The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association was appointed chair of the Civil Society Coalition of the Kimberly Process (KP) in a unanimous vote.
Zela is the first African chair of the coalition.
Civil society is a critical part of the KP, being founding members and largely responsible for lobbying in order to improve standards at the grouping.
The appointment comes ahead of the KP Intercessional in June and as the United Nations General Assembly is scheduled to adopt the 2018 resolution on the role of diamonds in fuelling conflict on Wednesday 7 March 2018.
KP chair Hilde Hardeman in January committed to reaching out to the chairs of the KP working bodies to develop a joint work programme informed by a quest for honest diamond trade, ensuring the KP remains fit for purpose in a changing world through reform.
According to the coalition, representatives from nine member organisations from Africa and Europe participated in the meeting, held between February 18 and 24 in Antwerp to reflect on its role in the Kimberley Process and on broader diamond governance.
“The members of the Coalition have unanimously agreed that the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zela) will assume the coordination of the coalition with immediate effect,” the CSC said in a statement.
During this meeting, important points were widely discussed among coalition members and in side-sessions with the current KP chair and the president of the World Diamond Council, including the participation of the coalition in the KP and its operational management subsequent to Impact’s withdrawal. Impact, a Canadian nongovernmental organization that had previously headed the coalition, resigned from the KP in December.
The coalition reaffirmed that its core mandate in both the KP and as it relates to broader diamond governance is to defend the rights of local communities in all countries affected by diamond mining activities.
“The coalition is also greatly concerned by continued human rights violations which include killings, torture, displacements and environmental impacts directly linked to diamond mining activities. Consequently, the coalition is deeply concerned that the KP continues to ignore the human cost of diamond mining and trade,” said the CSC.
“Unfortunately, the concerns raised by civil society, a key pillar of the KP, have been largely ignored by KP participants and industry. It is our hope that the EU as the current KP chair will champion the reform agenda resulting in a widening of the definition of conflict diamonds adapted to local realities.
“We also expect that the EU will continue working to secure and enlarge space for civil society to meaningfully engage within the KP and to be treated seriously and respectfully by other KP members and observers.”
The (KP) is a commitment to remove conflict diamonds from the global supply chain and is made up of governments, civil society and industry players.
Under terms of the KP, participant are required to meet minimum requirements, come up with national legislation and come up with import and export control as well as commit to transparency, trade only with fellow members in shipments that are certified conflict free.