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Parliamentary questions
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21 September 2010
Answer given by High Representative/Vice-President Ashton on behalf of the Commission
Question reference: E-6492/2010

The Kimberley Process (KP) Certification Scheme started in 2003 and introduced, as part of its requirements, minimum transparency standards for diamond production and trade, at a time when such data was still considered a state secret in certain countries. The Kimberley Process gradually collected data from major diamond producing, manufacturing and trading countries, and verified implementation of the statistical transparency standards with the setting up of a dedicated Working Group on Statistics then chaired by Canada, and now by the United States.

In November 2006, the KP Gaborone Plenary endorsed the concept of transparency in statistical reporting and global statistics were released publicly for the first time in 2007 and posted on the KP website. The KP also decided to publish the names of participants failing to submit statistics. Compliance with statistical requirements has gradually improved and, in 2009, all Participants have submitted the required data. The intensity of the KP monitoring of statistical data has gradually been enhanced with peer review visits verifying the consistency of statistical data and with the support of statisticians from certain member-countries, including the European Union. The KP has thus developed a remarkable capacity for statistical data gathering and analysis and has established new transparency standards for the world diamond industry, thereby encouraging the transparent management of the diamond industry.

As regards the alleged weaknesses exposed by Human Rights Watch, referred to by the Honourable Member, these have been the subject of much debate in the Kimberley Process. The EU recognises that the KP is facing new challenges and is committed to further strengthen it and ensure more effective implementation of its requirements.

The KP’s mandate, firstly, continues to focus on conflict diamonds, as agreed with the United Nations upon its creation. Proposals from certain Observers to broaden the KP mandate to human rights proved controversial and could not garner consensus. For its part, the EU has consistently taken the view that a well-focused mandate is necessary for the KP to remain effective, but agrees that KP implementation cannot be accompanied by human rights violations and that the KP’s relation with human rights should be clarified. The KP has in fact recognised the necessity to take steps to prevent diamond mining from being tainted by violence, as illustrated by its actions in Zimbabwe.

As regards the second alleged weakness, the EU has played a key role, as Chair of the KP’s Monitoring Working Group, in developing the KP’s capacity to ensure independent monitoring of compliance, and notes that the KP’s Peer Review System uniquely brings together expertise from governments, industry and civil society to independently assess its members’ compliance. The KP generally follows a constructive approach and review visits make recommendations to improve compliance as and when needed, but the KP has also proved its determination to confront indications of serious non-compliance, as illustrated lately by the suspension of Zimbabwe’s Marange exports. Moreover, penalties for specific violations are to be imposed under national regulations.

Thirdly, the EU considers that, though it could at times seem to be delaying or weakening decisions, the KP’s consensual decision-making has, in general, enabled the KP to bring together constructively divergent views and interests around a common objective and ensured that all KP members feel ‘ownership’ of decisions and are committed to implement them. The EU therefore takes the view that, on balance, the current consensual decision-making has proved its effectiveness and is democratic, since it takes into consideration the positions of all KP members.

Furthermore, the EU has drawn attention to certain issues that should receive priority attention in order to strengthen the KP in the years ahead, such as in particular the need to enhance the institutional and administrative capacity of KP members to implement increasingly sophisticated standards, and the development of cooperation on enforcement.

OJ C 216 E, 22/07/2011
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