention to the role of civil society organizations, local communities, and the diamond industry to addressing the nexus between diamonds and conflict. The commitment of these groups – and the willingness of countries to work with them – remains essential. We need integrated solutions to the development and enforcement challenges that are implicated by the diamond trade, solutions that benefit from the involvement of the private sector and NGOs. We note in particular the work of the Kimberley Process Working Group on Alluvial and Artisanal Production, which has undertaken discussion of such issues as ethical standards in diamond mining. Until diamonds do represent prosperity for those throughout the supply chain, they will continue to be vulnerable to fuelling conflict.

Once again, we thank Israel for its leadership of the Kimberley Process in 2010. Israel set a standard for the commitment needed to identify areas of concern and find practical and meaningful ways to address them. Although many have questioned the functionality of a system with no permanent staff and a Chair with a term of just one year, Israel demonstrated how much can truly be accomplished within this context and leaves the Kimberley Process, indeed the international community, better suited to address the challenges before us.

Thank you.


PRN: 2010/335