Kimberley Process chairman wants UN involvement in supervising global diamond trade

The chair of the Kimberley Process (KP), organization that regulates the global diamond industry, is calling for a permanent body belonging to or backed by the United Nations to help oversee the trade of precious gems.

The initiative, currently headed by UAE’s Ahmed bin Sulayem, believes that discussing the possibility of installing a Permanent Secretariat under the mandate of the UN at the next meeting, which takes place Nov. 13-17, is a "genuine effort to bring back peace into the KP family in the interest of all stakeholders.”

“We need to jointly address the issue that the KP today lacks a permanent structure able to handle the numerous issues faced by countries that have been prohibited to export." — KP Chair Ahmed bin Sulayem.

His comments comes as a group known as the Civil Society Coalition continues to oppose the UAE taking over the KP chair’s role.

“We need to jointly address the issue that the KP today lacks a permanent structure able to handle the numerous issues faced by countries that have been prohibited to export, and guiding them back to normalization,” bin Sulayem said in an e-mailed statement.

“A well-structured permanent body taking over the work which today is done by volunteers, sometimes under difficult circumstances should resonate with the tri-party system within the KP,” he noted.

The Kimberley Process began in 2000 when African diamond-producing countries met in Kimberley, South Africa, to discuss ways to curb the trade of “blood” or “conflict” diamonds — those mined and sold illegally by rebel groups that use the proceeds to finance movements against established governments.

Such gems helped finance civil wars across Africa in the 1990s and often funded military dictatorships in the continent.

The KP is comprised of governments, businesses, NGOs and public individuals, and it currently counts with the participation of about 80 countries.

Kimberley Process chairman wants UN involvement in supervising global diamond trade

UAE KP Chair Ahmed Bin Sulayem visiting Africa. (Image courtesy of KP)