Ahmed bin Sulayem, the chairman of the Kimberley Process, has urged non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to participate in the diamond regulatory organisations’ future proceedings, following an escalation of the dispute between some NGOs and the UAE.
“Our door remains open to any civil society and industry organisation alike who is in a position to contribute fairly, transparently and independently to discussions of the KP and to work together on improving the future for the diamond sector,” Mr bin Sulayem told delegates at the opening of the KP Intersessional meeting in Dubai.
His appeal followed a boycott of KP proceedings by the Civil Society Coalition (CSC), an organisation of African and Canadian activists, after CSC had repeated its decision to stay away from KP proceedings under the UAE’s 2016 chairmanship.
Alan Martin, research director of the KP, emailed KP members on the eve of the Dubai meeting, listing grievances against the UAE’s chairmanship and diamond-trading practices in the Dubai Diamond Exchange.
The dispute is important because it could destabilise the KP, which rests on “three pillars”: producing countries; industry; and civil society. Other NGOs have pulled out of KP proceedings in the past.
Mr bin Sulayem said the CSC’s head should stop his “self-serving” protests and “allow the future of the KP to continue unhindered”. He said: “I also urge a broader group of fellow international and credible NGOs to join the KP – be it Amnesty, Human Rights Watch or Global Witness – to be part of the future of the diamond industry, rather than allow a single NGO individual to hold the KP and the World Diamond Council to ransom.”
The dispute overshadowed the first full day of the KP meeting, which also heard from Sultan Al Mansouri, the Minister of Economy, of the importance of the industry to the UAE.
“Last year, even though prices of diamonds faced challenging market conditions, the UAE imported US$12.4 billion worth of rough diamonds and re-exported $13.2bn worth, giving the UAE rough diamond trade a total value of $25.6bn in 2015. It is this sort of contribution … that gives us the assurance that the UAE will meet its goals of economic diversity and more,” he said.
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